WITH Stackallen almost ready to welcome 160 Gents players to the course for the eagerly awaited National Gents Strokeplay Championships, Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor got the views of Club Chairman Kevin Moran and Club Captain Patrick McBride about the return of a major National Singles Championship to the club for the first time in seven years this weekend.
While there is some debate about whether the club was founded in 1963 or 1964, what is certain is that Stackallen will have a 50th anniversary function later on in the year to mark the milestone. The club share their facilities with the Stackallen Tennis Club (which was founded in 1951) and Stackallen Chairman Kevin Moran explains how the relationship works. “There is a committee of 17 people that are responsible for both sports and there usually is an even mix between the two sports on the committee. We’ve made a bit of a drive around the local area to get more members in and it’s been successful enough in that our numbers are up by about 25. Playing wise that’s an increase in about 10,” the club chairman said.
The course is situated in a mainly rural area, three miles from Slane and a total of six away from Navan town and while it might come as a relief that Garth Brooks didn’t decide to relocate his infamous five concerts to the nearby Castle after the Croke Park, there was another issue that the club thankfully don’t have to worry about now. “There was talk about the power being switched off on Saturday for a few hours but thankfully that won’t be the case now and we’re happy with the parking and catering facilities that have been put in place for this weekend,” Kevin said.
Bar a few bits and pieces in the run-up to Saturday the course is more or less ready for the action to begin at 8.30am that morning and the chairman is hopefully that everything will go right for the club over the course of the weekend. “While’s we’ve had to cut back on some of the normal things that we would do when we host a National, we do hope that there is a great standard of Pitch & Putt this weekend and that everyone enjoys there time up here,” he said.
IN a lot of ways Patrick McBride would wish that he was involved in the heat of the action on Sunday. However a spot in the Finals unfortunately eluded him on the day of qualifying so he will have to watch it from the fringes with his Gents Captain hat on. It’s a role he is happy to hold this year however. “It is a great honour to be Gents Captain in the club this year regardless of whether I’m playing or not. The fact that there is only one registered member of the club taking part does show how tough it is to qualify out of Meath though,” Patrick said.
Patrick’s brother Damien is the club’s only representative in the entire weekend, teeing off in the first Junior grade pairing on Saturday morning but there are a few associate members who will be partaking as well. “Eamon Gibney and Fintan Wogan are both associate members here as well so both of them will fancy their chances of doing well this weekend,” he said. While the course does have a bit of a fearsome reputation for scoring, Patrick thinks the course might be a bit more receptive to lower scoring this weekend, “As well as the two greens there are less bunkers around the course than 2001 so players might be able to do better this time on that front. The greens will be fast and firm however,” he said.
In terms of whom the eventual winners might be Patrick feels that all three grades are likely to be fiercely competitive. “The Intermediate and Junior competitions always throw up something unexpected and while you would expect that the Cork and indeed the Munster players by extension will have no fear about travelling up here and doing well, the winner no matter who it will be, certainly has to be on the top of his game.”
The 2011 National Matchplay semi-finalist wishes all the players from the Royal County the best of luck in Stackallen; certainly you sense the winner(s) are going to need it around this particular track.