After a great weekend at the Cork venue, Communications and Press Officer Jason O’Connor got the thoughts of our three Ladies Strokeplay Champions for 2014 on their respective wins.
PRIOR to the National Matchplay, Ger Ward said that she still had the tinge in her stomach about playing Pitch & Putt and it was something she agreed probably stood to her during yesterday’s marathon battle with Tara Dillon. “I felt that I had a good chance coming into the weekend because I love Fermoy as a course. The rain on Saturday softened the course nicely and it meant that it was always going to come down to putting. I said to Tara in the playoff when we were both one under after six holes, that we should both wake up and try and get a few birdies and she ended up getting the next four,” Ger said.
Despite some opportunities slipping by for Ger in the Final 18, she said she was never going to panic. “I missed a putt on 16 to go one ahead of her and even though it was bang on line I left it short. I had a feeling I could have won it there if it had gone in and even though I was one down with three to go in the extra nine holes, I still felt there was enough of time to get back into it,” the now 16 time National Singles Champion said. Tara had defeated Ger in the National Matchplay in Parteen back in June and even though this is another tough loss for the Kildare player, Ger expects her to bounce back. “She’s a great player and she certainly has the ability to go on and win more National titles if she sticks with it.” Ger said of Tara.
Her 16th National title is unique in that it’s the first with the new club from the one that defined her previous 15 successes prior to Fermoy. “After winning 15 titles with the one club it’s hard to put it aside and move to a new one. It’s something I had to do though with the rheumatism as I was struggling with my distances and it’s different to the one I was using in Parteen. It’s done me well here and it certainly is one that I will be keeping!” Thoughts will now turn to the county jersey for indeed Ger and a lot of the other Lady players with both the Provincial and National Inter-Counties on the horizon and its one that she is looking forward to. “We’re forming a nice team now in Dublin and if we can get the right girls on it, I would be disappointed if we don’t put up a big challenge to the other counties. The Ladies Inter-County is actually getting very exciting now with the change in format, a lot more counties are coming into contention now and I think it’s well ran. It’s definitely change for the better.”
Collinstown (Leinster) and Tullamore (National) will be where it will be all played out on the Inter-County front this year.
AFTER being in the Intermediate ranks for 18 months, Ryston’s Mary Donnelly will be heading back to the Senior grade as a National Champion after winning a close fought battle with Claycastle’s Una Brosnan on Saturday. Mary completed a Leinster and National double at Intermediate level in the process and she said that fitting in a way that it came down to a battle between herself and the outgoing National Girls Strokeplay Champion. “Una said to me that we were the two provincial winners the week before so we followed on nicely from that point of view. Winning in Lucan last week certainly gave me great confidence as I’m only back playing the game 18 months after not playing the previous two years. I can be my own worst critic when it comes to my own game but thankfully all went well for me this weekend. I’m over the moon with this win,” Mary said.
Mary felt her day turned with an important par save. “I got a good par out of the bunker at the 11th and followed up with four birdies in-a-row so that certainly is where I felt I got going. I was never sure of it until the final hole though as Una really did push me hard,” she said. Her success last Saturday very much keeps it in the family for the Ryston player as she joins her sister Rose (1996 Ladies Senior Strokeplay Champion) and brother Andy as National Champions and she certainly is proud to carry on the legacy for the club. “It’s nice to be the first since Esther Martin (2005) to win this for the club and follow in the footsteps of all the other club members who have won National titles down through the years.”
Mary was part of a Kildare Senior Inter-County winning team back in 1997 and hopefully she will don the Lilywhite colours (whether Senior or Intermediate) again in the not too distant future.
IT was a success that was never in doubt really for Sarah O’Neill in the Junior Grade last Saturday. She led from almost start-to-finish having been in the first pairing of the day and even though you would not think it with her margin of victory, she said she was nervous throughout much of her 54 holes. “It took me four or five holes to really relax and I tried not to get too far ahead of myself today. Even when I was in front by 10 shots I still stayed on my toes for fear of something going wrong somewhere,” Sarah said.
A regular player of the game in her Juvenile days, Sarah is coming back into the game after enjoying a good social life by her own admission in the intervening years and pointed to her success in the Cork Junior Strokeplay two weeks ago as a good boost ahead of proceedings last Saturday. “I definitely got good confidence from that victory and the fact we were on another Cork course here certainly was a boost in advance of coming here,” she said. Sarah was one of the few Juniors to get her round in before the rain delay of roughly 90 minutes on Saturday and she felt it was a big advantage for her. “It was an advantage alright not to have to think about where my ball was or what a tee-shot would be like while we were delayed. I went off for a swim in the local swimming pool and it certainly calmed me down ahead of the playoff,” the new Ladies Junior Champion said.
Sarah paid tribute to her parents (Finbarr and Mary Looney) for keeping her enthused about the game and now that she joins them as National winners (both are former National Over-55’s Champions) she said is anxious to go an win more. “The bit is between my teeth now I guess, certainly I’m proud to win this for both them and the club in general and I hope that I can go on further from here.”
What Proceedings in Fermoy have told us? (By John Manning)
- Ger Ward has now won 16 national individual titles and now stands alone at the top of both the Matchplay and Strokeplay Roll of Honour, outstripping Clare Keating's six Strokeplay titles. She also becomes the first player to win two National Ladies Strokeplay championships via the play-off route, having previously won in extra holes in 2003 at Lakewood.
- Tara Dillon has now finished runner-up three times in the National Ladies Stroke. That's fourth on the all-time list of runners-up and she now holds the highest number of runners-up slots by players who haven't won the title. She also finished in the top three in the National Ladies Strokeplay for the fourth year in a row and in the top four for the fifth time in six years.
- It was a seventh play-off for the National Ladies Strokeplay championship and a second playoff in three stagings of the event at Fermoy.
- It was Breda Lonergan's best performance in the National Ladies Strokeplay championship since she won the title at Athgarvan in 1987. Meanwhile Maree O'Toole finished fourth in a National Ladies Strokeplay Championship that she was a runner-up in as far back as 1983 at Lakewood.
- Una Brosnan narrowly failed to replicate the feat of Michelle McCarthy (Hillview), who won the National Girls Strokeplay and the National Ladies Intermediate Strokeplay.
- Lily O'Brien adds to her previous success on the national scene - in the National Mixed Team Event of 2007.
- Sarah O'Neill wins the Ladies Junior Stroke 15 years after she tied the 36 hole lead in the same championship at Tullamore, eventually finishing 5th on Countback. She was also runner-up in the 1996 National Mixed Foursomes with her father, Finbarr Looney.
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