John Looney Intermediate Champions profile

By John Manning

John Looney Intermediate Champions profile image

John Looney

After joking about the 37 year window between his National Intermediate championship victories, John Looney's immediate instinct was to think of others.

A former Pitch and Putt Ireland President had passed on the Sunday morning of the 2024 Matchplay tests in Co. Tipperary.

“Billy Lynch was great man for the game. He’ll be sorely missed,” reflects John.“He was a friend to us all. It puts things into perspective.”

Looney also spoke about a Cork player who is undergoing medical challenges. “Someone from Cork has been pretty sick. It was great to see the person at the Matchplay. I had a few words with the person. Hopefully the health will improve. The person knows who it is.I hope to see her playing in the not too distant future.”

Some purists feel the National Matchplay should have been left as it was – all-in - but Cork’s County Board Chairman has no such qualms.

“The NEC take flak but this year they permitted us inters and juniors play at the same level as the seniors, Ladies and Nett Cup. Just to quaIify is brilliant. I commend the NEC for making the decision. The entry was huge.  Long may it continue. Everybody is getting the same go.”

Given the increased numbers, the NEC had to split their resources across two courses – Larkspur Park and Tipperary Hills. Looney played his early rounds at the Tipp town venue. “The Officers at Tipperary Hills did a great job and similarly at Larkspur Park.  (It was) a fantastic job as always and a smoothly run competition.”

Both courses earn fulsome praise. “Tipperary Hills club should feel very, very proud – the course was in fantasticcondition. Larkspur Park is fabulous. It was in great order as always and they should be very proud of the course they presented and the refreshments.”

The courses were dappled by Cork Pitch and Putt aficionados, many from Looney’s own club Collins. “Spectators – it’s great to see themwatching. I very much appreciate the people who cheered me on - you know who you are. One or two small words are all you need. It really drove me on.”

John praises all his Matchplay rivals, “Alan Long in the qualifiers, Dermot McGregor, Sean Minogue, Mark Cummins and (his great friend) Frank O’Brien.”

Typical of Pitch and Putt’s camaraderie, Looney travelled to Cashel with his semi-final adversary Ryan Walsh and the latter’s Dad. “I thought Ryan probably won’t take me home,” jokes John about a match that ebbed and flowed and his young clubmate had every chance. The new champion’s experience was perhaps critical as a few late birdies catapulted him over the line. 

John is characteristically generous about his worthy challenger in the final. “It was a great game with Ryan (Sexton).He should be very proud of his performance. We know each other well. We spoke about it last year. There’s another intermediate championship coming in a couple of months at Glenville. I’m sure he’ll make a good rattle at it.”

The new champion pays tribute to his support mechanism, past and present. “This is for a few special people - my late mother and father and my wife and daughter.”