National Matchplay Nett Cup Champion


                                                                                   Marion Gannon Kelly

                                                                        National Matchplay Nett Cup Winner 

A sporting lady all her life running and playing football and rugby, Marion has managed to achieve success in no less than three National Championships in the short time since she took up playing the game just over 18 months ago.  The reigning Junior  National Strokeplay Champion at Lakeside 2023, she then went on to win gold again as part of the Kildare  National Inter county team in Lucan.   Topping this off on the June bank holiday weekend she saw off multiple opponents to win the National Matchplay Nett cup.

By her own admission, Marion didn’t know what to expect over the weekend having never played in the Matchplay before.  She says herself “I just went down to see what it was like but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would win.  To me it was about getting the experience of playing Matchplay”

Initially, and not being familiar with the nett Matchplay format, she found it strange dealing with the shots, but it was a game she soon cottoned on to.  How did she overcome this?  “You have to learn very fast how to count the scores and shots, taking your time getting it right after each hole is the key” .  Good advice for everyone.

Having come through the semi-final match against Veronica Anglim from Hillview, Marion faced Gemma Martin from Hillview in the final. Giving genuine praise for her opponents says- “Gemma is a phenomenal player as is Audrey Donnelley” (the defending champion) Marion praised each and every player taking part over the weekend both ladies and gents. 

The final was to be very closely contested and a riveting match for the onlookers.  Giving 3 shots to Gemma, Marian had to make sure she got near the greens to give herself a chance.   After a super up and down game the match was all square going to the final hole. 

Gemma, teeing first, unfortunately like many players before her on the day became another victim of the very difficult final hole “gulley” in Larkspur.   A cautious tee shot left Marion close to the edge of the dreaded moat surrounding the 18th.  Gemma, who had a shot on the 18th, hitting her 3rd, chipped to the green leaving her a 10 foot putt for 4.  A super chip from Marion left her within 5 feet for her par.  With a huge on-looking crowd Gemma needed to sink this putt to half the hole at least. This would take the match to sudden death, or in the event Marion missed her 3, claim the match.  In a nail biting finish, Gemma missed the putt, and with a very quick turnaround, left Marion with a putt to win or continue.   In true determined style from the McDonagh player, her aim was true and she sank the putt to win the match.  What a super final!

Tell me how you got started in Pitch and Putt?

 One evening while in McDonagh waiting for  her children who did Irish dancing in the clubhouse ,Johnny Bourke who has known Marion all her life, asked her if she had ever played and would she like to try hit some balls: “ After hitting 10 balls , each getting a little better as I hit them, he proceeded to tell me to collect them and jokingly said “ I’m going to call you  Happy Gilmore.....get yourself off to a golf shop and get some clubs, you’re a natural”  After that evening I went up every day to get it right” “ It used to bother me on the first tee in the beginning with people watching, now I  blank them out and  away I go.

 I asked her what club she uses : “a 52 degree wedge, but don’t ask me the make.  It belonged to my late dad and it’s all I use. I can get great distance with it, even to the longest holes. I tend not to look at the meters, I just aim for the flag”   and much to the amusement of her opponents this theory works for her.

Marion has a very endearing approach to pitch and putt.  She tells me: “Everyone is just a player, whether they’re a top senior or a junior; we’re all just players in this lovely game of ours, as long as you can get up and hit a ball.  I met lovely people in Cashel who encouraged me all weekend and I didn’t know them at all.  Pitch and putt is a community, everyone supports and encourages each other.  I’ve never seen it before in any other sport I played, it’s amazing”

Daughter Grace was there cheering her on at the final hole with some of her club mates who she sincerely thanks for all their encouragement and help along the way.   The people in McDonagh who brought me on and kept me going when I started.  They always told her: “you have it in you, you can do it Marion”   Well, how right they are, we look forward to seeing what this lady with the huge outlook and sporting spirit will  take on next.  Her aim is to give back all that she’s gained from her own experiences in Pitch and Putt and to encourage and nurture players on their journey.  Well done Marion.  

Frances Ryan