Ahead of the National Ladies Strokeplay Championships in St Bridgets this weekend, John Manning takes a look back at previous events in the Kilcullen venue, starting with the last National Ladies Strokeplay Championships there in 2004.
One of the all-time greats of Pitch & Putt reached a new milestone at St. Bridget's in 2004. In cool blustery showery conditions, the Portmarnock legend Geraldine Ward retained her National Strokeplay title and moved up to a total of 10 national individual titles - seven Matchplays and three Strokeplays. Ger was tied for the 36 hole lead with Cork's Siobhan Scannell (Collins), one of only two Munster player to make the Top 12. A superb final round of 49 gave Geraldine a one shot winning margin in a nail biting finish. She finished just the minimum margin ahead of the Byrne sisters of the host club - 2003 National Matchplay champion Chrissie and reigning Irish Matchplay queen Marian. For a moment, it looked as if the sisters would play-off with Geraldine Ward for the title. Marian and Chrissie finished in successive groups, just ahead of the new champion. Marian had almost aced the fifteenth and holed a four-footer on 17 to move to -16. She narrowly missed with a birdie try from the back of the home green.
A couple of minutes later, Chrissie Byrne, who had holed-in-one at the 17th to move 16 under, had a glorious chance to post a clubhouse target of 145 but a short putt for a two on 18 drifted wide. At that point Ger Ward was 16 under with two to play. Ger then pitched to within two feet at the 51 metre 17th and a two putt par at the difficult last clinched her 10th title. Chrissie Byrne, who was beaten in a play-off by Geraldine Ward for the Strokeplay title at Lakewood in 2003 took second place from her sister on the back six tiebreaker (-4 to -2). Marian Byrne, who was seeking a quick double, rued a superb chip from behind the 14th that rimmed the cup. Joint 36-hole leader Siobhan Scannell bogeyed the final hole to fall out of a tie for fourth place, which was claimed by Peggy Campbell (RIP) of Glenville.
Cork left-hander Linda O'Donovan (ESB) made history the same year. Until then nobody had ever retained the National Intermediate Ladies Strokeplay. Linda won at Lakewood in 2003 and there was to be no denying the ex-Douglas player in 2004 either. Two over after 18 to lie two strokes behind first round leader Una Foy, Linda was level par second time. Then a superb 23 outward half in the third round saw her spread-eagle the field and finish with nine shots to spare over final round playing partner Moira Nugent (Collinstown). Moira Nugent recovered from a shaky start to the final round to add a 58 to her 112 opener and clinch the silver medal. Patricia Murphy of the Ranges placed third. Unlucky player of the championship was undoubtedly Pauline Balfe (Shandon). After a birdie on the 15th in the last round, she was +3 for the round, +8 for the championship and challenging for second place. She bogeyed 16 and 17 and then ran up a quadruple bogey on the last after visiting the stream fronting the green.
Donna Cockwell (Cunnigar) dominated the junior championship. This stylish swinger with the baseball grip carded morning rounds of 56 and 52 for an even par 36 hole aggregate. Four ahead at that stage of Crosshaven's Caitriona Minihane, Donna's carefully played Final 18 of 58 gave her the title by a six shot margin. Caitriona Minihane suffered a nightmare first nine of the final round, running up three double bogeys and a triple in a 36. She fought back well to come home in 27 after birdies at 12 and 15. Her 175 gave her third slot - three behind Bridge Logan of the host club. Bridge fired a fine 54 second round to lie on 115 after 36 holes and then carded two birdies and five bogeys in a best of the final round 57 for a 172 aggregate.
Other previous national championships and events at St. Bridget’s have been.
St. Bridget’s first venture into National Championship hosting was the 1993 Juvenile weekend. Cork (David Maher 96, John O’Mahony 97, Killian McCarthy 98, Mark O’Keeffe 101 and Brian Jackson 101) posted 40 under as a target for the rest in the Inter-County championship.
As tradition demanded, holders Dublin played at the rear of the field with hosts Kildare. Kildare’s Paul Lennon carded a first round 53 but eked 10 birdies out of this tough track to post an inspirational 44. Oliver Lambe supported well with a 47 and Kildare (Oliver Lambe 95, Paul Lennon 97, Noel Hennessey 102, Ian Dillon 103 and Mark Sexton 104) clinched third place.
Yet again it was down to the wire between the oldest of rivals, Cork and Dublin. It was still touch and go as John Rogers waked to the 15th tee. He was five under for the round and -13 overall. His John Letters wedge kept setting up the chances and he birdied each of the last four holes, sinking a six-footer at the 18th to clinch a two shot Dublin (John Rogers 91, James Mulready 96, Gavin Irwin 98, Pierce Whelehan 105 and Paul Smith 108) win.
The following day, Paul Lennon (Poulaphouca) repeated his Saturday second eighteen heroics with another 44 to tie pacesetter Martin Sherkle (Old County) on 95 for the regulation 36 holes in the Boys’ Strokeplay. After chipping in at the second, Paul led the nine hole play-off by three strokes after three and held on to prevail by two. Glenville’s Ian Ingram carded a couple of 48’s to miss the extra holes by a single shot.
The Kildare double was completed by 12 year old Bernadette Coffey. Bernadette fired 103 to clinch the first of her three Girls’ Strokeplay titles by two from Grainne Gill (Irish Ropes). Grainne’s club-mate Orla Egan claimed third spot on 110.
38 pairs contested the Brophy Bros. Builders Blessington National Mixed Foursomes final at the excellently prepared St. Bridget's course on Sunday 30 September 2001.
Westmeath Inter-County players, Paul Bray, the 2000 National Strokeplay Championship Runner-Up and Liz Quinn, both of Collinstown, shot a superb total of +15 for the 36 holes versus par to win by one from Ray Murphy of Templebreedy and his wife Linda, playing out of Collins. Paul Bray and Liz Quinn were 5up after 18 to lie two shots off the halfway pace but a brilliant nine birdie round of +10 for the second 18, including four birdies in-a-row from the eleventh, gave the Collinstown duo the Sean Coyne Memorial Trophy.
It was hard luck on the Murphy’s, who fired a phenomenal ten under par gross 11up score for the second round, after turning +3. Another Cork pairing Eleanor Walsh (the 1988 National Matchplay Champion) and Joe Flood of Fermoy took the Best Gross with +9 - Eleanor Walsh winning the Best Gross in the National Mixed for an unprecedented fourth time. She and Joe previously won the Best Gross at Lakeside in 1995. Special Age Category (55 and Over) Award went to first round leaders, Rita Culligan and Ben Culligan (IGB) on +13.
Paul and Liz were three under par for their opening eleven holes and four up. Two bogeys in three holes were a blow but they birdied 16 and 17 before parring the last with a shot for their five up first round tally. Three birdies in a row from the second in Round Two and another at the 64 metre 8th hole got them out in +5 nett. Then came those four consecutive two’s before Paul fashioned a fine finishing pitch in the strong right to left wind. The ball pulled up just two feet away and Liz Quinn coolly converted for birdie and that vital one shot win. The Collinstown pair were the first Westmeath winners since Jack and Rose McCormack (Kilbeggan) in 1990.
Ray and Linda Murphy dropped just two shots all day. Ray missed a two footer for par on the sloping fifth green first time while Linda pitched well short of the 57 metre 18th. Their second round was absolutely flawless - a gross 44. Six up after nine, Linda canned a lengthy birdie putt on 10 while Ray pitched dead at the 12th. Further birdies followed at 14 and 17 before Ray pitched to within four feet at the home hole. Linda made the birdie putt to post the clubhouse target of +14.
Joe Flood aced the final hole to put the seal on a final nine of 21 gross that saw the Fermoy pair recover from a slow start to race to the Best Gross award.
The Inter-County Championships were played at St. Bridget's, on 9/10 September 2006. Kildare (Chrissie Byrne 98, Marian Byrne 100, Tara Dillon 100, Margaret Byrne 105 and Rose Kelly 116) scored a team total of 403 to beat Dublin (Phil Condron 101, Geraldine Ward 103, Mairead O'Brien 103, Sheelagh Elmes 105 and Stella Sheridan 105) by nine shots. Cork (Siobhan Scannell 98, Linda Murphy 104, Claire O'Flynn 104, Vera McCarthy 110 and Ann Daly 112) were third on 416.
Cork Gents (Ray Murphy 87, John Cahill 92, Chris Scannell 94, John Walsh 97 and Paudie O'Sullivan 102) were in unstoppable form. The Leeside tally of 370 ended 14 clear of Runners-Up Meath (Sean Downes 91, Patrick McBride 96, Wally Sheridan 98, Ian Farrelly 99 and James Carroll 101). Louth (Declan Byrne 94, Ian Donnelly 96, Pat Greene 99, Jim Judge 102 and George Beardsley 103) carded 391 in third position.
St. Bridgets, jointly hosted the National Scramble Final with Ryston on 9-10 May. The winners were Riverdale (Con Clear, Billy Boyle, PJ Ryan) on 158.33. 160.33 secured second spot for Kilbeggan (Mary Coffey, Padraig Coffey, Shane Coffey) with Deerpark (Paul Cronin, Gerry O'Sullivan, John Clifton) third on 161.33.
The National Juvenile weekend returned to St. Bridget's, Saturday/Sunday 18th/19th August 2012. Shane Redmond (Channonrock) regained the Boys’ Strokeplay title he previously won in 2010, as rounds of 50 and 44 gave the Co. Louth player a 14 under par aggregate of 94 and a one stroke win over Luke Heeney (Bellewstown), who led after the first round on 44. Roy O'Neill (Bagenalstown) scored 98 and claimed third on the second 18 from Shane Livesey (Pfizer). Amy Galvin (Tullamore) won the first of her Girls’ Championships when rounds of 51 53 gave the Co. Offaly teenager a two stroke margin over holder Claire Keatinge (Old County). Una Brosnan (Claycastle) finished third on 115.
396 won the National Juvenile Inter-County Championship for Kerry (St. John Kelliher & Creagh Courtney 49, Jason O'Brien & Jason Brosnan 52, Jason O'Sullivan & Conor McCarthy 52, St. John Kelliher 48, Creagh Courtney 52, Jason O'Brien 46, Jason Brosnan 50, Jason O'Sullivan 55 and Conor McCarthy 47).
Cork (David Howard & Shane Livesey 53, Edward Walsh & Fionn Murphy 50, Charlie Morrissey & Ryan Sexton 51, David Howard 51, Shane Livesey 49, Edward Walsh 47, Charlie Morrissey 51 and Ryan Sexton 48) were runners-up on 399.
Louth (Brendan Lawlor & Mark Linehan 51, Daryl McDonagh & Aaron McDonagh 53, Shane Redmond & Keelan Evans 52, Brendan Lawlor 47, Mark Linehan 54, Daryl McDonagh 54, Aaron McDonagh 54, Shane Redmond 50 and Keelan Evans 53) were next on 414.
St. Mary’s Diocesan (Darren Heeney 98, Peter Reilly 99 and Luke Heeney 103) captured the All-Ireland Schools’ Competition at St. Bridget's on October 26th. The Drogheda school totalled 300 to finish twelve strokes clear of St. Joseph's Rochfortbridge (Jonathan Daly 104, Liam Metcalfe 104 and Martin White 104). De La Salle College, Bagenalstown (Roy O'Neill 100, Patrick Robinson 106 and Thomas Maher 113) placed third seven strokes further back.
The All Ireland Gents Inter-Clubs Finals were played at St. Bridget's on 15th October. Fermoy beat St. Anne's 6-3 in the final to take the Gent’s senior crown. Fermoy had defeated Bruff 7-2 in the semi-final while St. Anne's overcame Deerpark 8-1. The Inter/Junior Final resulted in a 6.5 to 2.5 win for Parteen over Deerpark. Defeated semi-finalists were Cement and Tipperary Hills.
Tomorrow: Declan Sheedy starts a look ahead to this weekend’s events themselves, starting with the Junior grade.
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