Please Note that Tipperary Hills will Close on Friday @ 5.00pm in preparation for the National Matchplay.
Beginning our build-up to this weekend’s National Matchplay Championships in Tipperary Hills, John Manning profiles the Tipperary Town club in the following article.
1970 saw the start of a new decade after the swinging sixties. It was the year of Samba Soccer and the World Cup. But it was a momentous year for Pitch and Putt in Tipperary Town.
Noel McInerney originally had the idea and his vision led to the formation of Tipperary Hills Pitch & Putt club in 1970. Michael Dermady was the first Club Chairman. The club developed swiftly during the ‘70s. Tipperary Hills course was always impeccably prepared and the members were famed for their hospitality. Their first national recognition came in 1986 when Tipperary Hills hosted the PPUI Juvenile Weekend. The Hills’ own Seamus O’Halloran won the Boys’ Strokeplay while Barbara Farrell of Ierne was crowned Girls champion. Kerry took the Juvenile Inter-County championship. Four years later, the National Inter-County championships came to Tipperary Hills. There was a home county victory in the Ladies championship while Cork won the Gents.
A wonderful event through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s was the Mazda Scratch Cup at Tipperary Hills. The Roll of Honour for that event is a veritable Who’s Who of the greats of Pitch and Putt. The Mazda Trophy is still on display in the Tipperary Hills clubhouse. Richard O’Halloran and Christine Glasheen won the PPUI National Mixed Foursomes at Waterford Crystal in 1981. Eddie Lonergan was 1988 National Juvenile Strokeplay champion at Irish Ropes.
Then abruptly in 2005, after 35 glorious years, due to numerous reasons the club closed down.
In November 2008, club legend Sean Keane (R.I.P.) initiated efforts to re-open Tipperary Hills. Involved almost since the club’s inception, the PPUI Patron and Hall of Fame honouree received tremendous support from inside and outside Pitch & Putt. Neighbouring club Larkspur Park provided huge greenkeeping knowledge. The Tipperary Credit Union donated €25,000 to the project. Cavanagh Brothers and Rite Price Kitchens donated equipment to furnish the clubhouse. All the Tee Boxes were sponsored and FAS workers were used to help with the hard work, which was bolstered by massive community effort.
In October 2009, new Chairman Michael Brennan was proud to welcome over one hundred people who had turned out to support the official re-opening ceremony. The Vice President of the PPUI and Chairman of the Tipperary County Board Myles McMorrow was also present to acclaim the wonderful achievement.
A 25-year gap then to 2015 and, after hosting Munster championships in 2012 and 2014, Tipperary Hills was honoured with the hosting of the National Juvenile Strokeplay and Inter-County championships for the second time. Ryan Towler (St. Anne’s) and Aoife Mahon (Lucan) were the individual victors on this occasion while Dublin won the team championship.
Situated in Tipperary Town Park, the Hills is undoubtedly an excellent viewing course, one with many optimum vantage points for the numerous spectators that are expected to attend from across the country. A number of holes are likely to provide dramatic action where these Matchplays will be won and lost.
Tipperary Ladies and Seamus O’Halloran have done well in for the Premier County in national events at Tipperary Hills in the past. Top local lady Breda White Lonergan stands a good chance of adding to her Matchplay title win three years ago at Parteen. A protégé of the late Sean Keane, Breda is seeded to meet reigning champion Geraldine Ward (Portmarnock) in the semi-finals.
No Tipperary player has won the Gents National Matchplay since Eoin Morrissey in 1961 although Paul O’Brien (Lakeside) was a runner-up ten years ago. The current crop of Tipperary Hills Gents – Anthony Culhane, Sean Cummins, Pat Martin, James Ryan - will hope to put that right this year.
Everybody talks about the walk from the 18th green back to the first tee. It will merely provide another quirky element to what will undoubtedly be another memorable weekend in the rich history of Pitch and Putt in Tipperary Hills.
Tomorrow: We preview the Ladies event over the course of the coming Bank Holiday Weekend.
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