National Secondary Schools Finals Preview

A look ahead to proceedings in Ryston on Friday

National Secondary Schools Finals Preview image

THE final National Pitch & Putt event of the year takes place in Ryston tomorrow with the fifth staging of the National Secondary Schools Competition. Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor takes a look at an event which sees 18 teams take part, all of which qualified from the recent Munster and Leinster Schools Competitions.


IT was a strange occurrence on the day of the Provincial Schools Finals two weeks ago that the exact same score turned out to be the winning score in both provinces. Two under par combined won the Leinster (Ard Scoil Ciaran Naofa, Clara) and Munster (St Colmans College, Fermoy) Schools events with the Erry and Cunnigar courses definitely the winners in both instances on the day. Hopefully Ryston will be a bit more receptive to good scoring but with weather conditions so unpredictable at this time of year, it does even the competition up in some respects.


            The winning Ard Scoil Ciaran Naofa team consisted of Ciaran Doyle, Josh Fleming and Mark Newman while St Colmans of Fermoy had Gary Mahon, Ryan Sexton and Sam Tonks among their ranks. They will both be buoyed on by those successes ahead of the trip to Newbridge but the double is far from a foregone conclusion on the day. Davis College of Mallow were third in the Munsters last year before climbing up to first in last year’s National Finals in Lakeside and by virtue of a sixth place finish in Cunnigar two weeks ago earn the chance to defend their title with the same trio of Ed Walsh, Greg Barrett and Roy Whelan. Carraigaline Community School (David Howard, Shane Livesey and Ian O’Donoghue) and Colaiste Chriost Ri (Brian Barry, Conor Irwin and Evan Sheehan) were second and third in the Munsters while St Pats Navan (Liam Carroll, Conor Doyle and Ryan Crocock) and St John’s Ballyfermot (Dean Coleman, Evan Doyle and Craig Hennessy) were second and third in the Leinsters two weeks ago.


            The host county of Kildare will have won one representative, Cross and Passion of Kilcullen, who will be represented by Owen Farrell, Ben Phelan and Dylan Sheehan. The player who Farrell beat in that dramatic National Intermediate Strokeplay Championship playoff in Stackallen back in July, Creagh Courtney, will also be taking part in the St Brendan’s College 1 team which includes Michael Cronin and David Harnett. The Killarney School has a second team qualified for proceedings in Ryston as has St Colmans College and Ard Scoil Ciaran Naofa meaning 15 different schools will be represented in Friday’s shotgun start. Nine different counties are represented amongst the 18 teams (Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Kildare, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Waterford and Westmeath) and one interesting fact about the competition’s young history is that the winning team has never come from outside the host province of proceedings.


            That would lend credence to a Leinster victory but Munster has dominated the Juvenile scene this year that it might very well be that the sequence is broken on this occasion. Whoever does triumph will have to overcome the tough and at times punishing nature of the format which sees all three scores having to count on the day. Consistent and solid play is rewarded far more than the individual brilliance of any one player and it will be interesting to see what the winning score will be come the close of play on Friday afternoon.


We wish all 18 teams the best of luck and a safe journey travelling to Newbridge on Friday. Updates of proceedings will be available both on the PPUI website as well as our social media platforms.


Roll of Honour

2013 Davis College Mallow (G Barrett, E Walsh & R Whelan) Venue: Lakeside

2012 St Marys, Drogheda (D Heeney, L Heeney & P Reilly) Venue: St Bridgets

2011 Colaiste an Chraoibhin, Fermoy (C Clancy, W Galvin & C Wheeler) Venue: Hillview

2010 St Joseph’s, Rochfortbridge (J Daly, L Metcalfe & C Slevin) Venue: Tullamore