Reeling in the years


In our run up to Easter we will be taking you back in time to when Pitch and Putt was in its infancy and remembering players who were carving their way into our  history books. Names like Claire Keating,( Woodvale) T.J. O’Riordan (Rocklodge) and a few more. Over the next week or so we will profile some of these names as a reminder of their achievements and dedication to the game, when some of us were only taking our first steps and others were waiting to be the stars of the future. We hope you enjoy this walk down memory lane. 


                                                                           What happened in 1964?

Nelson Mandela was given a prison life sentence, having been convicted of an anti-government conspiracy.

Cassius Clay (later Mohammed Ali) beat Sonny Liston to become World Heavyweight Boxing champion for the first time.

The Beatles had five songs in the top five places in the US Billboard Top 40.

The Death Penalty was abolished in Ireland for all but the murder of Gardai, diplomats and prison officers.

Tipperary were All-Ireland hurling champions while Galway footballers won the first of a three-in-a-row

In the fledgling Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland (formed less than four years previously),records for the ages were being set.

Two brothers won the National Gents Strokeplay and Matchplay championships while an all-time great won a third, and soon a fourth, National Ladies championship in succession.

32 players contested the 1964 National Gents Matchplay championship at Ierne on 17th/18th May. T.J. O’Riordan (Rocklodge) claimed the title, winning the final by 2 holes from Seamus Rogers (Portmarnock). In the semi-finals, T.J. was an 8&6 winner over Tommy McEwan (Ierne) while Rogers eliminated Portmarnockclubmate Michael Halpin by 2 holes.

Rogers held a one up halfway lead in the final, and he maintained that advantage to the 27th. T.J. had squared the match by the 34th and then holed a long putt across the 17th green to move one up with one to play. He won the 36th as well to clinch the Elvery Cup.

The 1964 National Ladies Matchplay final was at Hillview on 14th June. Holder Clare Foley was back again to defeat her great rival Teresa McGuigan (Shandon) by 5&3. Clare had earlier defeated Mrs W. Bradley (Highfield) in the semi-finals by 7&6 while Teresa McGuigan was a 5&4 victor over Nora Daly (Hillview).

Clare’s three successive titles achievement was subsequently equalled by Teresa McGuigan in 1967, Norma O’Brien in 1992 and by Peggy Campbell ten years later. And by a certain Geraldine Ward in 2018.

The 1964 National Gents Strokeplay Championship had attracted an original entry of 422, which was a record at the time. The finals at Rocklodge on 28th June featured 19 juniors, 27 Intermediates and 18 seniors and play did not start until 2pm.

Michael O’Riordan (Rocklodge) fashioned rounds of 53, 49 and 51 for a total of 153 and a three stroke win in the Senior Championship over his brother and reigning National Matchplay champion T.J. O’Riordan (Rocklodge) who signed for 53, 50 and  53.

Michael Dilworth ensured a Rocklodge double by posting 54, 54, 55=163 to clinch the Intermediate Championship by a single stroke from clubmate Michael Heelan on 164 (54, 56, 54).

Tom Higgins (Woodvale) was a runaway victor in the Junior Championship, scoring 157 (52, 48, 57) for a whopping 13 stroke margin over runner-up. Michael O’Donnell (Rocklodge), 53, 60, 57=170.

On lightning fast greens at Shandon on 20th September, Clare Foley clinched her fourth consecutive National Ladies championship and second Strokeplay crown in succession. The Woodvale legend put together rounds of 59, 59 and 54 for a three-round aggregate of 172 and an amazing fourteen stroke margin over home club player Teresa McGuigan (64, 62, 60).

That Keating four timer was matched recently by the great Geraldine Ward.

Mary O’Riordan (Rocklodge), sister of T.J. and Michael, totalled 189(63, 62, 64) for 54 holes to win the intermediate championship by seven strokes from Kay O’Leary (Ierne). The junior championship went to an 18 holes play-off with Rocklodge’sMary Riordan (no relation) beating Clare Bossonet (Glenanne),69 to 70, after a tie on 210.

Collins hosted the Inter-County championship (there was no ladies event in those days) on 26th July 1964. Powered by three Rocklodge players, Cork scored 797 to Dublin’s 824 to claim the Anchor Cup for the first time ever.

In the 72 holes (all scores to count format), T. J. O’Riordan was Cork’s best performer with 194 (47, 51, 50, 46). Highfield’s Mattie McDonnell signed for 198 (50, 50, 47, 51), Michael Crowley for 202 (52, 49, 49, 52) and Michael O’Riordan for 204 (49, 50, 50, 54).

1963 National Strokeplay champion Johnny Crean (Ierne) was Dublin’s best player with 201. Crean’s comrades were Christy Howard (Portmarnock), Tom Cooney (Hammond Lane) and Tommy McEwan (Ierne).

In a dominant display, Cork were eight ahead after eighteen, 21 clear after 36 and 38 to the good  with a round to go. Waterford were third, Kildare fourth and Tipperary fifth.

                                        Clare Keating

The first year under P.P.U.I. rules saw a win in the Cork Ladies Matchplay championship by a young lady from Cork city named Clare Foley. That 1961 success was the springboard for two decades of ladies Pitch and Putt domination.

Clare Foley (Woodvale) was the first lady to procure both National Strokeplay and National Matchplay titles. She did it in the same season as well (the first of two players to win their first Strokeplay and Matchplay titles in a single calendar year). Clare Foley took the 1963 National Matchplay title with a huge final win over Mrs. Betty Feane (Curragh) at Plunkett, Co. Kildare. Later that year, Clare won the Strokeplay at Rocklodge with a three round 156, six shots ahead of Rocklodge's Helen Dilworth.



By the time (as Mrs Clare Keating) she won her last Matchplay title (at Collinstown) in 1977, she had amassed no fewer than fourteen National individual titles, a marvellous record that stood for many years before finally being overtaken by Geraldine Ward (Portmarnock) in 2013. The Cork legend bagged eight Matchplay championships and six Strokeplay gold medals as well as losing two Matchplay finals and twice finishing second in the Strokeplay.

On three occasions ('63, '64 and '73), St. Marie of the Isles alumna Clare brought off the double of National Strokeplay and National Matchplay in the same year. She won three Strokeplay titles in a row ('63-'65) and three Matchplay titles in succession ('75-'77).


1973 was also the year that Clare participated in the first made-for-TV Pitch and Putt event – the RTE Mixed Foursomes at Ierne.  Clare and another legend Mick Forrest represented Munster. Mick and Clare defeated Ulster’s Brian Savage and Mary Campbell (Cloghogue) in the semi-final and won the final by one hole against Leinster’s Gus Carolan (R.G.S.C.) and Mary Snell (Athgarvan).


Clare’s feat in reaching the National Ladies Matchplay championship final seven years in a row (1971-‘77) is an all-time record, which is likely never to be equalled. Only defeats in the 1971 (to Mary Snell at Arden) and 1974 (against Teresa McGuigan at Catholic Institute) deciders slightly marred a phenomenal run that saw Clare lift the Elvery Cup five times in six seasons.


Cork pairs controlled the early stagings of the National Mixed Foursomes.  Eamonn and Noreen Scanlon (Ashgrove) were the inaugural winners of the then John Player-sponsored event at Ierne in 1971.  Denis Kiely and Angela Roche of Rocklodge placed second while Clare Keating and her husband John (Woodvale) fired +1 to clinch the gross.


Also adept at hockey and tennis, Clare was the fulcrum of the 1972 and 1973Woodvale squads that claimed Cork County Senior League titles. Clare was assisted in that era by the likes of Anita Canty, Kitty Bell, Denise Hodkinson and Anne Bell.


After that initial Cork Matchplay win over her beloved Woodvale course in 1961, Clare went on to harvest four more County Matchplay crowns – the last earned at Collins in 1968 when she beat her great mentor Kitty Bell by 3&2 in the final.


Clare’s resumé also includes four Cork Strokeplay titles. She achieved the Cork Strokeplay and Matchplay double twice, in the successive years of 1964 and 1965. Matchplay final wins each year over Mrs W. Bradley of Highfield were augmented by a return of 97 at Highfield in 1964 for a six stroke Strokeplay win over Lil Walsh (Douglas) and a 104 tally at Carrigaline a year later saw her defeat Helen Dilworth (Rocklodge) by five.


Clare was practically unbeatable through 1964 and 1965 as those seasons also saw her crowned Munster Strokeplay champion. A phenomenal 94 at Collins in 1964 gave her a nine stroke win over Mrs D.J. Coghlan (Highfield) while she enjoyed a ten stroke victory at Highfield a year later. In all, Clare delivered seven provincial strokeplay wins between 1964 and 1976.


Clare_Keating4.jpgClare won her sole National Inter-County championship with Cork in 1973 at Hillview.  The Leeside ladies scored 440 to Dublin’s 463 with Clare contributing a vital 105 to the cause. Clare also played on three Cork runner-up sides (1974-76) in a period of Dublin dominion in that particular event.


Clare’s husband John Keating was P.R.O. of the Cork County Board in 1976. Clare herself entered the world of administration when she was elected first-ever lady Vice Chair of the Cork County Board during the Annual Convention at St. Anne’s in 1976. Clare switched to Board Secretary for the 1978 season.


Clare Keating later starred with Douglas Golf Club’s senior cup team, first as a key player and later as an astute non-playing captain.