FOLLOWING the earlier than expected conclusion of the National Inter-County Championships in Douglas yesterday, Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor spoke to the three winning captains from the various grades.
Gents A- Liam O’Brien Cork
HE admitted that it was far from the circumstances that he would have liked to have led Cork to victory in the Anchor Cup in. However Cork captain Liam O’Brien agreed that there was very little alternative with the torrential weather conditions that forced the Championships to come to a premature halt on Sunday. “It’s a pity its worked out this way especially with the amount of work that has been put in by the club both on and off the course. You could have held the event about a month ago here and the course would have been in great shape for it as well but it is difficult on the catering side of things with the amount of work the club did for that particular aspect,” the Cork captain said of the early conclusion to proceedings.
In terms of the play that was there on Saturday, O’Brien felt that Cork’s Scotch Foursomes scores were the perfect platform. “We had targeted three eights in advance but to come in with a twelve and two nines was the perfect start and we drove on from that in the Singles. There always is that bit of extra pressure when you are playing at home but the lads coped well with it and I think you could have had two Cork teams out here today and they would have competed well against each other,” O’Brien said of their third successive success. He admitted that seeing Louth back in the medals reminded him of a previous defeat for the Rebel County in the event. “I remember up in Cloghogue when Louth broke our hearts in similar conditions and Pat Greene broke our hearts. It was nice to see him here as well this weekend still battling away,” he said.
As a player with a distinguished career himself (a former National Matchplay Champion in 1993 and National Strokeplay winner in 1996), O’Brien admitted it was a huge honour to captain Cork on the occasion of the Inter-County being in his home course. “It was something that I couldn’t really refuse when the offer was made to me by the Cork County Board and I would like to thank them again for giving me this honour for the year.”
Ladies- Margaret O’Riordan Cork
ECHOING the captain of the Cork Gents team, Margaret O’Riordan admitted it probably wasn’t the way the Cork Ladies would have liked to have won the title but she was still proud of the effort of the team on Saturday. “Douglas is not an easy course for a lot of players but in fairness to the team they practiced hard in advance of this weekend and played very well on Saturday. It would have been nice to have played the Singles today because it is so much different to doubles but we will just have to go with the decision that has been made now to declare the result as it is,” the Cork Ladies team captain said.
Even without a provincial event this year in comparison to their Leinster counterparts, Margaret still felt Cork had a strong chance going into the weekend. “I’m not a great believer in the theory of the course being a big advantage for the host county. You saw how close it was between ourselves and Kildare (three shots) and when you look at the fact so many different counties (four) have won this event in recent years, it goes to show how hard it can be to win this event,” she said.
In an overall sense Margaret hopes that this can be a time for the number of Ladies playing the game at all levels to increase. “I think bringing in the graded inter-counties in the provinces has been a big benefit for the Ladies game and it certainly is helping us to get the numbers out playing a lot more in Cork and we all hope that will continue.”
Gents B- Ian Flynn Waterford
THE only event that Cork couldn’t win in Douglas was the battle for the Eamon Birchall Cup and on this occasion the honour went to Waterford who reversed their second place finish to Clare last year in Tullamore with a five stroke victory over the Banner County on Saturday. Team captain Ian Flynn spoke of their success. “From a personal point of view we’re delighted to have won. We would have sympathy for the other three counties that it worked out this way with the competition having to be called off but there probably really was no other choice with the way the weather was so horrific today,” he said.
Flynn felt his team-mates deserve the credit for his success more so than himself. “We started the Scotch Foursomes well but I struggled a bit on the front nine in the Singles before coming into it a bit better on the back nine. In fairness to the others they were steady throughout and that’s probably what won it for us overall,” the Waterford captain said. He hoped that there would be an improvement on the entry of teams for next year’s event in RGSC. “You would like to see more counties enter, personally I feel it’s a great competition and there is a great banter between the teams playing,” Flynn said.
In terms of the game within Waterford, Flynn hopes that this will serve as a boost. “What I will say about Pitch & Putt is that it is a great pastime and we find it very enjoyable in Waterford. There are many well run events there and I hope this will encourage more people to take up the game.”
What Douglas told us? (By John Manning)
- The Inter-County championships have never before been curtailed by weather to the extent they were this year. There was a rain delay at Cloghogue in 1992 but the championships were completed.
- A ‘coming of age’ 21st win for Cork at the Gents Inter-County championship, extending the Rebels' lead at the top of the all-time list. It was their 13th success in 15 years.
- John Walsh and Ray Murphy picked-up their 14th Inter-County winning medals, extending their joint lead at the top of the all-time list. John Cahill wins his ninth Gents Inter-County championship medal, Kieran Dunscombe and Bryan Delaney their fifth and Daniel Keohane his first.
- It was Louth's best Gents Inter-County performance since the win at Seapoint in 2002. Pat Greene, George Beardsley and Ian Donnelly all played in 2002 and this year. They finished second in the Gents Inter-County for the first time since 1975. Cork were winners on that occasion as well.
- Cork won the National Ladies Inter-County championship for the third time since 2010 and for the seventh time in all.
- Eleanor Walsh now has five National Ladies Inter-County championship winning medals. She has played on every victorious Cork team since 1984 and now holds the record for the longest gap between first and most recent winning appearance in the Ladies Inter-County championship - 31 years (1984-2015). She also also eclipses Chris Scannell's record for the longest gap between first and most recent winning appearance in any Inter-County championship - Chris' is 29 years (1984-2013).
- Vera McCarthy won her third winners medal at the Inter-County. She has played on every Cork top two team since 2003 (apart from Cloghogue 2009).
- Linda O'Donovan wins her second Inter-County winners medal while Una Brosnan and Sarah Byrne extend the tradition of former National Girls champions helping their county to adult Inter-County success.
- Kildare finished second in the National Ladies Inter-County championship for the fifth time in six years. They finish in the top two for the sixth year in-a-row and for the 20th time in 21 years. They now been runner-up in the National Ladies Inter-County championship 12 times - equal at the top of that list with Cork.
- Waterford's previous best ever performance in the second tier of the Gents Inter-County championship was second at Seapoint in 2002 and at Tullamore last year. Billy Aspel of the 2015 team also played in 2014 and in 2002.
- Third place was Longford’s best ever finish in the second tier of the Gents Inter-County Championships.
A collection of photos from the weekend is now available on our Flickr page at the link below.
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