Beginning our look back at 2019, John Manning looks at the year in terms of our National Matchplay, National U-16 and more niche entry events.
Mary Murray recovered from six down at one stage to win the National Matchplay Ladies Final on the June Bank Holiday Monday and became the first winner of the National Ladies Matchplay Championship from Cork since Norma O'Brien at Lakewood in 1991.
Mary Murray’s 1up victory over Chrissie Byrne (Ryston) at Rocklodge meant she was the first player to win the National Ladies Matchplay Championship over her home course since namesake Mildred Murray at Shandon in 1981.
2014 National Ladies Junior Strokeplay Champion Sarah O’Neill’s victory in the National Ladies Matchplay Nett Cup at Rocklodge evoked memories of fellow Collins player Pat McCarthy’s 1991 win in the short-lived National Ladies Intermediate Matchplay Championship. Sarah defeated Collins club-mate Patsy O’Donovan by 4&3 at Rocklodge in a novel ‘local derby’ final.
In the Mens, a delightful pitch to within four feet of the 37-metre 1st, set up a birdie for Damien Fleming (Deerpark) to secure the 2019 National Gent’s Matchplay title at the first sudden death hole against Bryan Delaney (Bishopstown).
With his come from behind victory (he trailed Delaney by three at halfway in the decider), Damien Fleming becomes the 10th multiple winner of the National Gents Matchplay Championship and after his 2018 win at Glenville in the National Strokeplay, he moves on up to three national individual titles, a feat better by just three players (Ray Murphy, John Walsh and Sean Downes) in history.
Bryan Delaney is the fifth defending champion in history and the first since 2010 to lose the final the following year.
St. Munchins College (Shea Fennell, Patrick Mitchell and Paddy Lawler) scored 316 at McDonagh to become the first Limerick school to win the National Schools Competition. In so doing, they dethroned reigning Munster and National Champions St. Francis College, Rochestown by a six stroke margin.
2016 Champion Glenn Towler became the first multiple winner of the National Boys’ Matchplay Championship when the rising St. Annes star defeated Shea Fennell (Parteen) in the 2019 final at Deerpark. Glenn has contested the semi-finals of the championship in each year of its existence while Shea reached the final for the second year in-a-row. Eoin O’Riordan-Looney became the second player in history to win the National Boys’ Matchplay Championship Plate on his home course with a win over David Murray (Bishopstown), who ensured a Cork presence in the final for the third successive year.
It was a quick National U16 double for St. Anne’s when Patrick Mitchell matched the past achievements of Michael O'Connell and Ryan Towler by winning the National Boys' Strokeplay championship with a 97 around Glenville. Conor Mullins (Kilbeggan) scored 101 to take second, the same place as that filled by his brother Jack in the 2018 Championship at Fermoy. After the pair had tied on 130, Sophie Farnan (Skryne) beat Eimear Ahern (Lucan) in the fifth ever play-off in the history of the National Girls Strokeplay Championship.
Sophie’s extra-time success means she is the eleventh player in history to win at least two National Girls’ Strokeplay titles and is the seventh player all-time to win the championship in successive years. By coincidence, Eimear Ahern is the seventh player in history to be a multiple runner-up in the National Girls Strokeplay Championship and is the first player to be runner-up in successive years since Aoife Carton (Kilbeggan) in 2007/2008. Brian McCarthy fired 107 to clinch the Boys’ 10-13 Strokeplay Championship 15 years after his father Derry won the National Gents Matchplay championship. Brian McCarthy is the third winner of the Boys’ 10-13 Strokeplay Championship in four years to represent Deerpark.
David Horan (Glenville) scored a couple of 50s around his home course to be the first winner of the National U-20s Strokeplay Championship to represent a Leinster club. David finished four strokes clear of the most decorated Juvenile in Pitch and Putt history, Evan Carry, who is the second Leinster player in history to be runner-up in the National U20 Strokeplay Championship.
Kerry (represented by Cillian Courtney, Robbie Harnett, Jake Shine, Bobby McCarron, Eoin O'Riordan-Looney and Ryan Neeson) returned 410 at Glenville to win the National U-16 Inter-County, 19 ahead of Dublin. It was a sixth win for Kerry and the Kingdom lads were victors in consecutive years for the first time ever.
After 40 years of the National Mixed Foursomes, a new era dawned with the addition of the Non-Mixed category and a switch to Stableford points. Bellewstown, a fresh venue on the national rota, was chosen as the site of the revamped event.
Paula Lynch (Oldcastle) and Kevin Carolan (Rathfeigh) scored 99 points to be the fifth Co. Meath pairing (and the third two-club combination) in history to win the National Mixed Foursomes (now the National Mixed Scotch Foursomes). Paula and Kevin’s winning margin of eight shots is obviously the highest winning margin in the new Scotch Foursomes format but it is also the most comfortable victory margin since the National Mixed Foursomes began in 1971, eclipsing the six stroke cushion enjoyed by Jack and Mary O’Rourke of Majestic at Ierne in 1972. Marie and Richard Brennan (Bellewstown) scored 91 points to graduate from the Best Second Session prize at Lakeside last year to Runners-Up spot in the 2019 National Mixed Foursomes.
Darren Keogh and Chrissie Byrne (Ryston) accumulated an impressive 86 points to annex Best Gross and have now claimed the Best Gross award at the National Mixed Foursomes on three occasions - equaling Jack and Rose McCormack (Kilbeggan), Christy McDermott and Geraldine Ward (Portmarnock) along with Ray Murphy (Templebreedy/St. Annes) and Linda Murphy (Collins). Darren Keogh joins Eleanor Walsh (Fermoy) and Linda Murphy (Collins) as a four-time winner (with different partners) of the Best Gross in the National Mixed Foursomes.
A 98 points salvo enabled William Carry& Derek Seery (Bellewstown) become the first winners of the new National Scotch Foursomes Non-Mixed event and the fourth pairing in nine years to win a National Foursomes title over their home course. But it was mighty close as a National Foursomes title was decided by the Back 18 tiebreaker for the eighth time. Michael Long and Ian Leech also fired 98 points and became the 17th Co. Cork pairing (but the first from St. Anne’s) to achieve a second place finish in a National Foursomes final.
90 points captured Best Gross for the Killineer pair Ian Donnelly and Leinster Intermediate Strokeplay Champion Sean Clerkin (a third place finisher in the 2019 U-20 Strokeplay championship). Ian Donnelly was winning Best Gross in the National Scotch Foursomes twenty years after he took Best Gross (alongside Ann Fagan) in the 1999 National Mixed Foursomes at Cloghogue. Ian clearly likes Bellewstown for it was here he was crowned 2016 Leinster Matchplay Champion.
For the fourth year in succession, Fermoy celebrated victory in the National Pitch & Putt Scratch Inter-Club tournament. Fermoy defeated Larkspur Park by 6-3 in an absorbing final at Lakeside. Daithi Sexton, John Cahill, Declan Freeman, Darren Quirke, Daniel Quirke, Peter O’Donovan, Barry Morrissey, and Daniel Keohane delivered the latest Fermoy success, which is the sixth by a Cork side in the seven-year history of the event. Larkspur Park (captained by Shane Hoare and also including Brian Webster, Michael Kirby, Jimmy O’Neill, David White and Christopher Hickey) become the third Co. Tipperary club (after Tipperary Hills and Lakeside) in a row to lose the National Pitch and Putt Scratch Inter-Club Final.
After the heartbreak of consecutive National Pitch & Putt Nett Inter-Club final defeats in 2017 and 2018, Riverdale finally got their hands on the trophy. The Nenagh men justified their favourites tag with a 6-3 victory over 2014 Champions St. Patricks (Ruairi Fortune, Diarmuid Cullen, Glen Buckley, Michael Molloy, Jimmy Molloy, Neil Farrington, Colm O’Brien and John Tyrell) in a high-quality decider at Lakeside.
Riverdale’s squad of eight delivered a perfect formula of youth and experience. Father and son Sean and John Minogue teamed-up with Peter O’Brien, Sean Crowe, Michael Brophy, Ger Tuite, Seamus Gleeson and Jim McGrath.
The respective Munster Champions held sway at the new All Ireland Gents’ Graded Inter-County championships in Tullamore on November 3rd. Cork beat Dublin by 5-4 in the Intermediate Final while the Junior Final resulted in a Tipperary win, by 5-4 over Westmeath.
2015 runner-up John Cahill of Fermoy won the European Strokeplay champion after an exciting battle with his Cork Inter-County club-mate John Walsh (Collins) at the Central Park course in Dagenham in August. John Cahill posted a 54-hole aggregate of 144 while former World Strokeplay Champion John Walsh (who was third in the 2011 European Strokeplay in Norway) scored 145.
There was more Irish success in European O-55 Strokeplay championship at Dagenham. Bellewstown’s Anto Kavanagh, a Leinster Inter-County winner with Meath in 2010, carded a superb 49 final round to claim the laurels by a single stroke on 154, from defending champion Pacelli Darcy (Bruff).
Esther de Schiffart (Netherlands) retained her European Ladies Strokeplay Championship trophy with a devastating display, shooting an imposing tally of 155. First round leader Liz Quinn of Collinstown (who has won eight international opens in her time) registered a highly impressive second place performance. Liz utilized all her international experience with eighteens of 52, 58 and 53 for her 163 total.
Tomorrow: We will look at the year in terms of the National Strokeplay events.