Wednesday 28 September 2016

From the Stands: How 1932 Olympians trained on fairways

Dermot Gilleece and Fergus McDonnell

Published 28/06/2015 | 02:30

Henry de Bromhead was involved in the bidding for the three-year-old gelding who was eventually sold for €320,000
Henry de Bromhead was involved in the bidding for the three-year-old gelding who was eventually sold for €320,000

They recently unveiled a plaque at Ballybunion GC on the men's fifth tee of the Old Course. And it wasn't to immortalise the spot where future Ireland out-half Johnny Sexton hopped over the perimeter fence to work as a scorer at the 2000 Irish Open, but rather to commemorate events from much further back.

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Club captain Brendan Lynch and Lady Captain Anne Marie Carroll did the honours in the company of Billy Kennedy, of the Olympic Council of Ireland, and Pádraig ó hUiginn, an honorary life member of the club.

Inscribed on the plaque are the words: "Within the space of just 10 minutes at the 1932 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles, Ireland won 2 Gold Medals. Bob Tisdall won the 400m Hurdles and Dr Pat O'Callaghan won in the Hammer Event. They both trained prior to the games on this, the 5th fairway of Ballybunion Golf Club."

As a sign of modest times, the entire Irish track and field team of four, including Michael Murphy in the steeplechase and Kerry-born Eamonn Fitzgerald in the hop-step-and-jump, spent two weeks training on the golf course before departing for the US.

And as a bonus to the two gold medals, Fitzgerald finished fourth with a personal best of 49 feet.

Readers may well be aware by now of the extraordinary events at Tattersalls last week when a three-year-old gelding was sold for €320,000 at the Derby Sale.

The Tattersalls Ireland website recorded the dramatic bidding war, and if the horse turns out to be involved in races that are as thrilling, it may yet be money well spent.

"A packed, yet hushed sales ring saw a son of Robin Des Champs (Lot 260) achieve the best price given at the Derby Sale since 2011, and the fourth-highest price ever for a store horse sold at Tattersalls Ireland. The Lakefield Farm-offered gelding was bought by agent Harold Kirk for €320,000. 'He is the most expensive store horse I have ever bought,' smiled Kirk.

"Trainer Henry de Bromhead started the bidding, but it soon narrowed to David Minton, Kirk, Eddie O'Leary and de Bromhead, who walked away at one point only to return, with phone pressed to his ear, at €270,000.

"Kirk, who was standing by the ring, went head to head, the bidding proceeding to €300,000. Eddie O'Leary added some late bids, but Kirk was keen to seal the deal, and the bidding concluded at €320,000.

"'He is a lovely horse, a proper model, the most similar horse I've seen to Sir Des Champs,' he reported, before joking: 'We made the stallion and now we are paying for it! But this is a beautiful horse - let's hope he has an engine to go with it.'

"The horse certainly has a pedigree - he is a half-brother to Publican, a Grade Two bumper winner, and to the dam of Clondaw Warrior, Grade Two-placed and recent Royal Ascot winner for Willie Mullins.

"Understandably, vendor John Bleahan of Lakefield Farm was thrilled with the result."

Having staged the Irish Open on three occasions and won the coveted title of Golf Resort of the Year in 2012 and 2014, you could forgive Carton House if they indulged in a little laurel-resting.

And that's where you'd be wrong. The already visually stunning and highly enjoyable O'Meara course has been further improved thanks to last year's changes to the first and 18th holes.

The course offers a truly memorable experience - an experience which Carton House are making available to as many players as possible.

For €89 per person sharing, you can treat yourself to the Carton House Stay & Play package, which includes one night's luxury accommodation with a full Irish breakfast and a round of golf, including buggy, on either course.

Alternatively, you can grab a buggy and get a quick round in with Fast Pass rates from €50 per person from Monday to Friday, 8.0am to 8.30am, or 7.0am to 7.30am on Saturdays and Sundays.

If you prefer to soak up the last of the evening sun, you can avail of the Carton House Twilight package for €39 per person after 5.0pm.

ssport@independent.ie

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