Bearna trio turn on style to seal K Club final berth
THE native Galway members of Bearna Golf Club lost the bragging rights to Co Mayo in style after the Allianz-Irish Independent Executive Trophy qualifier held at scenic Glasson last Wednesday.
It turns out that the officer corps of Bearna has been almost completely taken over by Mayo folk -- and who can complain about that, after captain John Murphy, lady captain Barbara O'Keeffe and president Dan O'Neill brought honour and glory to the club at Glasson?
First, let's get the pedigree in order, and also link in the All-Ireland football winning medals that are a part of this story. Step forward Bearna president Dan O'Neill, who hails from Castlebar.
Dan, would you believe, played for Louth in that historic All-Ireland victory in 1957 over a Cork team which included Padraig Harrington's late father, Paddy.
By happy coincidence, Dan, who was in the Garda Siochana at the time, was stationed in Louth and played Gaelic football there at just the right time in the Wee County's history.
Lady captain Barbara O'Keeffe, originally from Ballaghadereen, grew up in a household dominated by football, as her father, the late Sean Flanagan, was on the Mayo two-in-a-row team of 1950 and 1951. Barbara's brother, Dermot, also represented Mayo at senior inter-county level.
Bearna's captain John Murphy, who hails from Kilkelly, Mayo, hasn't won an All-Ireland but his brother, Fr Michael Murphy, is the new manager of the famed Mayo Ladies GAA team.
So that just leaves Bearna secretary-manager Pat Donnellan -- a member of the famed Galway three-in-a-row side of the mid-1960s -- holding some street cred for the Tribesmen at the golf club.
But when it came to golf, the Bearna representatives proved pretty impressive as they won the qualifier with 83 points.
Considering the men played off the white tees at Glasson, which was in great shape, on a breezy day, that was a super score. Their nines of 38-45 showed that the Bearna trio were in top form.
"It was a pure team performance," said club captain John. "We dovetailed very well. The lady captain had 23 points on the back nine on her card, including back-to-back birdies on the par-five 14th and the par-three 15th, and the president came in very well when he was needed.
"All in all, a very enjoyable day on a lovely course."
John was doubly pleased because at one stage he was doubtful to play.
"I've been out with back problems most of the year. This was only the second game I've played since the captain's drive-in, so it's great that I managed to get here," he said.
Nenagh, represented by captain Jim O'Sullivan, lady captain Mary Ryan and honorary secretary Sean Minogue, also fired on all cylinders and were only pipped for the Waterford Crystal prizes awarded to the leading qualifiers on a countback.
Sean Minogue was on the 2009 Nenagh team which competed in the Allianz-Irish Independent event, and was delighted that Jim and Mary will now join him in enjoying the experience of the final at The K Club on September 2.
Perhaps it's a good omen that Nenagh came second at Glasson. Last year Sean Minogue, with 2009 captain David Jones and lady captain Sadie Callanan, were runners-up at the Westmeath venue and then they won the final.
Castletroy Golf Club came third with 82 points. The captain, Tony Sadlier, was accompanied by lady captain Mary O'Mahony and vice-captain Kevin Argue as they battled their way to be just a point away from the leading qualifier spot.
However, it was a case of job done, as Castletroy also go forward to the final. "A lovely day, very enjoyable. This is a fantastic sponsorship and the main thing is we didn't peak too early!" quipped captain Tony Sadlier.
County Tipperary captain Larry Keane is another 'veteran' of 2009. Larry was vice-captain last year, and his team filled fourth spot, as they did this time with 80 points.
Lady captain Liz Higgins and vice-captain Eugene O'Meara joined Larry as the County Tipperary representatives, and they knew they had their work cut out.
"Larry told us they had qualified last year with 76 points and when we came in we heard there were a couple of 83s in, so we thought we were out of it," said Liz. "It was a nice surprise to find that 80 points was good enough to qualify, and we're looking forward to the K Club."
Glasson owner and president Tom Reid hosted the day and received huge plaudits and congratulations from all the teams for the impressive new clubhouse extension.
The beautifully designed extension has superb views over Lough Ree and since it opened earlier in the year, the Reid family-owned golf resort has been doing great business with weddings.
Allianz were represented by Eugene Barnwell and the irrepressible Donal Bollard.
Eugene Barnwell welcomed the guests and spoke for everyone when he said: "The welcome and the standard of food and service at Glasson has been excellent. We are delighted to sponsor this event, in association with our friends in the Irish Independent and wish all the officers the best for the rest of their year."
83 pts: 38/45 Bearna (John Murphy 12, Barbara O'Keeffe 21, Dan O'Neill 19) on countback.
83 pts: 39/44 Nenagh (Jim O'Sullivan 17, Mary Ryan 16, Sean Minogue 21).
82 pts: 38/44 Castletroy (Tony Sadlier 13, Mary O'Mahony 17, Kevin Argue 12).
80 pts: 42/38 Co Tipperary (Larry Keane 6, Liz Higgins 30, Eugene O'Meara 13).