Sligo show Executive class with march to K Club final
LEADERSHIP -- that's what it's all about, and the officer corps of County Sligo Golf Club have set the tone for 2010 by claiming first place in the Allianz-Irish Independent Executive Trophy qualifier at Slieve Russell.
The Rosses Point club are hoping that the triumph of captain Pat Forkan, lady captain Patricia O'Connell and president Joe Gannon will be a portent for further success this season for their teams.
The trio combined to great effect to score 78 points on a challenging Slieve Russell layout, edging out Seapoint (captain Noel Kierans, lady captain Miriam Ryan and vice-captain John Garvey) on a countback.
Rossmore from Co Monaghan -- home club of Ireland rugby star Tommy Bowe -- were only three points behind on 75 and that put captain Mickey Nugent, lady captain Grainne O'Reilly and honorary secretary Henry Durnin into third place.
Last of the qualifiers, but certainly not least, was the Portsalon combination of captain Hugh McGinley, lady captain Vera Kearney and vice-captain Donal Callaghan on 74 points.
It is interesting to note that three of the top-four finishers were from links courses, with Rossmore the only parkland representatives among the teams which go through to the final at The K Club on Thursday, September 2.
You'd imagine the links teams would have nose bleeds at the sight of all those trees and the water hazards on the elegant and impressive Slieve Russell course, but the boys and girls from the seaside brought their 'A game'.
County Sligo produced the goods, scoring 37 points on the front nine and 41 on the back stretch. Their strong finish over the last three holes -- scoring five points, six points, and five points -- proved the tie-breaker.
"We're delighted to be here and to be presented with these lovely prizes, but what I'll take from it is the memory of a lovely day out in excellent company and playing on this beautiful golf course," Forkan said. "And thanks so much to our sponsors Allianz and the Irish Independent.
"Getting sponsorship is a harder task now than in the past, and it's great that Allianz and the Irish Independent are showing their commitment to golf and to the clubs."
Seapoint captain Kierans was thrilled to report six birdies -- two each -- by the Seapoint team. Now that's what I call dovetailing! Lady captain Ryan set the tone by scoring a two on the par-three fourth for four points, and thought 'that was fun, let's do it again'. So she did -- with another two and another four points on the par-three seventh.
Point taken by the lads -- Garvey got a birdie three on the 338-yard, par-four eighth. Where are you captain?
Well, Kierans answered that question with birdies on the par-five ninth and the par-four 10th. And just to round off the birdie blitz, Garvey got his second at the par-five 18th.
Rossmore is the club where former internationals Vari and Michelle McGreevy learned their golf, and the course has recently been upgraded.
Club captain Nugent led from the front. The 12-handicapper opened with two nett birdies on the first two holes en route to contributing 37 points and getting on the card 17 times. O'Reilly and Durnin played their part in adding steadily to the score, and they can all look forward to honing their games through the summer before the K Club final.
Portsalon set a high target, with captain McGinley calling for a big effort and Kearney and Callaghan didn't let their skipper down. The Donegal trio turned with 43 points in the bag, and the captain said: "Same again, please."
What happened next?
"Well, we had a good 10th hole for five points, but after that we struggled. Maybe it was the sight of all that water and those trees got to us. We're not used to that but thankfully we did enough to get through," said McGinley.
Allianz, represented by Donal Bollard and Eugene Barnwell, presented special mementos of the occasion to the Slieve Russell captain Paddy Keaveny, lady captain Norma Richardson and honorary secretary Fergal Maguire. As host club, they automatically gain a place in the final.
Prior to the dinner for our event, Keaveny and Richardson made a presentation to Lisa and Leona Maguire on behalf of the club to mark their selection on the Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup team.
The Maguire twins and Danielle McVeigh of Royal County Down Ladies are the Irish representatives on the side to play the USA in Boston from Friday, June 11, to Sunday, June 13.
78 pts: Co Sligo (Pat Forkan 12, Patricia O'Connell 30, Joe Gannon 21)
(won on countback)
78 pts: Seapoint (N Kierans 11, Miriam Ryan 21, John Garvey 6)
75 pts: Rossmore (Mickey Nugent 12, Grainne O'Reilly 26, Henry Durnin 22)
74 pts: Portsalon (Hugh McGinley 21, Vera Kearney 19, Donal Callaghan 14)
Other leading scores
73 pts: Slieve Russell (Paddy Keaveny 10, Norma Richardson 30, Fergal Maguire 18)
73 pts: Ballybofey & Stranorlar (Brendan Forkan 15, Dolores Devaney 12, Lawrence Devenney)
72 pts: Headfort (Tom Briody 11, Eustelle Conneely 17, Jimmy O'Brien 16)
70 pts: Letterkenny (Brian O'Reilly 19, Monica McDonagh 20, Eamonn O'Carroll 13)