Sport Golf

Saturday 3 December 2016

Tralee team lord of the Manor

Published 01/06/2015 | 02:30

WINNERS: Tralee hon secretary Peter Naughton, captain Ger O’Connor and lady captain Bernie Buckley with Ciaran Whelan of Allianz
WINNERS: Tralee hon secretary Peter Naughton, captain Ger O’Connor and lady captain Bernie Buckley with Ciaran Whelan of Allianz
RUNNERS-UP: Event director Cecil Whelan with Doneraile president Sean Collins, lady captain Kay O’Keeffe and captain Eddie Roche
THIRD: Cork president Robin Turnbull, lady captain Katherine O’Kelly Lynch and captain Fergal Deasy with Adare Manor lady captain Finola O’Donnell
FOURTH: Kinsale president Micheál Landers, captain Denis O’Sullivan and lady captain Vera Webb with Donal Bollard of Allianz (left)

The team from the Kingdom came, saw and conquered to become lords of the Manor in the Allianz-Irish Independent Officer Golf Challenge.

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We're talking Tralee Golf Club; we're talking the elegant environs of Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort, and we're talking friendly but focused competition among captains, lady captains, and honorary officers at the top-rated parkland course in the country.

Ger O'Connor, captain of Tralee GC, ably assisted by lady captain Bernie Buckley and honorary secretary Peter Naughton, led the four qualifying teams home by virtue of their 77 points on a two-to-score format.

They took the winning team's pennant and handsome Waterford Crystal prizes back to Tralee and now look forward to the national final at The K Club on Thursday, September 3.

Just a point behind on 76 were Doneraile, represented by captain Eddie Roche, lady captain Kay O'Keeffe, and vice-captain Sean Collins.

Cork GC came through in third position. Their captain Fergal Deasy, lady captain Katherine O'Kelly Lynch and president Robin Turnbull filed a 70 points total.

Also going to The K Club are the Kinsale team of captain Micheál Landers, lady captain Vera Webb and president Denis O'Sullivan.

Our co-sponsors were represented by Allianz executive Ciaran Whelan, the former Dublin footballer who won two All Stars for his prowess as one of the finest midfielders to grace the game.

Ciaran enjoyed many a tussle with teams from Kerry and Cork, but on this occasion, friendly banter and congratulations to the qualifying teams was the order of the day.

Donal Bollard of Allianz - and the current vice-captain of Grange GC - also played for Dublin, and he was on hand to ensure the smooth running of the event alongside the inimitable Cecil Whelan, the event organiser.

Adare Manor Resort is now owned by well-known businessman JP McManus who raised millions for charity and brought the best of the best to the venue in the years when he ran the hugely successful JP McManus Pro-Am.

The venue is being tipped as a likely future Ryder Cup host, and Tralee captain Ger O'Connor has no doubt that the course and facilities are worthy of such elevated status.

Padraig Harrington won the Irish Open back in 2007 to bridge a 25-year gap since the previous home winner -John O'Leary had triumphed at Portmarnock in 1982. Richard Finch of England won the 2008 Irish Open in another successful staging at Adare.

"We had a fabulous day. The whole experience was wonderful, from the reception we got on arrival to the presentation dinner in the evening," said O'Connor. "I've played the Adare Manor course three or four times, and on the day, it was truly magnificent.

"We played the par-3s very well and got seven points on the last, the par-5 18th and that swung it for us. But it was a pleasure to be there, and thanks to Irish Independent and Allianz for the sponsorship."

That's high praise coming from the captain of one of the finest links courses in Europe, and one which is being upgraded. Work on the ninth has been completed, and alterations to the fourth and fifth holes plus clubhouse improvements are scheduled over the next few years.

Eddie Roche, the captain of Doneraile, knows all about the event, as he was vice-captain last year when the Co Cork team came out of the Adare qualifier and played in final.

His playing partners last time round were Phelim Cotter and Eileen Coleman, and they were very successful, coming second to national winners Castlebar at Straffan. No pressure, then, for the 2015 team!

Lady captain Kay O'Keeffe and president Sean Collins stepped up to the mark to help deliver 76 points and book their place in the final.

"This is my second year to play here and we couldn't have asked for a nicer day. We really enjoyed the golf and we gelled very well, so we're looking forward to the final," said Eddie.

Cork GC captain Fergal Deasy was very pleased with his team's performance and their 70 points total.

The team from Little Island were very tightly handicapped as Fergal plays off one, Katherine O'Kelly Lynch is off 13, and Robin Turnbull is a seven-handicap.

"We found it tough because it's a tough course, but what a fantastic place, and a fantastic venue. It oozes class, the whole place," said Fergal.

Kinsale's 2014 team of Leslie Bryan, Ann Daly and club president Frances Power reached the final and their 2015 representatives also came through the qualifying.

"Yes, Leslie, Ann and Frances blazed a trail for us, so Vera, Denis, and I are delighted to follow them in getting to this year's final and keeping the flag flying for Kinsale," said Micheál Landers.

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