Castletroy lead way at glorious Glasson
TEE TO GREEN
THE stage is set for the final of the 2011 Allianz-Irish Independent Executive Trophy after the fifth qualifier of the campaign was staged at scenic Glasson Golf Hotel and Country Club.
Much to the delight of the participating teams, the weather gods were in benevolent mood and the elegant Christy O'Connor Jnr-designed parkland layout, situated alongside the Shannon, was a lovely place for our golfers to parade their skills.
Scoring reflected the conditions and Castletroy, represented by captain Kevin Argue, lady captain Jackie Leahy and president Tony Hackett, led the way home with a handsome total of 86 points.
They were just a point ahead of a Westport team that was in hot pursuit. Tom Walsh (captain), Maura Jennings (lady captain) and president Niall Halpin returned an 85-point tally to book their place at the K Club tomorrow week, September 1.
There was little room to spare as Athenry's combination of captain Michael Mulryan, lady captain Kay Duggan and honourary treasurer Fergal Melia chased into third place on 84 points.
Fourth place in the official standings was taken by Galway GC's team of Kieran O'Mahony (captain), lady captain Antoinette Waldron and William Herterich (president) with 83 points.
Considering the format was just two to score on the stableford system, the standard was pretty hot for the leading places. These clubs will now join the previous qualifiers from Portmarnock Links, Malone GC, Cork GC and Mount Juliet in the final at the K Club.
Peter Kilcullen, assistant director commercial sales of Allianz, echoed the feelings of all the club officers present when he thanked Glasson and the owners Tom and Breda Reid for the excellence of the course, the quality of the service provided by all the staff and for the fine post-golf meal provided for the participants.
Looking out from the stylish banquet area, which is the centrepiece of Glasson's growing popularity as a wedding venue, the closing holes and the backdrop of the Shannon offered a perfect vista for the apres-golf.
The qualifying teams took the kudos, but among the club officials present were two notable officers -- former Offaly football star Tony McTague and lady captain of Howth GC Breda Mullally. Tony is currently president of Birr GC, while Breda (nee Bradshaw), is a daughter of the late, great golfing legend Harry Bradshaw.
On the day, Tony and Breda's teams were not successful in qualifying for the final, but they are fine ambassadors for their clubs.
And so, to the winners. Castletroy didn't make too many mistakes as once they made a good start, the trio played very consistent golf for nines of 45/41, and avoided any big disasters.
"The president played fantastic golf, the lady captain kept telling us to keep it going and we all contributed along the way," said Kevin Argue.
Jackie Leahy -- a former women's hockey international who took up golf at the age of 50 -- plays off a seven handicap. She and her fellow team members now look forward to their next test at Straffan in the final.
Westport kept the Mayo flag flying high, scoring 42 points on the outward half and covering the inward nine in 43. Very tidy golf, indeed. Captain Tom Walsh (13 handicap) led the way home in fine style. He had five pars and three bogies for the eight holes on which he contributed on the back nine.
Maura Jennings and Niall Halpin kept their end up and the team maintained their momentum all the way to the finish.
Athenry have no excuse for failing to bring their 'A' game to the final, as the Co Galway club recently opened an impressive new practice area, comprising short-game practice area, long-game practice area and bunkers.
Minister for Sport Michael Ring attended Athenry for the official opening of the new practice area, which is a significant addition to the facilities.
No doubt Michael Mulryan, Kay Duggan and Fergal Melia will make good use of the practice ground to hone their skills in time for the September 1 final.
The captain and treasurer coined a nickname for the lady captain as they cruised around Glasson -- "one-putt Duggan".
"Putting was very tricky, but we really were very lucky with the putts. I don't think we missed any putt from five feet or less which was brilliant for us and we got a few long putts as well," said captain Mulryan. "The lady captain did really well. 'One-putt Duggan' -- that's what we christened her as we went around the course."
Galway GC ensured the Tribesmen had a second club qualifying for the final, as their team filed an 83-point total. Six-handicap captain Kieran O'Mahony had 34 points on his own, while the president William Herterich and lady captain Antoinette Waldron showed the essence of teamwork by backing up the captain's display in impressive fashion.