Sunday 21 January 2018

Interesting times and old foes await Murray

Pat Murray after winning the South of Ireland Championship at Lahinch in 2012. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Pat Murray after winning the South of Ireland Championship at Lahinch in 2012. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Dermot Gilleece

While awaiting his interview for the general manager's job at Clontarf GC, Pat Murray headed for the pro shop and a chat with a one-time amateur friend and rival, Eamonn Brady. In fact both of them gained international status in the same Ireland team at Royal Portrush in 1995.

As it happens, Murray is to start his new position tomorrow (Feb 27) in succession to Arthur Cahill, who is retiring. Which means that the 45-year-old former Irish Close and South of Ireland champion, who plays off plus-four, can look forward to friendly jousts on level terms with Brady, if the mood takes him.

Though Brady can also boast success at championship level as a two-time winner of 'the West', Murray holds a further distinction reserved for the very few. It happened in 1998 when Shandon Park's Michael Hoey captured the revived Irish Amateur Open Strokeplay Championship on its return to Royal Dublin.

Though he finished a modest 14th, the Tipperaryman became the talk of the clubhouse, because of a hole-in-one at the par-four 16th - a very rare bird rendered all the more memorable by the presence of Christy O'Connor Snr, behind the green.

Granted the tee had been moved forward, so facilitating Murray's three wood, but it remained a splendid effort. Which sharpened my surprise on discovering that the feat had been done twice previously in competition by local man, Brendan McShane. And there was also an earlier effort from another Royal Dublin member, Michael Collins.

On writing all of this at the time, I received a severe reprimand from a reader who claimed, quite correctly: "You overlooked Maire Griffin." Then a 12-handicap member of Clontarf, Mrs Griffin did it when the all-male club were celebrating their centenary in 1985.

That was when herself and her late husband, Aidan, the former Dublin county goalkeeper, played a mixed foursomes opposite local member Paddy Higgins and his wife Marie.

Meanwhile, as a Royal Dublin member, Brady was a notable absentee from the '98 Strokeplay, due to college commitments in the US. He was at The Island, however, for the Irish Close a month later, when only a stroke separated himself and Murray in strokeplay qualifying.

All of which points to interesting times ahead on Donnycarney Road.

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