Nuremore relishing K Club final after magical day at Malone
It was smiles all round for the team from Nuremore Golf Club in Co Monaghan as club captain Liam Daly accepted the pennant for victory in the Northern qualifying round of the Allianz-Irish Independent Officer Golf Challenge at Malone GC.
The captain, ably backed by the lady captain Barbara Holland and president Peadar Gilsenan, was delighted to accept the special memento on behalf of Nuremore, who scored 76 points.
In friendly but competitive mode, teams made up of club officers from North and South gathered in the lush parkland setting of Malone to enjoy a special day out.
At stake was a place in the national final to be held on the Palmer Course of The K Club, the venue for the 2006 Ryder Cup and for the recent Dubai Duty Free Irish Open won by Rory McIlroy.
That final will be played on Monday, August 29, and the Nuremore team look forward to the experience.
Captain Liam revealed that the team could draw of past experience to help them feature in the top four.
"The lady captain and myself won the Open mixed in Open Week at Malone in July 2008," he said.
"The fact that we had previous knowledge of the course was a benefit to us, no doubt about that.
"But the other thing is that if you like the course - and I like Malone - you tend to play a bit better on it.
"The great thing was that we dovetailed well, everybody contributed, and we had a very enjoyable day.
"I'd also like to thank the sponsors, Irish Independent and Allianz. It is much appreciated by all the club officers who played in Malone."
Nines of 37-39 reflected the consistency of the Nuremore team, who finished a point clear of second-placed Dunmurry, represented by captain Colin Riddel, lady captain Fionnuala McGrady and Alec Johnston (hon treasurer).
Dunmurry claimed the runner-up spot on a countback, as their 36-39 for 75 points was a tad better than hosts Malone's 38-37.
Malone captain Richard Hool, lady captain Janet Pritchard and honorary secretary Stephen Smith held up the honour of the home club in fine fashion.
There is always a degree of pressure on any club which hosts a qualifying event in this competition.
Stephen Smith was also on the Malone team which won their way through to the 2015 final.
On that occasion, he was accompanied by last year's captain Peter Law and lady captain Eleanor McKelvey.
Donabate, the 27-hole parkland complex situated in North County Dublin, came through to clinch the fourth qualifying slot with 73 points.
The margin was close, as captain Liam Bridgette, lady captain Deirdre Reid and president Pat McNeill pipped Castlerock on a countback as both teams finished on 73 points.
Peter Kilcullen, director of sales at Allianz, welcomed the participants on behalf of the sponsors and wished them well for their season in office.
He was impressed not only by the excellent standard of the course but also by the quality of the meal and the friendly welcome from the house staff, headed by secretary-manager Patrick Dean.
"It is always a pleasure to come to Malone, one of the finest parkland courses on this island," he said.
"To the captains, lady captains and honorary officers, I extend my congratulations and thanks to them for their commitment to their clubs and to the game of golf in general.
"It has been a most enjoyable day and we look forward to seeing the qualifying teams in the final at The K Club."
This is the 21st season of this unique event, which makes it one of the longest running sponsorships on the club golf scene.
Over 2,000 captains, lady captains and honorary officers have taken part since it started in 1996.
Details from Malone GC
76pts: Nuremore - Liam Daly (15), Barbara Holland (21), Peadar Gilsenan (19)
75pts (countback): Dunmurry - Colin Riddel (10), Fionnuala McGrady (9), Alec Johnston (26)
75pts: Malone - Richard Hool (12), Janet Pritchard (24), Stephen Smith (12)
73pts: Donabate - Liam Bridgette (13), Deirdre Reid (25), Pat McNeill (12).
EVENTS TO COME
July 26: Mount Juliet
August 16: Galway Bay
August 29: Final, The K Club