Saturday 19 October 2019

Four men in a van back Courtown's bid for glory

Wexford side's supporters go the extra mile as club chase All-Ireland title, writes Brian Keogh

In it together: Supporter Eileen O’Brien (left) and team members Catherine Ledwidge (centre) and Barbara Kelly (right) celebrate Courtown’s Mid-Leinster success at Bunclody Golf Club. Picture by Pat Cashman
In it together: Supporter Eileen O’Brien (left) and team members Catherine Ledwidge (centre) and Barbara Kelly (right) celebrate Courtown’s Mid-Leinster success at Bunclody Golf Club. Picture by Pat Cashman

Brian Keogh

Courtown supporters are going the extra mile to support them in the semi-finals of the AIG Senior Foursomes at Knightsbrook Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort today.

The Annual AIG Ladies Cups and Shields Final are the culmination of months of hard work and competition for 30 teams from the four corners of Ireland and the Senior Foursomes one of the most demanding of the six events.

Team manager Eileen Cullen expects to have lots of support at Knightsbrook this week with some of their most ardent supporters sleeping in a camper van ahead of today's clash with Limerick or Roscommon.

"We will have plenty of support from the club, including four men who have gone off to Spain," Eileen reports.

"This is a good one. They've parked it at the airport and plan to fly in on Wednesday morning and then drive up to Knightsbrook and support us.

"One is Mairead Sunderland's husband Colin and the others are Brian Hughes, Paddy Donoghue and one of their friends. So we are hoping to get two wins and then head back to the club to celebrate!"

They know it won't be easy but having won their first All Ireland title by claiming the AIG Junior Foursomes last year, they are keen for more success.

"We beat Enniscorthy and Wexford in our area and they are always very tough," Eileen said. "They invariably beat us, so it was a great achievement to get through to the All Ireland finals.

"Our Lady Captain, Sorcha Howell plays with Denise Kavanagh; Katie O'Harte (4), who plays on the ILGU circuit, partners Catherine Ledwidge and then Sarah Donnellan plays with Mairead Sunderland.

"We are going into the unknown in that we don't know Roscommon or Limerick, but we have an excellent panel with Mary Osborne and Barbara Kelly our subs."

East Leinster champions Woodbrook will be looking to the likes of Sue Philips, Siobhan McCartan and Nicola Coffey for inspiration when they face Ulster champions Massereene.

The Co Antrim side beat Royal Portrush in their area final with the talents of Girls' interprovincial Lucy Simpson, Jenny Parkhill, Lisa McMeekin, Heather Myles, Amy Kelly and Naomi Gordon Foster.

Woodbrook may take some stopping after they came through East Leinster impressively by topping the qualifiers at Old Conna and then beating Delgany, Dun Laoghaire, Hermitage and Sutton.

It's a massive occasion for all and the culmination of months of competition with some 15,000 golfers of all abilities teeing it up in all competitions.

As ILGU Chief Executive Sinead Heraty points out, it's a dream opportunity for women and girls to add to their wins in the District finals and create history for their clubs.

"The AIG Ladies Cups and Shields are the most popular interclub competitions, and all clubs start the year with the ambition to win a District or National pennant," she said.

"In total, there are six competitions - four singles and two foursomes competitions, covering all handicap ranges from a combined 14 for the Senior Foursomes, right up to 36 for the Challenge Cup, which is hugely popular because you have a great mix of older women who have gone out in handicap and young girls who are starting off."

The action began in Spring and with more than 350 clubs entering teams at the start of the year, interest is enormous.

Kilmashogue, Rathcore, Dromoland, Castlereagh Hills, Castlerock, New Forest, Tulfarris and Moyola Park will all be making their first appearances in the finals while Limerick join Castlebar, Mullingar and Newlands in their bid for success in multiple events.

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