Tralee rule the roost on day of top-class action
THE Kingdom reigned supreme at the Allianz-Irish Independent Executive Trophy qualifier at Cork GC last week as Tralee's team romped to victory. Tralee, represented by club captain Michael O'Connell, president Michael Coote, and lady captain Monica O'Neill, led the field of club officers home with a handsome total of 87 points.
Given that this was in Munster football final week, the craic between the Tralee team and the clubs taking part from Cork was only mighty.
On the Sunday, the Kerry footballers also had the better of matters in Killarney, but at least the Rebel County will also be represented in the Allianz-Irish Independent final at The K Club on September 1.
East Cork were second with 84 points. Kenmare from Kerry also had 84 points for third place, and last, but certainly not least, was the Kanturk team with 82 points.
Sean McGrath, director of sales and operations for Allianz, welcomed the participants and complimented Cork GC on the fine improvements to the course, and noted that despite their responsibilities, the captains, lady captains and club officers brought a great spirit of enjoyment to the day.
"This is a day when we and our co-sponsors, The Irish Independent, can give something back to all of you who are giving great service to your clubs," he said.
"It's an opportunity to meet your peers from other clubs and get together in a relaxed environment. To Cork GC we say well done on the bunkering and the course improvements and we wish you well for the future."
FIRST PLACE QUALIFIERS
TRALEE GC -- 87 points: captain Michael O'Connell (14), lady captain Monica O'Neill (21), president Michael Coote (2).
A front nine of 43 points and a back nine of 44 points illustrated the consistency of the Tralee representatives.
Michael Coote, recent winner of the Munster Seniors Open championship, summed up the day for the team from the Arnold Palmer-designed Tralee course at Barrow.
"The main feature of the round was that we dovetailed well. We got a few birdies in the right place at the right times, and that's what made it for us," he said.
Michael O'Connell noted that Tralee have invested over €3m in improving the course over the last 10 years, and it's paying off, as this year Tralee are hoping for a green-fee income of around €1m.
SECOND PLACE QUALIFIERS
East Cork -- 84 points (on back nine): captain Dan Buckley (15), lady captain Carmel Moloney (22), president Michael Hayes (11).
The pressure was on Dan Buckley, Carmel Moloney and Michael Hayes as previous East Cork teams have qualified for the final in this event, but they rose to the challenge, carding nines of 42, 42.
The captain took careful note of the new bunkering and managed to evade the hazards.
President Michael Hayes commented: "We had no birdie between us. We started well, had a rocky patch in the middle of the round, and a very rocky patch towards the end, but we're delighted we got through."
THIRD PLACE QUALIFIERS
Kenmare -- 84 points: captain Denis Crowley (13), lady captain Breda Murphy (25), president Eleanor Connor-Scarteen.
Captain Denis Crowley was truly blessed among women, as the Kenmare trio came through to reach the final.
Eleanor Connor-Scarteen's last visit to the K Club was for the final day of the 2006 Ryder Cup as a spectator and she is looking forward to competing on the Palmer Course fairways in September alongside Crowley and Breda Murphy.
"We turned with 45 points," said Denis, "but we struggled a bit on the way back to get 39. Happily it was enough, but the main thing is we had a very enjoyable day."
FOURTH PLACE QUALIFIERS
Kanturk -- 82 points: captain Michael Browne (14), lady captain Kate O'Brien (19), vice-captain Donal Begley (12).
The captain, Michael Browne, said it was a lovely surprise that they claimed a qualifying spot.
"We didn't even consider a score. We were delighted just to be here," he said.
"The trip to the K Club is an absolute and utter bonus for us. We were actually surprised, because lots of the teams were saying they were in the 70s. We felt we had left lots of points behind us and we were gone. Then we realised we were in the 80s and it's fantastic that our 82 was good enough to get us through."