Tribes' heroic hurlers inspire Portumna and Galway to glory
The feelgood factor arising from the Galway hurlers' last gasp victory over Tipperary to reach the All-Ireland hurling final helped inspire two of the county's top golfing teams.
Just two days after Anthony Cunningham's men eclipsed the Premier County and sent the whole of Galway into joyful celebrations, Portumna and Galway golf clubs came good in the Allianz & Irish Independent Officer Golf Challenge qualifier.
The venue was Glasson Golf Hotel & Country Club, the challenge was to end up among the four qualifiers for the national final at The K Club on September 3, and Portumna and Galway GC took the first and fourth places respectively.
Also booked for the final are the home team from Glasson in second place, and Dublin's Lucan GC who came third.
Portumna, represented by men's captain Matt Donohue (9), lady captain Anne Fahy (14) and club president Ger Brehony (14), rose to the occasion in fine style by scoring 84 points to earn the pennant as leading qualifiers, as well as Waterford Crystal mementos.
They started on the 10th tee, opened up with six points on the two-to-score stableford format and kept the pedal to the metal pretty much all the way over their next 17 holes.
Portumna turned with 43 points, came back in 41, and when all the cards were in, they had four points to spare on the Glasson team who finished on 80 points.
This event, which is now in its 20th consecutive year, always rewards teams who can dovetail well, and Portumna did that in exemplary fashion.
Captain Matt, lady captain Anne and president Ger each figured on the card 12 times, so as one player was out of a hole, another came good to maintain the team's momentum.
Glasson men's captain Philip Fagan (16) was blessed among women as he played alongside lady captain Tina Donohoe (22) and honorary secretary Marian Diffley (17).
Local knowledge certainly helped the home team, who scored 41 points for the first nine.
Their best total on a single hole for the back nine was seven points on the par-three 11th, where Philip got a birdie two and Tina made par.
The Glasson trio made few mistakes on their inward half and 39 points for that back nine proved to be enough to clinch second place by a point.
Captain Donal Singleton (20), lady captain Catherine Gilhooley (27) and hon secretary Chris Lundy (17) flew the flag for Lucan among the qualifiers, and delivered 79 points.
Lucan began their round off the 10th tee and maintained commendable consistency, scoring 40 on their front nine, and 39 coming home.
The Galway GC team will be keen to take the bragging rights from their fellow county club Portumna in The K Club, but the main priority was to ensure their place on the timesheet for September 3, and that goal was achieved with 78 points.
Captain Donal O'Sullivan (12), lady captain Margaret Scott (26) and hon secretary Philip Duffy (16) started on the first tee and were 42 points to the good after nine.
They stuttered slightly on the return trip, scoring just two points at the par-5 14th and the par-4, index 1 16th, but a 35-point tally was good enough for a qualifying 77.
As always, the course at Glasson, which was designed by Christy O'Connor Jnr, offered a fair but demanding test for the participants in the Challenge.
Scenically situated alongside Lough Ree, the course has some wonderful views and the facilities are top class.
Glasson opened for business in 1993 after Tom and Breda Reid commissioned O'Connor to convert their farm into a golf facility.
Over the last 22 years, the Reid clan have developed and grown the off-course offering.
Their 65-bedroom hotel is a popular venue for leisure breaks and weddings, as well as for golf, as it is centrally situated and easily accessible from all corners of the country.
Sean McGrath, Director of Sales and Operations, Allianz, congratulated Tom and Breda Reid on the excellence of their facilities, and the level of service and hospitality extended to the participants.
"I could only recommend to any golfer that a visit to Glasson is well worthwhile," he said.
"To our club officers who do so much for Irish golf, I extend my best wishes for the rest of their year in office.
"As a country, we have all enjoyed the success of the likes of Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry this year and I would urge the club officers to ensure that more young talent comes through from the clubs to follow Rory and Shane onto the world stage."
The other finalists from previous host venues were:
The Links Portmarnock
Edmondstown (Turlough O'Sullivan, Martina Torreggiani, Gerry Hiney); Greystones (Michael Joyce, Jeanne Thorpe, Gerry Kenny); The K Club (David Coyle, Liz Brady, Tony Kelly); Beech Park GC (Gerry Doyle, Helen Nugent, Pearse Woods).
Tralee (Ger O'Connor, Bernie Buckley, Peter Naughton); Doneraile (Eddie Roche, Kay O'Keeffe, Sean Collins); Cork GC (Fergal Deasy, Katherine O'Kelly Lynch, Robin Turnbull); Kinsale (Micheál Landers, Denis O'Sullivan, Vera Webb).
Letterkenny (Gerard Duffy, Margo Bermingham, Anne Condon); Slieve Russell (Albert Martin , Margaret Martin, Cathal Brady); Malone (Peter Law, Eleanor McKelvey, Stephen Smith); Belvoir Park (Gary Jones, Pauline Bailie, Maureen Donaldson).
Tramore (David Jackman, Breda Canty, Ray Scott); Naas (Gerry Berrigan, Colette Osborne, Har Hannigan; The Heath (Dermot Carolan, Kate Brickley, Tom Tyrell); Birr (Des McDowell, Pauline Needham, Frank Kenny).