REMINISCENT of Seve Ballesteros at Royal Lytham & St Anne’s in 1979 when the legendary, Spaniard recovered in spectacular fashion from a makeshift car park beside the 16th fairway on his way to winning his first major championship, Michael O’Kelly performed similar heroics for Limerick Golf Club in the Munster Final of the AIG Senior Cup at Dungarvan last Saturday.
1-up playing the 18th hole and the entire result depending on him, O’Kelly’s ambitious second shot overshot the par-5 green by 60-yards thanks to a lively bounce and the strong following wind. The ball came to rest underneath a row of parked cars. After some discussion with officials it was ruled to be still on the golf course and in play. Matters became more complicated when the ball of Shane Livesey (Monkstown) received similar ‘forward momentum’ and ended up lodged in a bush.
After a long delay waiting for the cars to be moved and Livesey endeavoring to locate the correct spot to drop for a penalty stroke, both players played indifferent chips. When Livesey holed a courageous 30-footer for par, O’Kelly faced the task of sinking a nervy 5-footer to win. A successful putt was the final act that saw Limerick through to the All-Ireland Finals at Carton House in September for the first time since 2005. AIG Senior Cup Munster Final - Mike Reddan lost to Donal McDonnell, 5&4; Pat Murray beat Nick Moore, 3&1; Mike O’Kelly beat Shane Livesey, 1-up; Darragh Fitzgerald lost to Eoghan Long, 4&3; Justin Kehoe beat Sean Desmond, 4&3.
That was the end of the good news. In the Munster Semi-Final of the Junior Cup, Limerick’s side of three youngsters and two veterans went down to Ballybunion. Ronan Cross lost to Ciaran Vaughan, 2&1; Frank Geary beat Peter Brazil, 4&2; Senan Carroll beat Luke O’Brien, 4&3; Brian Slattery halved with Eoghan C. O’Neill; Ed Hayes beat Damien Gleeson, 4&2.
On the previous weekend, Limerick’s impressive progress in the Fred Daly Trophy came to an abrupt end in the Munster semi-final. 13-year old Daniel O’Sullivan was the hero for Mallow as his win on the 18th sealed a 4-3 win for Mallow against Kinsale at Gold Coast GC, Dungarvan. Both Cork teams had earlier semi-final wins over West Waterford and Limerick.
Ciaran Vaughan at No. 1, lead the Limerick team with great courage winning a high-quality match on the 19th by shooting three, superbly played birdies on the last four holes. From the first tee shot, Luke O’Brien was embroiled in a thriller with the much-decorated, scratch man, John Murphy. When Murphy holed a closing 25-footer for a birdie on the 18th, O’Brien had played his heart out to no avail. Except for Morgan Hanley at No. 7 who was 4-up with four to go when he was called in that was the end of the good news from a Limerick point of view. Mallow will now represent Munster in the All-Ireland finals at Moyola Park, Derry on August 25th.
Munster Semi-Final - Kinsale beat Limerick 5-2. Gary Ward (0) lost to Ciaran Vaughan (2) at 19th; John Murphy (0) beat Luke O’Brien (4), 2 up; Mark Healy (2) beat Shane O’Neill (5), 3&1; Eric Rumley (4) beat Eoghan C O’Neill (5), 4&3; James Bohan (6) beat Ross Fitzgerald (5), 3&2; Daniel O’Flaherty (9) halved with Eoghan O’Neill (5) (Kinsale 2-up on 16th tee); Bruce Matthews (11) halved with Morgan Hanley (6) (Limerick 4-up on 15th fairway.)
Limerick born Cian McNamara who is the club professional at Monkstown Golf Club these days shot a 66 the lowest score ever recorded in an event of this type on the famous Little Island golf course to win the Cork Golf Club Pro-Am on Monday last.
The 29-year old, Limerick man did most of the damage early in his round going four under par after only six holes thanks to a hat trick of birdies on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th soon followed by yet another on the 6th. A bogey five at the tricky 8th hole was a setback but birdies on the 10th and 11th took him to five under. A seventh birdie at the 16th set a target that IPGA Order of Merit leader Eamonn Brady (Clontarf) and John Dwyer (Ashbourne) could not quite match with both finishing in joint-second place, one shot behind. It was McNamara’s first big win of the season and he was suitably delighted and quick to praise the condition of the course, especially the greens: “Playing at Cork GC is always a five star experience and it’s why everyone looks forward to this Pro-Am. Personally, I’m delighted because Fergal Deasy, this year’s Captain is a good friend.”
McNamara had little time to rest on his laurels and was back in action the following morning to shoot 68 at the inaugural Pierse Motors Pro-Am at Ballykisteen, which secured the third place cheque. Old Conna professional, Donal Gleeson, who shrugged off the trauma of being stung by bees while playing the 11th shot 66 to leave some big names in his wake. Ballybunion’s Duncan Purcell finished second with 67. Neil O’Briain, Colm Moriarty and Damian Mooney joined McNamara on 68s. Philip Walton (70) and David Higgins amongst those on 71. Coolattin’s Paul Masterson and his amateur partners, Bill Hanley, Barra O’Dwyer and Brendan O’Keefe topped the Pro-Am leaderboard with 101 points.