There was a significant win for Limerick golf at wind lashed Skerries GC last weekend when Castletroy's Fergus Harrold (2) and Shirley Real (5) captured the Leinster Branch GUI-sponsored, prestigious East of Ireland Mixed Foursomes Championship - virtually the mixed foursomes championship of Ireland.
There is no bigger scratch event in this format in the country. A battling two round total of 10-over par, 156 (78, 78) meant they finished two strokes clear of Woodbrook's Peter McNeill (Scr) and Malone's current Irish international player, Louise Coffey (+2), who took the runner up spot on a count back from Castle's Eoghan McKeever and Carlow's Aedin Murphy and Daniel Holland & Sally Ann Lenehan (both Castle).
The Castletroy pair had never played the course before, which was playing extremely long and difficult in the gusting conditions. Because there was a shotgun start, Harrold and Real began on the fourth.
Passing the clubhouse in the afternoon they were told they 'had a chance of winning' so they buckled down and made three brave pars - none of them more important that at the 'par-6' third hole, which was out of reach in three shots, where Shirley holed the bravest of putt from 15-feet for the sweetest of victories.
Fergie's 'big contribution' was holing out a six-iron on the 10th for a dramatic eagle. The open competition is limited to 36-pairs with the lowest combined handicaps.
Castletroy & Ballykisteen Chase All-Ireland Glory in Dundalk - By becoming Munster champions at Dungarvan, County Waterford three weekends ago, the Castletroy Ladies Junior Cup team and Ballykisteen Intermediate Cup squad have qualified for the Irish finals of the Irish Ladies Golf Union's Inter Club Match Play Championship Play Offs at Dundalk GC next week.
In a nail-biting Munster Junior Cup Final, Castletroy had to pull out all the stops to squeeze past a determined Mallow team. Fiona Corbett played with supreme confidence to win the vital top match by 4 /2. Eimear Costello provided the perfect back up by winning on the 14th green to put the Maroon Brigade in a strong position to advance.
Then it started to wrong as Sarah Vaughan and Ethna Leonard both lost on the 17th leaving their tail gunner, Leonie Campbell, in the hot seat and facing into a nerve-tingling, sudden death play off.
Amid mounting tension and in front a large gathering of enthusiastic spectators, Leonie remained calm and played the hole in a 'perfect' regulation par to clinch the Provincial Pennant and a place in the All Ireland finals. Rachel Maher and Shirley Real managed the team expertly while Yvonne Cassidy and Elaine Guinan were the unused substitutes.
This talented Castletroy squad has won the Irish Junior Cup before. They are a focused group intent on repeating the glory they tasted at -------- in ------. Rachel Maher put it best: "All our hard practice is paying off."
At Dundalk, Castletroy will meet the winners of the Belvoir Park from Ulster and Wexford clash in the All-Ireland semi-final when the matches will be played with great determination, camaraderie and spirit and with a great deal of colour and noise attached.
The other semi-final sees Roscommon and Stackstown in opposition. The ILGU differs from the GUI in so far as there are five 'provincial' districts as opposed to the four provinces as they are normally recognized.
To balance the somewhat top heavy nature and dominance of metropolitan clubs, Leinster is divided into East Leinster, consisting of mainly the Dublin clubs, and Mid-Leinster (Midlands) made up of the Leinster counties 'outside the Pale.'
The ILGU Intermediate Cup is consistently the most competitive of all. Ballykisteen played five, tight matches to reach the Munster Final against Fermoy. Displaying an excellent standard of golf for players of 15 to 21-handicap, the Tipperary girls surprised even themselves by romping home by 3-matches to nil with the other two called in.
They won't find it quite so easy at Dundalk where they will have disadvantage of playing that 'nuisance' of a third match against Malone (Ulster) before (hopefully) facing the Connacht champions, Portumna for a place in the final.
The other semi-finalists are Wicklow and Edmondstown. Intermediate Cup - Munster Final - Fermoy 1; Ballykisteen 4. Elaine Murphy (15) lost to Kaelin O'Keeffe (15), 6&5; Martha Brennan (16) halved with Jane Cowhey (16); Bríd Quane (18) lost to Jill Mc Cormack (18), 4&3;Yvonne Stephenson (20) lost to Sarah Toomey (19), 5&4;Pauline Morrison (21) halved with Caitlin Shippam (21). Here's wishing both the Castletroy and Ballykisteen teams the very best of good luck in Dundalk next week.
Words of the Wise
What is the cry we hear today -- this or that is unfair! A golfer comes in from a round, and some bunker or green has spoiled his score, and he proceeds to damn the course and the whole world. And all this because he approaches golf selfishly, with such an exaggeration of ego that he is convinced he is not only equal to coping with nature, but that he should never be humbled by her - Max Behr