Limerick's All-Ireland fourball champions
LIMERICK Golf Club travelled all the way to Roe Park Golf resort in County Derry last weekend to take part in the first of the five All-Ireland Finals of Inter Club Championships that they will be involved in as Munster champions, before September comes to an end.
The GUI's newest All -Ireland competition is contested between five pairs of 15-handicappers and upwards in a fourball, better ball format, with a minimum aggregate handicap allowance of 34 strokes, drawn from golfers that make up the vast majority of members in every golf club who normally would not have aspirations of national success on their minds.
Non-playing captain, Paddy Power, a former All Ireland Junior Cup winner in 1988 used his vast experience to inspire his charges to combine as a collective and play focused golf by reminding them that: “All-Ireland titles are not easily won and don't come around very often.”
Torrid and tense matches with County Cavan and Ardee ensued with both only decided after extra time (holes) was played.
It fell to ‘cool as a breeze’ No. 5s, Hugh Conlon and Mick Ahern (a one-time goalkeeper with the safest of hands) to secure the match-winning points.
Playing No. 3, Paul Byrnes and Maurice Hickey hardly broke sweat when playing 'exceptional' golf for such high handicappers to win on the 11th; not once but twice. Showing the determination and nerves of steel that won The McCarthy Cup in 1973, Eamonn Grimes combined astutely with Pat Lee to win a vital point in the key No. 1 position.
Ger Naughton partnered with Edgar Ahern and Ger Gleeson with Gavin Cross also played vital roles.
This weekend Limerick are on the road again; involved in Senior Cup and Barton Shield action at Westport while the following weekend, Limerick GC's ladies will go for glory in the ILGU Senior Foursomes and Junior Cup.
Disappointing HIMs at Lahinch - One shudders to think what the Irish Open at Lahinch last July would have been like if the same weather was thrown at the elements-bedraggled, players and spectators during the Home Internationals last week.
Ireland's rate of success at this level has been unprecedented in recent years but not this time. Winning the Raymond Trophy four times in succession between 2014 and 2017 is no mean feat but any hope of another victory was killed ‘stone dead’ on the very first day by a determined Scotland outfit.
In team match play a good start is more than half the battle. Ireland did not start well and the loss of the injured Amateur champion, James Sugrue, after the first series of foursomes matches was of zero help to Team Captain, John Carroll of LOI soccer fame with Cork Celtic, reducing his selection options and flexibility.
Being non-playing captain is no easy task and when momentum swings against you, it is almost impossible to get it back. Sugrue's 'injury woes' were a big contributing factor. Easy for me to say but one wonders why an obviously half fit golfer was there, at all?
A new rule this year that no caddies would be allowed worked well and it did help to streamline and speed up play noticeably. Having to watch the ritual of four people studying putts from all sides in foursomes matches is just too much synchronised choreography for most spectators to bear.
I cannot help myself asking if the 'HIMs' are losing their importance'? England and Scotland rarely field full-strength sides.
Neither does Ireland due to attendance at Colleges in the USA. John Murphy and Mark Power were marked ‘absent’ being already back in their classrooms, fully committed to their studies.
Observing the team dynamic at any level in golf is always interesting. Danielle Kang of the USA brought an unusual approach to the Solheim Cup last week, by publicly tempting the 'easily annoyed' golfing gods who lie in wait to destroy anyone who gets uppity.
Ms Kang went 'too far' when she trumped what used to be my own, privately-expressed, internal battle cry: kill or be killed.
That's only because I hate losing more than I love winning and if you know that somebody is out to 'kill' you and your only means of defence is to kill first - so be it. Kang said she wanted to “take souls, crush the Europeans and make them cry.” Talk about winning friends and influencing people?
Patrick Reed, playing the pantomime villain and firing up the crowd with his “shush” gestures in Ryder Cup matches seems like a delicate pussycat in comparison.
No wonder I was delighted that the European ladies brought off a thrilling and unlikely victory that went down to the last putt on the last green.
Golf is normally a lonely, private, bloodless sport. You are usually on your own trying to build a score to better (not beat) opponents that are elsewhere on the golf course, but match play is different.
You are pitted against one opponent and you must take him on in a face-to-face, duel to the death. It is you or him. Win or lose. Kill or be killed. Fight or die! That's the essence of match play.
There is only one winner. Nobody comes second. Even if you are playing on a team, you are isolated from your team mates and are expected to produce a winning point for the team, but you must do it entirely on your own.
Words of the Wise: Stroke Play identifies the best golfer; match play reveals the stronger character.