McMahons and Broderick deliver glory for Gort Golf Club
Philip Reid (The Irish Times), with the victorious Gort GC team, Michael McMahon, captain, Margaret McMahon, lady captain, Gerry Broderick and Sean McGrath CEO of Allianz at the K Club. Photograph: Tom Honan.
There’s a bond between Michael and Margaret McMahon that goes beyond the mere fact that they’re actually husband and wife.
Let’s drift back a few years to a captain’s drive-in at Gort Golf Club where Michael’s first action – a badly hooked drive – was to hit Margaret on the head with a golf ball travelling quite a pelt: cue 999 calls, her dispatch in an ambulance and the need for a number of stitches and, we trust, some follow-up flowers and TLC from the hubby.
Fast forward to 2017 and, in a year where Michael and Margaret share the distinction of holding the respective men’s and ladies’ captaincies at Gort, the golfing duo – with Gerry Broderick completing the team – showed that such hooked drives and emergency hospital visits are now only part of the story as the westerners completed another worthy chapter with a stunning victory in the Allianz Irish Times Officers’ Challenge national final at The K Club.
In difficult, windy conditions, the Gort team – Michael playing off 22, Broderick off 13 and Margaret sporting a handicap of 28 – contrived to conquer the wonderfully conditioned Palmer Ryder Cup course with a score of 81 points (two of three counting on each hole) to finish nine points clear of runners-up Shandon Park with Fota Island edging out tournament hosts and defending champions The K Club for third.
With Galway capturing the Liam MacCarthy Cup, perhaps there’s something in the water out west these days.
Anyway Gort – who now have a pennant to proudly display in the clubhouse, with each winning member also receiving beautiful Newbridge cutlery – were in a league of their own in outplaying all comers in this hugely popular competition which featured qualifiers at Portmarnock Links, Cork, Malone, Mount Juliet and Galway Bay before 23 teams battled it out in the national final.
“Ah, I just can’t believe it,” repeated Michael McMahon after Gort’s win, during which his wife Margaret admitted to “early nerves” which saw her fail to make any impact on the card for the opening four holes.
In such circumstances, you’d imagine that hubby Michael would be the one seeking to calm her down.
“Not a bit of it,” quipped Margaret, who acknowledged that it was actually Broderick – a seasoned player having captured Connacht Mixed Foursomes honours with the club last year – who provided the calming influence.
“Calm down, relax, he kept telling me,” recalled Margaret of Broderick’s on-course psychology that worked a treat as she contributed to the card no fewer than 11 times over the remaining holes, including a par five on the 10th (for four points).
In what was a solid, all-round team performance, Michael got the team off to a flying start with a birdie on the Par 4 first hole where he hit a rescue club to five feet and calmly rolled in the putt. For strongman Broderick’s part, there was also a birdie to jot onto the scorecard: his came on the Par 5 fourth. Little did they know, they were already leaving most teams in their slipstream by that stage.
As it happened, the real battle was for the runners-up prize and Shandon Park – which has produced players such as multi-European Tour winner Michael Hoey in a rich history – managed to claim second place by the smallest of margins. The Belfast club trio of Diane Conway, Ian Hanna and Lyle Carson, who fought through a knee ligament injury, finished with 72 points with Conway – who birdied the ninth, their finishing hole – acknowledging how well the team had “dovetailed” through the round.
Fota Island might look back with some regret on how they played the Par 4 seventh hole, a favourite of course owner Dr Michael Smurfit. It didn’t dispense any favours however to the Cork trio who registered a complete blank on the difficult hole which has water in play down the right off the tee and also in front of the green.
Seán McGrath, chief executive offer of Allianz, commended The K Club on the superb quality of the golf course which provided a worthy test for all the finalists and congratulated all of the teams who had reached the final.
“This is a special, unique competition which brings together the captains, men’s and ladies, with their officers and I congratulate you on your election to office and the contribution you make to the sport,” he said.
Allianz Irish Times Officers’ Challenge 2017
81 pts: Gort Golf Club (Michael McMahon, Margaret McMahon, Gerry Broderick)
72 pts: Shandon Park Golf Club (Ian Hanna, Diane Conway, Lyle Carson)
71 pts: Fota Island Golf Club (Michael O’Driscoll, Noreen Corbett, Joe Hayden)
Monkstown win Regional Qualifier
Source: Irish Times, May 16th, Philip Read
Peter Kilcullen, chief customer advocate Allianz, with Allianz Irish Times Officers’ Challenge regional winners Monkstown Golf Club officers Colm Ó Riain, president, Martin Walsh, captain, Triona O’Loghlin, lady captain, and Philip Reid, golf correspondent of The Irish Times. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
On the 11th hole of the wonderfully natural parkland terrain of Cork Golf Club, there’s a plaque beside what is known as “Seve’s Tree” – a Spanish chestnut. The words engraved on the blue plate recall a prodigious drive executed on that hole in an exhibition match in August of 1983 when Seve Ballesteros used a persimmon driver to belt a ball which only came to rest – almost out of sight – some 332 metres down the fairway.
Those playing in the regional qualifier of the Allianz Irish Times Officers’ Challenge on the pristine course – designed by Alastair MacKenzie, the surgeon-turned-golf course architect who numbers Augusta National among his creations – made sure to cast an eye in the direction of the plaque, perhaps seeking to gain inspiration from those old endeavours of the late, great Spanish maestro.
As it transpired, on a beautifully sunny day down by the mouth of the River Lee, it was Monkstown Golf Club – featuring a well-balanced team of captain Martin Walsh off six, lady captain Triona O’Loghlin off 27 and president Colm Ó Riain off 22 – who triumphed with a fine score of 82 points, although host club Cork fought the good fight to also qualify along with near-neighbours Fota Island and Limerick as they progress to the national final at The K Club in August.
O’Loghlin proved to be Monkstown’s secret weapon, as it were. The lady captain – back enjoying her golf after a knee replacement – contributed two birdies (nett eagles) which were like winning lotto tickets. On the third, a Par 4 of 253 metres off the red stakes, O’Loghlin hit a drive followed by a wedge approach to three feet and sank the putt; then, on the Par 3 13th, she hit a five-iron to six feet and sank the downhill putt.
“I was a bit anxious at the start,” admitted O’Loghlin, although she attributed her good performance to a club committee outing to Killarney the previous weekend which enabled her to get some tournament sharpness in.
Walsh, a six-handicapper who won an All-Ireland Jimmy Bruen Shield medal with the club at Portstewart in 1995, was a solid influence – including a birdie at the Par 5 11th, on the hole where Seve’s plaque is a feature – while Ó Riain also contributed with four pars (nett birdies) on the card in the two players to count three-player team format.
In ensuring local knowledge played its part, Cork – featuring captain Rob Reardon off eight, lady captain Nuala Lyden off 12 and 78-year-old president Pat Tuttle off 22 – finished with 80 points to claim the runner-up position on the day and ensure progression to the national final at The K Club. It’s a course Reardon is looking forward to getting reacquainted with having played off the Ryder Cup tees oat the Palmer Course on the Monday following that magnificent showpiece of matchplay back in 2006.
Although there was some fine dovetailing in compiling the team score, Lyden was especially valuable on the back nine where she contributed on every hole including six pars on that stretch back to the clubhouse.
Fota Island – captain Michael O’Driscoll playing off five, president Joe Hayden (14) and lady captain Noreen Corbett (29) – came in with 74 points to claim the third qualifying position with the team’s play of the Par 3 seventh hole particularly impressive. There, O’Driscoll and Corbett each hit their tee shots inside three feet which produced a seven pointer that would stand them in good stead.
In a battle for fourth place, Limerick edged out Adare Manor only on countback. Limerick – captain Noel Sexton (22), lady captain Ailish Dilliger (11) and president Dee O’Malley (29) – played solidly throughout. However, O’Malley’s late contribution, scoring on each of the closing six holes, would prove decisive in giving them a ticket to the finals in Straffan.
Peter Kilcullen, the Chief Customer Officer for Allianz, hosted the qualifying tournament and paid tribute to Matt Sands, the general manager of Cork Golf Club, and the staff for the marvellous course set-up with the dry spell up to the event ensuring fiery fairways and fast greens which provided an excellent test.
The remaining regional qualifiers will take place at Malone Golf Club in Belfast (June), Mount Juliet in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny ( July), Galway Bay (August) with the national final scheduled to be played at The K Club on August 28th.
Results (Munster region qualifier at Cork Golf Club)
84pts – Monkstown Golf Club (Martin Walsh, Triona O’Loghlin, Colm Ó Riain).
82pts – Cork Golf Club (Rob Reardon, Nuala Lyden, Pat Tuttle).
74pts – Fota Island Golf Club (Michael O’Driscoll, Noreen Corbett, Joe Hayden).
72pts (on countback) – Limerick Golf Club (Noel Sexton, Ailish Dilliger, Dee O’Malley).