Monkstown and Muskerry travel to Carton House this week to play in Europe’s biggest golf competition and both have hopes of returning with an All-Ireland title. Both clubs face All-Ireland semi-finals on Friday morning. Muskerry are in action in the AIG Jimmy Bruen Shield while Monkstown aim to win their first AIG Senior Cup title. Both clubs have been busy preparing, on and off the course. The cost of sending a team to compete in Carton House quickly runs into five figures when you take into account all of the costs associated. Despite the costs, it’s a great opportunity for both clubs and one which all of their members are looking forward to. Monkstown Captain Carl Toal has been involved in several teams himself and he has been busy over the past three weeks. “The Club is on a high since winning the AIG Senior Cup Munster final in Cork Golf Club last month, it was a fantastic achievement to win after coming so close last year in Dungarvan” said the Captain who went on to explain the plan that was put into operation, “Winning the Munster final inevitably brings added cost to the club which we had to address. The Sunday morning after our win in Cork myself, the President Pat O’Donnell, Martin Walsh and Pat O’Keeffe [team managers] met to discuss it. We decided that we would need a few different channels to raise funds to finance our progress. On Monday morning I rang twelve members who indicated to me that if I needed any support during the year to just pick up the phone. We now had our fundraising committee and Ronnie Moore took on the job of Chairman. The enthusiasm and efforts from each and every one of them has been immense. We ran a team event on Friday along with a raffle on the night of entertainment and the members support of this has been colossal. I’d like to thank all the members who have helped our cause greatly, Cain McNamara our PGA Professional who generously offered to sponsor the prizes. Ada O’Sullivan for donating a 50” curved television for our raffle, all the companies who entered teams and sponsored tee boxes.”
With the fundraising plan in place, the Captain took some time to acknowledge Monkstown’s past success and that meant a visit to legendary Irish International Tom Egan. “It was our first win at this level since 1963” said Toal, “so on the Monday after beating Castletroy we took the cup on a visit to Tom Egan a member of the 1963 team and one of our most celebrated golfers here in Monkstown. He was delighted to see us and reminisced with some of the current panel on this time playing senior cup. That was a special day visiting Tom.” Monkstown’s last appearance at the national finals was in the Bruen in 2008 when they hosted the event. Carl was on that team and played a big part in the Munster final, holing a crucial long distance putt against Nenagh in the Munster final. There was talk afterwards the it was a 100 foot put but Carl is happy to limit the exaggeration. “I have to confess now that it was only 57ft but it was up hill with a double break, it certainly was a highlight in my sporting career. At the finals in Monkstown we beat Strandhill comfortably in the semi-final but lost to a very good Clontarf side in the final. Bitter-sweet would sum up my memory when I think back.” All of the focus now is on the team of 2016 as they look for two wins on Friday and Saturday.
Muskerry have been busy too, preparing for their Jimmy Bruen Shield semi-final. Given that Bruen himself represented Muskerry for many years, Muskerry Captain Tom Purcell is delighted that the club is still involved at the final stages of the competition. “The Jimmy Bruen Shield has always had a special significance for Muskerry given its connection with Jimmy Bruen” said Purcell. “The Club won its first Munster Pennant in Jimmy Bruen in 1998 and eventually made the breakthrough in winning its first All-Ireland pennant in 2007 in Shandon Park in our Centenary Year.” Although that’s nine years ago, there are still strong links as Tom Purcell explained: “Paul Herlihy played in the final in 2007 and is a key part of this year’s team. Both myself and the Team Captain, Sean Cronin were also part of the winning team in 2007. This year’s team has a great mix of experienced campaigners, three great juveniles and four new members. Their run of exciting matches has really captured the interest of all Club members leading to great support at all their matches and we do expect a large number of members to travel and support the team on the Friday, and hopefully on the Saturday also.”
Like Monkstown, Muskerry too face a big cost in getting the team ready for Carton House. “There is a significant cost in having a panel of this size competing in the All Ireland finals” said the Muskerry Captain, “but the Club members and local businesses have been incredibly supportive of our fund raising events and deserve a special thanks from the Club. The players are also aware of the cost implications and have already travelled to play Carton House a number of times at their own cost. The panel have been spending as much time as possible practising, both in Muskerry and Carton House, and have been put through their paces at a number of “closed” sessions with Munster Coach Fred Twomey.” This year Muskerry have strengthened the link with Bruen. A new Jimmy Bruen Corner has been opened in the clubhouse to remember his great achievements and the club also launched a Bruen Open Week in August. “We had a very successful Bruen Open Week which ended with a BBQ in the Club attended by most of the Bruen Family” added Purcell. “Mrs Nell Bruen has “adopted” the team as her own and will be anxiously awaiting the result on Friday and Saturday. She has already promised to present the medals to the winning panel when they return to Muskerry GC in a repeat of the presentation she did for the winning panel in 2007!” Monkstown will have an early start on Friday morning, they are out at 8am against Co Sligo in the AIG Senior Cup. Muskerry will see their first match at underway at 12.30 when they take on Cill Dara. All matches take place on the O’Meara Course at Carton House.
Three Cork referees on duty at Carton House
Three Cork referees are on duty in Carton House this week as the showpiece venue hosts the AIG Cups and Shields National Finals. Barry Lynch (Raffeen Creek), Tom Donnolly (Youghal) and Munster Match and Handicap Secretary Liam Harkin (Muskerry) will all be on duty, providing support as on-course referees, starters and tournament controllers. All three are members of the GUI national Championship Committee and have had a long summer of events at both local and national level. The commitment can’t be underestimated with events taking place every week during the summer months, and over twenty events alone in the county of Cork. All three referees have plenty of experience in running tournaments and they have all achieved the Level 3 designation from the R&A in St Andrews which is the highest level available. As well as the provincial and national duties, the three gentlemen have other responsibilities, Liam Harkin sits on the SSS & Handicapping committee and the national fixtures committee Tom Donnelly and Barry Lynch are also on the national committee for the Rules of Golf and Amateur Status, and Barry also heads up the course rating project in Munster.
This week Carton House plays host to the finals of Europe’s biggest amateur golf competition. The Cups and Shields cover five different playing categories and all five competitions are open to every GUI affiliated club in the country. Starting with regional and area matches, the Cups and Shields build up to provincial finals in August and the national finals in September. While a nomination to officiate at the national finals in a great honour for the referees, it’s on the back of a busy season within the province. There’s a substantial workload in place for the referees and tournament directors over the course of the season in Munster. With over 20 championship and inter-club events taking place from February to September, a quick estimate of the Munster Branch events means that the Munster referees cover up to 75 venues, and an equivalent of over 170 referee days. While golf is generally self-managed on the course, referees are on duty and available for all Munster events. The scheduling, planning an organising is the joint responsibility of the Munster Match Secretary Liam Harkin and the Munster Golf’s Executive Officer Karen Walsh and Junior Golf Administrator Margaret Sugrue. On course events are generally managed by the 21 members and officers of the Munster Golf Provincial Council, with support at times from other qualified referees. Although there is only one event left on the Munster Golf calendar for 2016 (Munster Veterans next week), already the dates and venues for the 2017 season are almost complete, signalling the work that takes place all year around.