Cork is set for a new inter-varsity competition with an innovative winter series starting this week which will see UCC and CIT students do battle over a five round league for the first time. UCC’s Cian Kidney and CIT’s Dave O’Sullivan have come together to get competitive varsity golf back on the agenda for golfers attending Cork’s two leading colleges. While both institutions have long and proud histories in many sporting codes, golf has been somewhat of a poor relation in recent years in terms of competitive golf. Maynooth University have been leading varsity golf in Ireland with their Harrington Scholars golf programme, but the Cork colleges have taken the first step to building a competitive intervarsity programme. Cian Kidney is the Captain of the UCC Golf Club and he has collaborated with the UCC PGA coach Fred Twomey and his counterpart in Cork IT to get the new competition off the ground. “Myself and Dave O’Sullivan [Cork IT GC Captain] along with the help of Fred Twomey decided to set up this tournament for a few reasons” explained Kidney. “Firstly due to the Varsity matchplay series being reduced down to a 9 hole foursomes tournament this year we felt it would be better to have our players playing more competitively throughout the college year. Currently in UCC we have two large Panels, an ‘Elite’ and ‘A’ panel. They are mainly separated by handicap ranges. The elite panel ranges from +1 to 5, and the A ranges from 5 up to 21. Out of our 20 active players, 18 have single digit handicap’s. CIT have a similar amount of players active in similar handicap ranges so we were able to match up handicaps for a competitive league format.”
Setting up the league was a challenge as budgets for both clubs had been set out at the start of the college year, but Kidney and O’Sullivan have secured four of the five venues needed to run their league. Cork, Monkstown, Muskerry and Lee Valley have all been confirmed as host venues, and the plan is coming together nicely according to Cian: “Thanks to the generosity of the clubs around Cork that we have contacted, they have offered to host our League as to help promote college golf in Cork. The final round of the League is to be hosted in Lee Valley on April 2nd with a presentation and meal after the round.” In addition to this Cian Kidney has worked with UCC Coach Fred Twomey to try and develop to sport within College and the pair are driving their new plans to try and narrow the growing gap between UCC and the likes of UCD and Maynooth University. “Myself and Fred and others believe Cork can be a hub of Irish golf” said the Captain. “Between the talent that is coming out of the county and also with the facilities and courses available around the county. But in order to achieve all of this we are trying to set up a template going forward in order to grow the club in UCC. I am currently working on this and hope to have a finished template in April to start with going forward in September 2017.” One of Ireland’s most accomplished teaching professionals, Fred Twomey has been central to developing several coaching and development frameworks for youth and adult golf. Twomey has been working with Cian’s father Declan Kidney who is the current Director of Sport in UCC. As well as access to coaching from Fred, the club members have also benefitted from physical screenings from Peter O’Keeffe and Mark O’Connell from O’Keeffe Golf Fitness.
Like all good student groups, the golf club also has their eye on supporting a much loved UCC charity as the Lee Valley golfer explained: “We have also been working hard with the Surgeon Noonan Society in UCC in organising a golf Classic to be played at the end of March. This classic is in order for us to raise funds for some great causes and once the date and venue is to be confirmed we hope to seek tee box and prizes sponsorship as well as plenty of teams taking part.”