Kanturk’s Mairead Martin has been hitting the headlines for two years on the golf course, and she’ll be one to watch in 2018 as she play’s what’s likely to be her final full season in Ireland for a few years. The Leaving Cert student is hoping to take up a US college scholarship next year and will be working hard to make another impression. She spent most of the season playing off +1 and had a number of wins and great team performances for club and country. Just six years after first playing golf, Mairead is in the top echelons of the sport. Now the season has ended, Mairead can look back on another successful season. The big win of the year came in Mallow when Mairead claimed a national title. The Irish Girls close was a huge win, especially when it was played Mallow. There was no let up as Mairead went on to win again at her next event. She followed the Irish Girls Close title with a second Leinster Women’s title just one week later. Selection on the Irish Women’s team followed (despite being eligible for the Girls team), and she went on to play a crucial part when Ireland won the Women’s Home Internationals title in August.
Now the season is over, Mairead has been reflecting on a great year of golf. “My key memory from 2017 was winning the Irish Girls Close Championship in Mallow. It was so close to home and I had a lot of support and my sister on the bag. The biggest improvement I made in 2017 was I gained 30-40 yards off the tee, which made holes a lot shorter. It’s down to the work I have done with my coach Mark Heinemann and my S&C coach Luke Dennehy.” But that’s not the only support that Mairead receives and she has leveraged the maximum amount from the team that she works with. “The work I’ve done with all the ILGU coaches, and being a part of the high performance squads have really allowed me improve my game” said Mairead. “I did a lot of work with my coach on all parts of my game last winter trying to get more consistent which has helped a lot. My physio Ailish Mulcahy has been a key in me being able to play injury free since I started in 2011. I’m working hard on my strength and conditioning this winter, as well as improving my putting, short game and long game to become more consistent and prepare for my move to University in America in August.” Mairead is currently planning to head to the University of Louisville in Kentucky next year. Having looked at many options for college, she accepted a scholarship offer from the Cardinals on their golf programme.
Mairead started playing golf just six years ago when she was 11. That was in Killarney where there were a large group of girls starting out. The Kanturk girl took to the game quickly, and was soon playing in both Killarney and Kanturk. The link with Killarney is still strong and this year she won and Irish Senior Cup, helping the famous Kerry club to another national team title. Having secured club and national honours this year, Mairead was presented with honorary life membership in October. This was a great honour for the teenager but one that was very well deserved. She received a similar honour in Kanturk in 2016. Mairead still lives in Kanturk and goes to school there, and she’s very grateful for the ongoing support from her local club. “All the members in Kanturk have been really great to me and continue to encourage me in my golfing career. Kanturk and Killarney have been very generous in giving me honorary lifetime membership which is a big honour.” Mairead is one of a new generation of Cork girls who have reached the top of the sport while still teenagers. Mitchelstown’s Valerie Clancy, Cork’s Rachel Thompson and Sara Byrne from Douglas have all featured on provincial and national teams this year and they were also part of the ILGU high performance training panels. Traditionally US college scholarships were heavily weighted towards boys but in recent years there have been several girls who have gone to the US. Lisa Maguire and her sister Leona who is world amateur number one, and well as LPGA Tour member Stephanie Meadows have all improved while working in the US college golf system. University of Louisville already has a number of Irish golfers on its men’s golf programme. Devin Morley is in his second year in Kentucky while Hugh O’Hare and Kinsale’s John Murphy are in their freshman year. Douglas native Aaron O’Callaghan is associate Head Coach to the men’s team, and while the women’s and men’s teams run separate programmes it should be a benefit for Mairead to have several Irish golfers on campus with her. As an elite golfer, Mairead is already setting her sights on next year:
“My goal for 2018 is to improve all aspects of my game, get as physically strong as I can and be well prepared for every tournament I play. Yes I’m still as interested, I love playing in competitions and seeing little improvements and trying to get better everyday. I’m very excited about the opportunities that this great game offers me and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.”