THE late Finbarr O’Donovan was a stalwart member of Collins pitch and putt club for four decades.
Known to some as ‘Rocky’, Finbarr was an enthusiastic supporter of the sport and a thorough gentleman, and his passing has caused great sadness on Leeside.
Deepest sympathy is extended to Finbarr’s wife Patsy, daughters Linda and Caroline, son Chris along with Finbarr’s extended family and many friends.
A constant face in the galleries at the major events, Finbarr had a word and a smile for everybody.
His cheerful persona won him many friends across the Pitch and Putt circuit, up and down the country. He and his great pal Micksie Lyons from St Anne’s were the life and soul of every party.
A shrewd observer and proud father-in-law, Finbarr invested some money on Ray Murphy at 10-1 in the millennium National Strokeplay at Lakeside and came away with a handsome profit!
That’s just one example of his astute judgement of the Pitch and Putt circuit.
Twice a qualifier, at Lakeside in 2000 and at ESB two years later, for the final round of the 54 hole National Gent’s Strokeplay championship, Finbarr O' Donovan joined his wife Patsy and the Downeys, Bill and Phil, in the Collins E side that captured the Cork Mixed Team Event at ESB in 2000.
Finbarr O'Donovan was the 2000 Cork Intermediate Strokeplay champion. In May 2000 at Collins, Finbarr fired 96 to beat fellow Collins man Brendan Meade by a single stroke. Finbarr and Brendan Meade helped Collins to en eighteen stroke win over ESB in the parallel team event.
Collins (Finbarr joining Niall Lenihan, Ed Aherne, Ger Gibson and Michael O'Donovan) were team runners-up in the 2004 Cork Intermediate Gent's Strokeplay championship at Majestic (Mallow).
Finbarr and Patsy finished fourth in the Cork Examiner Munster Mixed Foursomes of 1995 at Fermoy. Their 86 nett tied for second place but was edged out on the second eighteen tiebreaker.
Finbarr also enjoyed his international Pitch and Putt trips abroad. He contested the inaugural Dutch Open at Arnhem in 2004, which was won in a play-off by son-in-law Ray Murphy.
Having contested the inaugural National Over 55s Strokeplay championship at Clare Road (Ennis) in 2004, Finbarr O'Donovan scored 106 at Deerpark to finish runner-up to Mick Sullivan (Erry) in the 2006 All-Ireland Gents’ Over 55 Intermediate Grade Strokeplay Championship.
Finbarr captained Collins to the Cork Junior League in 1995 and also played on the Collins side that finished runners-up to ESB in 1998.
After winning Cork Intermediate League medals with Collins in 2001 and 2002, Finbarr was team captain in 2004 when the Collins men clinched the four-in-a-row, equalling the Collins four-timer previously achieved between 1980 and 1983. Finbarr also played on the Collins teams that lost the 1986 and 2006 finals.
Finbarr’s colleagues in that history-making 2004 team were Ed Desmond, Jason Roche, Pat Herbert, Eoin Walsh, Trevor Ahern, Ger Gibson and Mick O'Donovan.
2005 proved to be an outstanding year for Finbarr and daughter Linda in Mixed Foursomes play. In the Cork Mixed Foursomes at Collins, Linda and Finbarr fired +14 to win by five strokes from Ann and Pat Fallon of Inniscarra.
At ESB in the Munster Mixed Foursomes, a return of +13 secured top spot for Linda and Finbarr, one clear of County Clare couple Martina Rynne and Billy Griffin.
A keen soccer player in his youth, Finbarr played with pitch and putt luminaries such as Liam O’Brien (Douglas) and Billy Buckley (ESB). He would later act as best man at Billy’s wedding.
No mean card player and a lover of a bet, Finbarr lived life to the full and positively impacted the lives of many over the years.
Resident as he was close to the Collins course, Finbarr served the club in every way imaginable. He held some official titles over the years but he was forever lending a hand here, whispering a few wise words of advice there and overall, serving as an inspiring mentor to many.
Club juvenile officer in the 1980s, Finbarr inspired his young charges to victory in the Cork County League of 1983, beating Douglas in the final at St Stephen’s.
Collins' club captain in 2001, Finbarr was the greenkeeper for many years, constantly presenting the course in top-class condition for the members and for competitions.