WHILE the people of Clara, in County Offaly, were hoping on Saturday evening for a Shane Lowry win in the British Open, Charleville Golf Club members were already celebrating a Munster win.
Nenagh Golf Club was where the north Cork team won their second Pierce Purcell Munster title. It was 13 years ago that Charleville last won Munster honours, and they also won the nationals that year. Maybe they can repeat that feat.
Charleville beat Douglas in their semi-final on Saturday morning. Charleville won the first three points, sending them through to the final, against Ballykisteen.
Charleville started strongly, with Michael Thompson and Ollie Kennelly, and Ger Mullane and John O’Keeffe, putting points on the board. Ballykisteen pegged them back, however, and, soon after, the match was level, at 2-2. That meant the final match would decide the winner.
Charleville’s Eamonn Leahy and Stephen Twomey had an advantage — they were one up playing the 17th — but both sides struggled on the long par four and the golfers sportingly agreed to a half, when both sides were left with a three-foot putt.
And so it was onto the 18th, with Charleville holding their one-hole advantage.
The north Cork side missed the fairway and it took them three shots to get onto the green.
Ballykisteen, on the other hand, were on the green in two and when they narrowly missed their birdie putt, Charleville had a chance to win it.
Twomey took his time over the putt, and when he struck the ball, it tracked all the way, until it dropped into the hole.
There were great scenes when the large number of players and supporters descended on the green to congratulate the winning pair. Charleville club captain, Ollie Kennelly, was on the team: he partnered Michael Thompson and the pair led the way.
They were first out in both the semi-final and the final, and in both matches they put the first point on the board. Kennelly was a busy man on Saturday: as well as playing, he had the honour of accepting the pennant from team manager, Anthony Fitzgerald.
“It’s a huge honour and a privilege to win it. It means a lot to us: we don’t get to this stage very often, so it’s a great result for a club like Charleville,” said the proud captain.
Managing teams is a big responsibility for any club committee, but Charleville have been rewarded. Ollie Kennelly acknowledged the work that has gone into the teams.
“We put as much effort as we can into the teams, but as a club with a total membership of under 500 members, it takes a lot of effort. Everyone in the club is committed to the teams.
“We hosted the qualifier in Charleville and we beat Adare Manor, Limerick, and Ballyneety in the venue final. We progressed on to beat Lahinch, in Woodstock, in the area final, to qualify for Nenagh.”
A trip to Westport, for the national finals, is now on the cards for the north Cork club and Kennelly appreciates what it means.
“It’s a huge boost to a club like Charleville. We don’t get to this stage too often, so it’s a great boost for all of the members to have successful teams. Our mixed foursomes team are through to the Munster finals, as well, we’re playing in Castletroy in August, and we’re hoping they’ll get through that, too.”
In 2006, when they won the Pierce Purcell Shield Munster final, they went on to claim national honours. Hopes are high that history will repeat itself in September.
Bandon were also action in Nenagh on Saturday. They were hoping to build on local form to win at provincial level in the Jimmy Bruen Shield. They had a tough test in the semi-final, against Killarney, when three matches needed additional holes. Michael O’Dell and Kevin Brophy won on the 19th, but Derek O’Driscoll and David Kelly lost on the 19th.
With the score at 2-2, it went down to Michael O’Neill and Martin Dunlea and they obliged with a win on the 20th. In the final, they faced hosts Nenagh, and this proved a step too far.
The home side got ahead early and never let up. They won the first three matches to claim the provincial title at Bandon’s expense.