Cork Golf: Monkstown's Jim Long has a key role to play at national level

'Other Cork members of the regional executive include Marion Pattendon, Phil Cooney, Mary Bergin and David Prendergast, while Raffeen Creek’s Barry Lynch was nominated for the board of Golf Ireland'
Cork Golf: Monkstown's Jim Long has a key role to play at national level

Munster Seniors winner John O'Brien (Castlemartyr) with Jim Long, Chairman Golf Ireland Munster Regional Executive Committee. Picture: Niall O'Shea

2021 marked a big change in the administration of golf in Ireland.

For the previous 125 years, golf had been run by the GUI for men and the ILGU for Ladies.

Following a long process between the two bodies, Golf Ireland came into being in January 2022 with responsibility for championships, inter-club events and handicapping.

On the course, it was a slow start to the year with golf courses closed for the first four months of the year.

With Covid restrictions in place at some level for all of the year, Golf Ireland managed to pull off a huge feat in scheduling and completing a full national and regional schedule.

The season only got underway in June and it was a huge achievement considering it was the first year that women's and men's events were managed by the new governing body.

Nationally they ran 147 events and championships and awarded 166 trophies. Events ran over 156 days during the season and those events were supported by over 600 volunteers.

In its first year, Golf Ireland has also been a strong advocate of juniors, ladies golf and inclusive golf.

The familiar ladies get into golf programme there was also a Women in Golf Leadership programme and R&A Women in Golf Charter.

They also supported inclusion and disability, and that was seen in the Flogas Irish Amateur Open when a golfer was permitted to use a buggy and caddy due to a disability.

England’s Kip Popert competed under the R&A’s Modified Rules and finished in 15th place.

One Golf Ireland change did come in for some criticism during the year.

The new regional zone structure meant that Munster was now split into two zones and that meant for the first time in decades there was no traditional Munster finals in the women’s or men’s interclub events.

Each zone winner did receive a pennant at the national finals but it was still a change when there wasn’t a Munster champion. On the national stage, Berehaven won the 2020 AIG Jimmy Bruen Shield – although they did have to wait until June 2021 to win.

In the 2021 events, there was little enough in the way of success for Cork clubs. Doneraile was the only club to take home national honours, they won the All-Ireland Mixed Foursomes in Standhill.

It was an exciting trip to Sligo for the club, the match was settled on the 19th hole when James O’Mahony and Aoibheann Daly won their match against Rockmount.

Jim Long served as Chairman of the Munster Regional Executive in 2021, the first year of the new amalgamated structure.

Long had previously served as the Chairman of the Munster Branch of the GUI, and prior to that he had served in many golfing and administrative roles.

The Monkstown member is set for another move on 2022 as it’s likely he’ll be elected as the President-Elect of Golf Ireland.

Monkstown's Jim Long was elected Chairman of Golf Ireland's Munster Regional Executive in 2021. Picture: Niall O'Shea
Monkstown's Jim Long was elected Chairman of Golf Ireland's Munster Regional Executive in 2021. Picture: Niall O'Shea

The post should see him move into the role of President for 2023.

Other Cork members of the newly formed regional executive include Marion Pattendon, Phil Cooney, Mary Bergin and David Prendergast, while Raffeen Creek’s Barry Lynch was nominated for the board of Golf Ireland.

Bandon’s John Carroll was in his final year as the Irish Senior Men's Captain, and he made it a memorable one, winning the Home Internationals at Hankley Common in Surrey.

Ireland had finished in the runners-up spot in 2019 and with no tournament held in 2020 this was Carroll’s last chance to capture the title. Wins against Scotland and Wales set Ireland up for a winner takes all match against England, and while Ireland came off on the wrong side of the morning foursomes the team regrouped for the afternoon singles.

Ireland secured a draw and won the title on matches won. There was more Cork involvement as Peter O’Keeffe was a member of the winning team. O’Keeffe also hit the headlines, winning the Bridgestone Men's Order of Merit.

That win was driven by his double success in the Flogas Irish Amateur Open and the AIG Irish Close. O’Keeffe was the first golfer in over 20 years to do the domestic double, Padraig Harrington was the last golfer to do it in 1995.

In November Golf Ireland announced their underage high performance and development squads for 2022 and from the 100 golfers selected ten came from Cork clubs.

James Walsh from Douglas was selected on the Boys U18 high-performance squad while John Doyle (Fota Island) and Sean Reddy (Douglas) made the U16 squad.

A number of regional performance development squads were also put in place. Eoghan Cassidy (Kinsale), Sean Deasy (Douglas), Sean Healy (Kinsale), Matthew Kelleher (Fota Island), Ryan Lyons (Blarney) and Paddy Quill (Cork) all made the U17 squad while Barry O’Connell (Douglas) was selected on the U15 squad.

A further 34 golfers were selected for the area development panels which cover boys and girls from U12 to U16. Cork has two representatives on the senior high-performance squads, Florida-based Sara Byrne was selected on the women’s team while Peter O’Keeffe retained his place on the men’s selection.

2022 promises to be another action-packed year for Golf Ireland.

The highlights for Cork are the return of the Munster Stroke Play to the traditional May weekend date and Douglas will host the Irish Senior Men's Championship later that month.

Fermoy will host the Munster Bous U18 while Blarney will host Munster Girls U19 inter-club.

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