Heath on a roll to win worthy rumble


MUSGRAVE CRUMLIN HOSPITAL CLUB CHALLENGE:THE HEATH Golf Club claimed victory in the national final of the Musgrave Crumlin Children’s Hospital Club Challenge to transform a good year into a great one in Carvoeiro, Portugal.

The Portlaoise clubmen shook off the effects of their clandestine trips to a local karaoke club to follow up last month’s West Coast Challenge win with a 12-point victory over Connacht champions Bearna.

The final pitted the four provincial winners against each other at Palmares and the Oceanico Resort’s O’Connor Junior course in Amendoeira.

GUI president Fintan Buckley was present for the 15th year of the competition that has raised over €1.5 million for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin (OLCHC). The standard, on two testing courses, was typically high but at their third attempt The Heath were always out of the reach of their rivals.

John Fennell dominated the first day’s play. He scored a superb 42 points on the picturesque Palmares course, where the rough was unforgiving and the slick greens took many, Fennell included, until the turn to get the measure of.

Together with Joe Keenan’s 31, The Heath led Nenagh Golf Club (Munster) by nine at the end of play, with Concra Wood (Ulster) and Bearna a point further back.

“It was just one of those days,” said Fennell. “I got a few putts – 24 points (back nine) is a very good score. I turned with 18, which wasn’t too good, so I had to improve, or I would have got some stick off these two boys. They’re the ones that say they got me here, in the qualifying rounds.”

In the rumble format on the second day, JB Conroy’s three birdies on the front nine – the pick of the bunch at the par-three third – kept up the momentum, but it was on the way in, when all three cards counted from the 13th hole, that The Heath accelerated out of view. “The last four holes we really had good scoring, we probably won it from there,” said Keenan. “We had 78 points on the Christy O’Connor course, so we knew it would take over 90 to beat us, which on that course is very difficult to do.”

So it proved. The Heath totalled 151, for a comfortable margin of victory over Bearna (Tom Hillary, John Darby and Pat Ward), whose creditable 76 at the Oceanico Resort left them on 139 points, three ahead of Nenagh (Jim Whelehan, Mark O’Dwyer and Noel O’Dwyer) and eight ahead of Concra Wood (Noel Flanagan, Noel O’Reilly and Seán Mulligan), both clubs two-time winners.

Nenagh’s Seán Minogue, who registered a score of 71 points (35 and 36), softened the blow of a third-place finish for the Munster champions by securing the captain’s prize ahead of Concra’s Andy Whelan (65).

Bearna captain Brendan McLaughlin was third on 61, one ahead of The Heath vice-captain Kevin Woulfe.

Former Musgrave chief executive Séamus Scally (64) won the sponsor’s competition ahead of his colleague and competition co-coordinator Norma O’Sullivan (58), while Pat McNamara of Bearna came out on top of the retailer’s section with a total of 67 points, ahead of Dominic Kenna of Hermitage on 57.

The biggest winner was the Children’s Medical Research Foundation (CMRF), which raises funds for Crumlin Hospital, and is currently diverting the vast majority of those towards the redevelopment of the in-patient cancer and cardiac facilities, expected to cost over €8 million.

“Once again, Musgrave have pulled out all the stops to ensure that this year’s ‘Rumble for Crumlin’ was an outstanding success,” CMRF chief executive Joe Quinsey said of the weekend. “In the 15 years Musgrave have been sponsoring this wonderful event, €1.5 million has been raised for the benefit of sick children at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, through infrastructure improvements and investment in paediatric research.

“I cannot thank Musgrave enough for their wonderful support, which is inspired from the very top and permeates right the way through the organisation and their retail partners.” Musgrave chief executive Chris Martin reiterated the company’s dedication to the cause at the prize-giving dinner in the stunning surrounds of the Hotel Tivoli Carvoeiro.

The commitment was warmly welcomed and accompanied by call from the winners for more clubs to get involved in next year’s event.

“The whole set-up is brilliant,” said Conroy. “More teams around the country should enter their clubs into this, especially for the charity, because it’s well worth it.”

Entries are being accepted for the 2013 Musgrave Crumlin Hospital Club Challenge by email to the tournament coordinator Pat Cashman at litia@eircom.net

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