Inspirational O’Reilly leads Heath Golf Club to victory
Allianz Irish Times Officers’ Challenge at Galway Bay Golf Resort
Philip Reid, Irish Times, Emlyn O’Reilly, Heath Golf Club president, Noirin Gohery, lady captain Galway Bay Golf Resort, Siobhán Bergin Corri, lady captain of The Heath, Paul O’Callahan, captain The Heath and Sean McGrath, CEO, Allianz. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy.
In all of the years of this Allianz Irish Times Officers’ Challenge, few feats – if any – matched the remarkable run of pars by a remarkable man in this latest qualifier at Galway Bay Golf Resort as Emlyn O’Reilly, who is legally blind, contrived to inspire The Heath to a fine victory, some seven points clear of their nearest challengers.
O’Reilly’s life story is one that showcases his resilience and fortitude. Twenty years ago he suffered third-degree burns in an apartment fire and spent many months recovering in hospital, and in the following years battled with depression and alcohol dependency before using golf as part of a pathway back towards recovery.
And, in his time playing the game at The Heath, O’Reilly has claimed both president and captain prizes inside the past decade.
On this occasion, O’Reilly was accompanied by lady captain Siobhán Bergin Corri and men’s captain Paul O’Callahan in representing the club in this hugely popular club competition (best two of three scores counting) at the fine bayside course near Oranmore where their winning total of 82 points secured a place in next month’s national final at The K Club.
O’Reilly’s contribution was nothing short of spectacular, as the 10-handicapper opened with seven straight pars to set them on their way. The Heath started on the 10th tee, where both O’Reilly and O’Callahan opened with pars, while Bergin Corri – who first took up the sport when working in HR in Zimbabwe – also contributed, coming in on the scorecard on seven occasions including a nett birdie on the difficult 17th.
While The Heath were runaway winners of this final qualifier, the two other successful qualifiers – Gort and Limerick – stuck gallantly to the task of also ensuring the would make it to The K Club.
On a day which couldn’t make up its mind, one minute sunny and the next offering downpours from the heavens, Gort’s trio of Ronnie Killeen, Róisín Walsh and Paddy Coghlan, came home with 75 points to secure the runner-up spot with Limerick’s three-player team of Brien Morris, Audrey Fitzgerald and Ger O’Donoghue accumulating 73 points to secure third spot.
Peter Kilcullen of Allianz congratulated all of the players – with clubs represented by men and lady captains, as well as one other serving official – on their year in office and commended the greenstaff at Galway Bay for presenting the course in such fabulous condition.
The national final will take place at The K Club on September 3rd, where the other qualifiers – from events held at Portmarnock Links, Cork, Malone and Mount Juliet – will join The Heath, Gort and Limerick to decide the overall winners.
82 pts - The Heath (Paul O’Callahan (22), Siobhan Bergin Corri (33), Emlyn O’Reilly (10))
75 pts - Gort (Ronnie Killeen (21), Róisín Walsh (22), Paddy Coghlan (13))
73 pts - Limerick (Brien Morris (12), Audrey Fitzgerald (25), Ger O’Donoghue (23))