Nuremore claim win at Allianz Irish Times Officers’ Challenge

Shandon Park, Donabate and Greenore also earn place in August’s K Club final

A family of geese, a baker's dozen of them, wandered across the 18th fairway of Malone Golf Club blissfully unaware of what was going on around them. Their presence on the short grass was only a slight diversion for those players competing in the Allianz Irish Times Officers' Challenge on the classic parkland course on the outskirts of Belfast where the real test was to avoid the mature trees which define many holes.

As it happened, Nuremore Golf Club from Co Monaghan – consisting of captain Shane Cassidy, lady captain Mary Kerley and officer Cormac Lane – dove-tailed quite superbly to lead the way, claiming the qualifier with a fine total of 80 points that gave them a three points gap on the chasing trio of Shandon Park, Donabate and Greenore who all also earned places in the national final at The K Club in August.

With participating clubs from North and South involved in this third qualifying competition of the challenge, sponsored by Allianz for the 22nd year, Nuremore’s experience of inter-club competition was a significant benefit. Two of the team, Cassidy and Lane, were on Ulster-winning Pierce Purcell Shield teams, while golf clearly is important in the Kerley household: Mary’s son, Brian, is a professional.


Whilst Cassidy and Lane have performed in the cut-and-thrust of national inter-club competition, Kerley too showed her competitive instincts. The 26-handicapper, indeed, contributed hugely to the card with pars (nett birdies) on three of the four Par 3s while Cassidy’s chip-in for par on the second hole and Lane’s 10-footer for birdie on the 17th along with generally solid play ensured their victory and another blue pennant to adorn the walls of the Nuremore clubhouse.


The mature trees around this wonderfully conditioned parkland course presented a real challenge. The sweet sound of ball hitting metal from the tee was frequently accompanied by the not-so-sweet sound of ball hitting timber, for any wayward tee-shots would likely strike beech or ash or chestnut or fir. The closing holes – especially the beautiful Par 3 15th and the finishing 18th – had the added hazard of the large trout lake very much in play.

Shandon Park's trio of captain Ian Hanna (14), lady captain Dianne Conway (11) and honorary secretary Lyle Carson (13) played very solidly to record 77 points and also secure of the four spots on offer for the national final at The K Club on August 28th.

“It was a really good team effort,” said Conway of their performance, which featured a couple of six pointers – on the ninth and 12th – with the capacity to avoid any disasters crucial in ensuring their progress.


Donabate's team of captain Geoffrey Woodhead (13), lady captain Margaret Maher (31) and president Pat McNeill (13) also compiled a fine score of 77 points. The highlight of the team's score was unquestionably Maher's pitch from 40 yards on the Par 3 sixth hole which obligingly found its way to the bottom of the tin cup for a birdie two.

For Greenore, the trip north was also productive with captain Gene Duffy (20), lady captain Patricia Brennan (19) and honorary secretary Dermot McGuinness (19) all playing solidly for the popular score of 77 points. Duffy's hole-out from a greenside bunker on the index one seventh hole gave his team real momentum, with seven points in total on that hole.

Peter Kilcullen, the Chief Customer Officer for Allianz, welcomed the participants and complimented Malone Golf Club director of golf Paddy Dean on the conditioning of the golf course and facilities offered to the visiting teams.

“I believe Malone is one of the finest and most welcoming golf clubs and, to all the captains, lady captains and honorary officers competing, I would like to extend my congratulations and thanks for your commitment to your clubs,” said Kilcullen.

The Malone qualifier was the third of the competition with previous qualifiers staged at Portmarnock Links and Cork Golf Club. Two remaining qualifying competitions will be played at Mount Juliet (July 25th) and Galway Bay (August 8th) with the 20 qualifying teams then competing in the national final at The K Club on August 28th.

Allianz Irish Times Officers’ Challenge

(Qualifier III at Malone Golf Club, Belfast)

80 pts – Nuremore: Shane Cassidy (12), Mary Kerley (26), Cormac Lane (12)

77 pts – Shandon Park: Ian Hanna (14), Dianne Conway (11), Lyle Carson (13); Donabate: Geoffrey Woodhead (13), Margaret Maher (31), Pat McNeill (13); Greenore: Eugene Duffy (20), Patricia Brennan (19), Dermot McGuinness (19)

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times