McCreevy shows he is a natural leader

 

Yes Minister again. Charlie McCreevy, the Minister for Finance, has won his second captain's prize at Naas GC over the weekend. Rounds of 64 and 65 gave the 17 handicapper a total of 129 and a two-shot win over Ken Murray and Brendan Grehan who both finished on 131 with Murray winning on the second 18. McCreevy's first success was in 1996, the centenary year at the club. Mick Curtis (2) with rounds of 68 and 73 won the gross prize.

Balbriggan rule

Balbriggan will be the Leinster representatives when the All-Ireland finals of the Jimmy Bruen Shield are contested at Newlands golf club in September. In the Leinster finals at Sutton golf club last weekend, Balbriggan edged out Dublin rivals Castle 3.5-1.5 in a closely fought final that was decided on the 18th green where Dave Brabazon and Peter Sullivan beat Harry Gleeson and his 14-year-old partner Dara Lernihan.

Freddie Healy and Pat Boshell gave Balbriggan the perfect start with a 3 and 2 win over Peadar Walsh and Michael Wilson; and they were followed by Tom Dwyer and Damien Lenagh who beat Liam Reynolds and Dermot O'Beirne on the 17th. Omar Bhamsee and Ross Kinsella kept the Castle hopes alive with a one-hole win over Brian Cannoand Peter Slevin.

However, Brabazon and Sullivan made sure of the vital third point with the top match between Ray Nugent and John O'Shea and the Castle pair Martin Wilson and Brian Gleeson being halved. In the semi-finals, Balbriggan beat Callan 4-1 while a one-hole win for Martin Wilson and Brian Gleeson gave the Castle a 3-2 win over Hermitage.

A royal battle

It took 12 extra holes to decide the outcome of the men's senior matchplay final when six Leinster Pitch and Putt championships were decided in the beautiful surroundings of Castletown, Co Meath last week. In a battle royal between Derek Courtney (Glenville) and Royal Meath's Colin Somers, the Meathman had to settle for the runners-up spot again having been beaten into second place in the strokeplay at Kilbeggan earlier in the season. The women's senior final brought together Anne Hall (Royal Meath) who has been runner-up in both National championships this season and the 2000 National Strokeplay champion, Marina O'Rourke of the Cloghogue club in Newry with Hall winning the title on the final green.

Meanwhile, at Cunnigar in Dungarvan, John Carroll won the Munster Matchplay championship when beating Derry McCarthy (Deerpark) 3 and 2 in the final while Lily Carroll (Lakewood) took the women's crown when edging out Claire Murphy (ESB) in the final.

Distinguished days

What a weekend it has turned out to be for the Competitions' Secretary at Ashbourne golf club. Helen McDonnell has just enjoyed a most memorable couple of days when she really hit top form. It all began on Saturday when she was competing in the Lady Captain's Prize. And in a competition which produced some great scores, McDonnell shot a nett 64 for a one-shot victory over 32-handicapper Una Weir.

And continuing the hot scoring, third prize went to Dolores Beggan (23), who also shot 65, while the gross prize went to Dawn Marie Conaty (98) with 78.

McDonnell's tremendous score in the Lady Captain's prize saw her handicap drop by three shots, from 26 to 23, but it in no way halted her progress. And the very next day she was once again on top form, this time clocking up 46 points in the opening day's play for the President's Prize.

Although a hugely impressive total, it wasn't good enough to be the leading qualifier. That honour went to 32-handicapper Maria Frawley who beat McDonnell's 46 points total by one in shooting 47. Yet still, it will be a couple of days of golf that McDonnell will remember for many a long day.

Serial record-breaker

A real record-breaker. . . . that is what they will have to call MP O'Brien at Charlesland golf club. Over the past six weeks the Club's Junior Captain has been re-writing the record books of the County Wicklow golf course. Amazingly, in that short period of time he has beaten the course-record at Charlesland on an incredible three occasions.

O'Brien's record-breaking run began in early June when he lowered the record by one stroke to 71. Not satisfied with that, three weeks later he shot a 70 to bring the record down even further. But then last Saturday, the two-handicapper went even better. Competing in the monthly medal, he shot 68 to complete his remarkable treble of course records.

In what was a hugely impressive round, he was out in 31 and on the much tougher back nine he shot a one over, 37. Amazingly, he had two bogeys at the index 15 and index 17 holes, so one just wonders is there more in the locker for the two handicapper. One thing is for sure, he's been keeping the framer of the course record scores very busy.

The right results

What an emotional day it was for June Skelton at St Anne's recently as she claimed victory in the Lady Captain's Prize with a score of 67. Not only was her score good enough to claim the prize, but she then collected a financial bonus, after backing American David Duval to win the British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

June recently lost her husband Leslie - who was well known in golfing circles around Ireland - and the day she won the Captain's Prize was their 40th Wedding Anniversary.

Celebrity challenge

Personalities from a wide range of sporting organisations will converge on Royal Tara golf club on Friday, August 10th for a Charity Sports-Am competition in aid of the Daraine Mulvihill and Meath Women's Refuge. Among those expected to take part in the four person team event are Packie Bonner, Johnny Murtagh, Charlie Redmond, Keith Wood, Colm O'Rourke, Jim Glennon and Fergus Slattery.

The entry fee is £1,000 per team with two shot-gun starts at 9.0 a.m. and again at 2.0 p.m.

Some places are still available on the time sheets with Bob Deignan, 046-25244.