THE opening three competitions of this year’s North-Western Alliance had been bestowed with good golfing weather but Saturday at Narin & Portnoo the winter bared its teeth.
The incessant rain stopped briefly on occasionis as if to draw breath before pouring down even heavier than before! But the Alliance members are a hardy bunch and they braved the elements accepting that these are the kind of conditions they signed up for in August. In those circumstances the scoring was good, a tribute to greens in excellent condition.
Last time out the gross scoring was excellent and all six places were evenly contested. This time it was the nett section that saw the closest battles.
While the winner, Connor McGettigan, recorded an admirable 35 points, the next four placing’s were decided on a break of tie for those on 34 points.
After nine holes Stephen Harris was setting the pace with a great 20 points. He was being pursued by Eddie McHugh on 19 and three other competitors were on 18 - Gerry Irwin, Maurice McGettigan and Eamonn O’Carroll.
Standing on the 12th tee the leaders were Eamonn and Stephen both on 24 points and Eddie McHugh was going well with 23. However, this was all to change as Stephen blanked the next two holes and Eamonn scored single points for the next three.
With just three holes to play new names were on the scene Gerry Irwin holding the lead on 31 points, Eamonn had recovered somewhat to be on 30, Maurice McGettigan on 29 was Eddie McHugh 28 as was Odran McGettigan. David Forbes had improved to 27, while our eventual winner, McGettigan was also on 27.
McGettigan returned eight points for the last three holes’; Forbes returned 7, with McGettigan on six while McHugh had five while Irwin saw his chance of taking top position evaporate as he recorded just one point.
Meanwhile, in the Gross Section it was the usual suspects who topped the leader-board after nine holes. Michael McGeady was in pole position with a 2 under 33; Enda Kennedy was level par on 35 J. P.Dolan and Brian McElhinney on 36 with John G. McBride was on 37.
At the 10th John P. “moved off the radar” while John G. Followed him at the 15th. With four holes to play Michael was still 2 under, Enda still level and Brian still on one over.
At the 15th, a par five, McGeady parred while Kennedy dropped a stroke and Brian dropped two strokes to par. On the par three 16th, Kennedy returned a very ugly double bogey; McGeady and McElhinney carded pars before McGeady double bogied the 17th as Kennedy dropped strokes on the last two holes while McElhinney parred his way home.
In the end, McGeady took top honours by two clear shots from McElhinney who finished three ahead of Kennedy.
In the Nett Category in the “Golfer of the Year,” there has been a change at the top with Odran McGettigan, last year’s winner, moving into the driving seat with 17 points, one clear of J. P. Dolan.
In the Gross Caegory, Brian McElhinney increased his lead to 35 with Enda Kennedy is on 30 and Michael McGeady third on 26.
All those associated with the Alliance wish Michael McGeady the best of good fortune as he competes next week from November 13th to 15th on the Marquess course at Woburn Golf Club in the Euro Pro tour finale. He is currently in 14th place in the order of merit and is the leading Irish player.
The next outing of the Alliance will take place on November 17th on the Old Tom Morris course at Rosapenna.
Full results - Outing to Narin & Portnoo - Nett Section - 1, Connor McGettigan (14), Letterkenny. 35 points; 2, break of tie, David Forbes (7). Faughan Valley, 34; 3, Odran McGettigan (25), Strabane, 34; 4, Eddie McHugh (13), Strabane, 34; 5, Gerry Irwin (11), Faughan Valley, 34; 6, break of tie, Pat Corry (10), Strabane,33.
Gross Section - 1, Michael McGeady (scr), McCambridge-Duffy, 73; 2, Brian McElhinney (scr), Foyle Golf Academy, 75; 3, Enda Kennedy (+1), Rosapenna, 78; 4, Sean Quigg (1), City of Derry, 79; 5, Garrett Mallon (1), North-West, 81; 6, Cathal Patton (5), Strabane, 82.
The following players carded “twos,” E. O’Carroll, C. McGettigan, J. P. Dolan, C. Patton, M. Feeney, N. Sheafer and G. Mallon.
Last Tuesday’s Open “Meal Deal” at North-West was won by Stephen MacLochlainn (9) with a fine score of 40 points. Stephen played some fine golf especially on his back nine where two birdies at the 10th and 16th helped him seal victory by three points from visitor, Lee Mooney.
And in last Saturday’s Christmas Fare competition, John Spence (11) returned to the winners’ enclosure with a fine display of golf in cold wet conditions at Lisfannon with 39 points.
Full results were - Christmas Fare - 1, John Spence (11) 39 points; 2, Andrew Walker (17) 38.
Last Wednesday’s Ladies competition, played over 11 holes, resulted in a fine score for Lady Captain Claire Cully with 24 points. The runner up was Eileen Moyne with 21 pts.
Tomorrow’s competition will be a 13 holes stableford with a draw at 11.00 a.m.