Fabulous first for Courtown Golf Club
COURTOWN GOLF Club achieved its first All-Ireland title recently in Knightsbrook in the I.L.G.U. Junior foursomes final.
Despite attending national inter-club finals in the past, Courtown had been unsuccessful in previous attempts to win a green pennant.
On the Friday they had overcome Ballina in a nail-biting semi-final. With one match in the bag when Mary Kilbride and Stella Courtney won on the 15th, the final pairing of Eileen Cullen and Mairéad Sunderland were forced to go down the 19th, having finished all flat after 18 holes.
Much to the delight of the Courtown contingent, a place in the final was secured.
It was an especially emotional week for Eileen Cullen, who missed the District finals due to the death of her husband, Michael, just the night before, but team manager Laura Funge was insistent that he was keeping an eye on Eileen and the team at Knightsbrook.
‘Our match in the District final went to the 22nd hole and there is no doubt that Michael put us through,’ she said.
‘The whole team played for Eileen that day and it is great that we have her on the team this week.’
Fast forward to Saturday and the All-Ireland final. Courtown had high hopes of ending their long wait for a national title and they were not to be denied an All-Ireland victory after an historic 2.5 to 0.5 win over Shandon Park.
Lady Captain Catherine Quinn and Mary Osborne put Courtown one-nil ahead with a 6&4 win, and with Stella Courtney and Mary Kilbride claiming a 4&3 win, Eileen Cullen and her partner, Mairéad Sunderland, were called in and the celebrations began.
Laura Funge was keen to point out that while a particular six played on the day, the victory would not have been achieved without the help of a dedicated panel of substitutes who had stepped in when needed.
These were Mairéad Carty, Kate Sheehan, Julie McCartan, Pat Walters and Ann Bernie.
The team would also like to thank in a special way all the supporters who travelled to support them both at the District finals in Tullamore and at the finals in Knightsbrook.
‘This is a wonderful day for Courtown Golf Club,’ Laura said. ‘After 75 years we are here as All-Ireland champions and it’s a wonderful feeling.
‘I am so delighted for the players, the lady Captain, lady President, and the club. We will be holding a special event in the club on Friday, November 16, to mark the occasion and all club members, family and friends are welcome.’ THE NATIONAL dressage championships took place at Cavan Equestrian Centre recently.
With almost 270 entries and 574 tests ridden over three days, the committee did a sterling job to run this show so smoothly.
Classes were run from Junior trailblazers (Under-12) up to grand prix which is the highest level in dressage. Qualification was required for all classes which ran from shortly after the winter finals, held at the same venue in April, until September 9.
There’s been an influx of youngsters into dressage in recent years. Altogether, 42 trailblazer tests were judged, showing that this initiative has been a roaring success in attracting young riders into the sport.
The judging panel were comprised of international judges, some of whom also gave their time generously in an informal Q&A session on the Friday evening. Judges’ training ran concurrently to the nationals, with several Irishbased judges taking their exams to upgrade.
The 14-strong trailblazers Junior preliminary A (for Under-12s) was won by Youth Development Squad (Y.D.S.) member Oscar O’Connor riding his eleven-yearold gelding, Trefriw Pepsi, on 73.8%. This combination also took second in the Novice category on 72.08%.
The prelim. Cat. 3 class was dominated by the South East Rgion where they took first through to fifth places all on scores above 70%.
Rosemary Gaffney won on her nine-year-old Danish mare Werona (73.42%), with second and fifth places going to Y.D.S. founding member Rachel Dowley riding her five-year-olds, Insticator B.S. and Intrique Aimbry.
2016 and 2017 national champion, Anne Marie Dunphy, took third on her five-year-old gelding LEG Hugo, with Elaine Potter, riding her Womanizer gelding CLH Big Red, slotting into fourth.
Ten-year-old Oscar O’Connor won the Novice Category 1 class, riding his recently purchased eight-year-old Dutch pony Top Hero 2, on 73.3%.
Rosemary Gaffney was back in action to take the Cat. 3 title on her Painted Black-sired mare Werona.
U.K. bred Hartpury Sky Is The Limit, ridden by S.E.R. member Gabrielle Le Guay, won the Elementary Cat. 2 on 70.63%, with Hannah Fielding winning the Cat. 3 on her Fidertanz mare Florentina DWS on 73.2%.
The Advanced Medium was won by Y.D.S. graduate Sive Kearney and her 13-year-old German-bred gelding Rob Roy on 67.62%.
U.K.-based and list 1 judge Dane Rawlins and his nine-yearold Ehrenmann gelding Espoire took second place in both the Inter 2 and G.P. classes.
The five-year-old class was won by Rachel Dowley on the Florencio-sired gelding Insticator B.S., with a huge score of 85%. This combination also won the Novice Freestyle (F.S.) with a jaw-dropping performance of 83.06% - the top F.S. score of the championship.
Anne Marie Dunphy won the Grand Prix Kur on her 17-year-old Ronaldo-sired gelding Urbanus, with 70.6%, a personal best for this combination.
Para-equestrian classes were well supported with entries for grades 1 through to 5. Grade 3 was won by Kate Kerr-Horan on Serafina T with 70.6%.
Rosemary Gaffney took first and second place with Werona on 71.3% and 70.23% on her twelveyear-old Krac C-sired gelding Bink in the Grade 4 class.
Given the domination demonstrated by the South East Region (S.E.R.) in the above results, it’s no surprise that they won both categories of the team events.
The Senior team comprised Rosemary Gaffney/Werona, Anne Marie Dunphy/LEB Hugo, Gabrielle Le Guay/Hartpury Sky Is The Limit, and Hannah Fielding/ Florentina DWS.
The Under-25 team was made up of Rachel Dowley/Insticator B.S., Rachel Carr/Calelvador May Blossom, Emily Kate Robinson/ Edvaard, and Oscar O’Connor/ Top Hero 2.
See www.dressageireland.ie/ results/national-championships for full results.
The qualification period is now open for the national winter finals in April, 2019. The next South East Region show is in Danville House Farm in Kilkenny on October 21 by kind permission of Barbara Stallard.
Upcoming shows will be added to the Dressage Ireland website throughout the season.
Enquiries relating to the Youth Development Squad should be directed to Jillie Rogers or Anne Marie Dunphy (details on ser. dressageireland.ie).
The Y.D.S. training course is a S.E.R. initiative set up and run by Jillie and Anne Marie. Its purpose is to identify talent early and nurture it for the international scene. Y.D.S. members travel from all regions to partake in the training.
The All-Ireland winning ladies from Courtown Golf Club.