Hanlon finishes Third at Irish Open

Alan Hanlon knocking in his birdie putt on the final hole in the Irish Open 2014

Alan Hanlon knocking in his birdie putt on the final hole in the Irish Open 2014

Alan Hanlon had a superb third place finish at last weekend’s Irish Open in Glenville, Dublin. The much anticipated return of the International Irish Open to the Pitch & Putt calender after an absence of 3 years, was a huge success. The cream of Irish Pitch & Putt was joined by players from a multitude of other countries including Holland, England, Catalonia and Australia to mention but a few. When you see players of the calibre of the current number one ranked player, Ray Murphy, JR Crangle, JJ Walsh, Liam O’Donovan, the O’Sullivan brothers, Damien Fleming, William Buckley, Darren Collins – I could go on and on – all playing this prestigious event, it gives an idea of our own Alan Hanlon’s achievement in his third place finish.

The scene was set in practise on Friday when old friends from different countries met up once again through the fantastic sport that is Pitch & Putt. Practise was light-hearted but still with a hint of seriousness as each player tried to learn all they could about the challenging Glenville course. The Glenville club in fairness has to be complimented on the excellent manner in which they hosted this event. They were more than welcoming to all players over the weekend and they presented the course in the very good condition.

Saturday morning came and the 2014 Irish Open kicked off. Our foreign visitors certainly experienced Irish weather over the weekend as the wind and rain did not really relent at any stage over the two days. The early leaders after the opening 36 holes were a group on 9 under par which included Ray Murphy and JR Crangle. The problem was, over 40% of the field failed to finish their second round on the Saturday as the weather finally won out. Torrential rain at tea-time on Saturday evening flooded the course and left it unplayable for the rest of the evening. Tournament referee, Eamon Birchell called a halt to proceedings for the day with all players asked to resume play on Sunday morning at 8.30am.

At this stage Alan Hanlon was quietly in the picture after shooting a very decent 49 opening round, he was also 2 under after his opening 3 holes of the second round. The unofficial tournament leader at this stage though was Castletown’s Eamon Gibney. Eamon had shot an exceptional 45 in the first round and was 3 under after 8 in the second when play was suspended.

Alan pitching the blind 13th hole in the final found

Alan pitching the blind 13th hole in the final found

So Sunday morning came and the course was once again green instead of flooded. Play resumed and all attention turned to Gibney. He did not disappoint as he completed his round in 8 under par to set a clubhouse lead of 17 under. Alan Hanlon was quietly getting on with his own business though and the Westmeath man, through a mixture of excellent pitching and a few trademark chip-ins, returned the best round of the weekend – an astonishing 43. This left Alan on 16 under and only one behind. The gap to the rest of the field was a further 4 shots when all second rounds were complete so it was widely believed that the winner would be Gibney or Hanlon.

The final round began with legendary JJ Walsh joining the two leading men in the final group – JJ was on 12 under. Gibney started where he left off – a chip in on the opening hole extended his lead immediately. JJ made a charge, birdying 6 of his opening 9 hole to go to 18 under. Alan was making steady progress as well as he had moved to 19 under at this stage – but Gibney was relentless. He was rock solid all weekend and he just kept accumulating the birdies. Eventually as all three men pitched exquisite balls to the final hole, Gibney was safe in the knowledge that he was not catchable. Alan had kept JJ at bay but could do nothing about Limerick’s Liam O’Donovan who came charging from the pack to shoot 11 under in the final round and snatch second from the Collinstown man. Even still as Alan knocked in his birdie on the last for a very respectful 20 under par total, he was notably satisfied with his weekend’s work. Don’t get me wrong – Alan Hanlon as everyone knows, is a winner as always will be, but third at this level is an achievement no matter who you are. We congratulate you Alan – a brilliant performance and once again you carried Collinstown’s flag well.

Gibney was a deserved winner in the end and no one can say it was a surprise. The Meath man has been played to a consistently high standard over the last number of years and a significant win like this was always on the cards. Marian Byrne from Kildare won the Ladies event, 16 years after winning her first National title at the same venue!! Pacelli Darcy from Limerick won the over 55′s event, a gentleman of the sport and a very popular winner this weekend.

The rest of the Collinstown contingent finished down the pecking order but thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. John Browne finished 5 under in total in 37th place out of the 130 strong field. Larry McGinn was next on 3 under par in 47th place. Martin Carter finished 1 over par in 61st place and Paddy Browne finished in 85th in the end. Rene Bloem did not played his final round so was not classified.

Click here for the full results from the weekend

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