Breda Lonergan - the Rocklodge stop on a never to be forgotten 2016 journey
Breda Lonergan still isn’t overly familiar with the V Irish Open venue. “I've played Rocklodge maybe five times and I still find it a very hard course. One has to be spot on with pitching.” That did not hinder another cause for current year celebration at the Rocklodge Irish Open.
“My pitching was good. The greens were brilliant, so I got a lot of good putts. My playing partners (Trim’s Paddy Kelly and Trevor Ahern of Collins on Sunday) were great also,” reflects Breda of her five stroke ladies success at Irish Open 2016.
After a pleasant trip to Dagenham (where she finished fifth) a month before, Breda thoroughly enjoyed the whole Rocklodge experience. “I was impressed with the organisation of the Irish Open. They had to deal with rain delays. So all told very well done, to all.”
The withdrawal due to injury of Breda’s long standing friend and rival slightly overshadowed the latest success. “Yes, I was disappointed that Eleanor pulled out. Eleanor has always played Rocklodge brilliantly. When you're playing in a big event it's always great to have the best players taking part. It's sweeter for the winner to win when the field is from the best players.”
British Open champion Mary Murray finished second at Rocklodge and some overseas visitors were also in contention. “Well done to all players, says Breda. “Mary has had a great year. Lovely to see the Dutch coming over to play. I'm looking forward to meeting them again!”
As is customary in Pitch and Putt, there is generous acknowledgement of the feats of others. “Very impressive,” is Breda’s view of Frank Dineen’s performance at Rocklodge. “Frank played brilliant. I'm delighted for him. He did what was needed in the last six holes. Very well done.
2016 will linger long in the memory of family, friends and supporters of Breda Lonergan. A key birthday in Pitch and Putt terms had passed and there was a fresh opportunity. “I can't believe my year,” reflects Breda. “I just wanted to get my senior (over 55s championship) under my belt really. But to get the national, well I can only say I was elated.”
Breda’s victory in the All Ireland Strokeplay at St. Stephen’s arrived nearly three decades after she previously took the title in 1987 at Athgarvan. “It's the gap between my titles that made it sweet,” laughs Breda, who was the Irish Ladies Matchplay champion at Parteen in 2014.
That was shortly after Breda’s reappearance on the Pitch and Putt circuit after some 20 years away. There were a couple of main reasons for her return. “My left knee is not great, so I had to retire from the driver,” says Breda of her departure from golf. Her other motive was intensely personal. “Tipp Hills had closed. In my resting up, I decided to try and get Tipp Hills up and running for my friend Sean Keane.”
PPUI Hall of Fame inductee and Patron Sean Keane (RIP), who died in 2014, was a Tipperary Hills stalwart from its inception in 1970. Sean and his wife Nellie had nurtured Breda in Pitch and Putt from a young age. “Yes, I'm glad I came back and delighted with my achievements and I'm delighted to have put Tipp Hills on the map for Sean. He made Tipp Hills.”
It appears that there will be a widening of the Lonergan Pitch and Putt targets in future years. “I would really like to play the World Strokeplay in Norway and I plan to play foreign international opens.”