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  The Irishman "Down Under" - David O'Leary

Cork native David O'Leary is a professional footballer, currently plying his trade in Australia with Mount Druitt Town Rangers. Mount Druitt Town Rangers play in the FFA FNSW (Football Federation Australia, Football New South Wales) Premier League. David is also a top-class Pitch and Putt player, having won the Cork Intermediate Strokeplay championship in 2016 and finished second in the Munster Intermediate Strokeplay the same year. We were delighted to catch a few words with him about his debut at the Australian Pitch and Putt Open.    

fippa.org (Q.) How much are you enjoying life in Australia?

David O'Leary (DO'L.) I’m loving my time in Australia. It’s very different starting fresh in a country on the opposite side of the world away from all your friends and family, but fortunately I came over here with my long time girlfriend Sinead* and settled very well into the Aussie lifestyle.

Q. How is your soccer career progressing with your new club?

DO'L. Soccer was a big part of me coming to Australia. I wanted to play at as high a level as possible over here but with the rules being different compared to at home with foreign players and me coming half way through the preseason, I ended up signing with a club out west called Mount Druitt Town Rangers, where we won promotion for the first time in the club's history and Rangers are now preparing for the top flight football in New South Wales.  

Q. Your impressions of the Australian Pitch and Putt Open experience?

DO'L. It’s a great experience to be able to play in a foreign country and be treated as well as a local and that’s how I feel when I play Pitch and Putt over here. They have been very welcoming and made it feel like home. That’s the beauty about Pitch and Putt. It seems whether you're in Ireland, Spain, Australia or anywhere in the world, you will meet fantastic people who do marvellous things for the game.

Q. Which Australian players impressed you?

DO'L. I was very fortunate to play alongside Tom (Rickit), James (Rogerson) and Jack (Kalis) during my time over here and it was an absolute pleasure. The scoring speaks for itself. Tom has just won three Australian Opens in a row and I can see him going on to win more in the future. The consistency he showed not just that weekend, but also all year speaks volumes for his game. The same can be said for James and Jack. 

James is no stranger to winning and will be back next year hopefully on the European circuit and show his skills on the other side of the world. Jack has also won a lot this year and has the game to go all the way, and I believe it's only a matter of time before he'll be engraving his name on the trophy.

The ladies was a lot closer than the gents this year. A great turnout, and even better scoring. The consistency of Helen's (Angel) game is what got her over the line this year and she would give the ladies back home a good run for their money if they were ever to meet.

Q. Assess your own performance at Canberra International?

DO'L. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the result I was looking for. I had a great start to the tournament with an opening round of 49 but couldn’t kick on from there leaving too much for me to do to catch the likes of Tom, Jack and James. I won’t be complaining finishing fifth but I won’t settle for it either so hopefully I’ll put the head down and come back fighting again next year.

Q. What did you think of the Canberra International course?

DO'L. The course was very similar to courses back home. I think the shortest distance was about 33m while the longest was 68m so I couldn’t complain there. Apparently the course wasn’t in the best of condition leading up to the tournament, but that was not evident on the weekend. A lot of credit should go to the staff and players who volunteer at the course, and especially to Charlie and Marie Hutchinson for their work in running the competition to make it as good as it was.

Q. Have you had many opportunities to play Pitch and Putt in Australia?

DO'L. I haven’t been playing as much as I did in Ireland, as the course I play is over an hour away for me to play on. Earlier in the year I had a bit more time, and could practice on average once every two weeks and I was unfortunate not to grab a title in the ACT Masters this year. Leading up to the Open, I had been travelling a bit so could not practice as much as I wished but hopefully I’ll sort that out in the coming months.

Q. How much of an influence has your Dad (1983 Irish Matchplay champion John O'Leary) been on your Pitch and Putt career?

DO'L. My Dad is the sole reason for me playing this game. With what he’s accomplished by winning a national title at the age of 18 and to hear the stories of the “olden days" from other players in Cork and around the country just makes you want to practice and practice to try and catch up to what he’s won. Even after him taking over a decade out of the game, he’s still competing at the highest level and gives me a few tips here and there to better myself on and off the course. 

* Our congratulations to David and Sinead on their recent engagement.