Anthony Galvin - Target achieved for 'Aggie'

With initials of A.G., I suppose it was inevitable. At school, Anthony Galvin soon became 'Aggie'. Does he like the nickname? "I love it," confirms the new Irish Senior (Over 55) Open champion. "When people call me Aggie, it’s more personal."

What's the Offaly Inter-County player's reaction to his latest success in a very fruitful career? "It feels very good," says Anthony of his one stroke win in the July 2022 event. "I’m absolutely over the moon with it to be honest with you. It feels great, given that I never entered any one of these (international opens) before."

This one was in the sights, however, of a man who contests with gusto every Pitch and Putt tournament played at his beloved Tullamore. "I targeted the over 55s. That’s was my aim to try and get that," .

The opening two rounds of the VIII Irish Open overall represented a satisfactory outing for the man who helped Offaly to third place in the All Ireland Inter-County championship as far back as 30 years ago - at Cloghogue in 1992. "I was out at 11.00 am on Saturday – the second session. I had two 51s. It was slightly windy. Initially I thought two 51s weren’t good but when I saw the scores after it wasn’t too bad!"

Conditions were a little different for the final round. "It was windy out there and the greens were cut very tight. On Sunday we had a bit of rain. When the rain stopped the wind dropped for a while," reflects Anthony, whose son Sean is also a first-class player.

A third of the way through his fine final round of 48 came a watershed moment, "On the long 6th I had a lengthy putt and I putted it off the green. It missed the hole and just kept going and going. Then I chipped it in for par. That’s what kick started my round. I was only one under at the time and a four at that time would have stalled the momentum big time."

Bogey avoidance there was central to Anthony finishing on 11 under par 151, which proved just better than a group of three players - clubmates Paul Carey and Paddy Murphy, who took second and third place respectively and Leonard O'Meara from neighbouring Erry. "There were very few twos out there so when you get them you have to hold on to them You can’t be throwing them away by three putting."

Anthony was well aware of the progress of one of his closest competitors."Paul Carey was in the group behind. I was able to keep an eye on him." Carey was actually two clear of Galvin overnight but his 51 on Sunday left him one adrift overall.

Murphy and O'Meara were the joint 36-hole leaders. "I wasn’t able to keep an eye on Leonard and Paddy during my round but there were a couple of heavy showers and the leaders didn’t start (at their appointed time). It was really heavy rain. When I finished they had four or five holes left. I watched them then. The last four or five holes in Tullamore are not for the faint hearted."

Ultimately, Murphy and O'Meara both signed for closing 53s to also post cumulative scores on -10.

Anthony's late father Dinny was a Tullamore stalwart while his mother Annie is still a keen player and an indomitable worker for Tullamore. Anthony recognises the extraordinary input by another dedicated club colleague. "The course was immaculate. Darren (O'Connell, the chief event organiser of this year's Open) did some job."

Barry Morrissey built on his 2020 Irish Senior Open victory by claiming this year's All Ireland Matchplay championship. Does the multiple Offaly County champion have any ambitions in that regard? "Just enjoy every game and play the best I can," is Anthony's Pitch and Putt philosophy. "I know that’s an old cliché but when this (Irish Open) comes round again (probably in 2024) I hope to defend it. Do my living best and try and win it twice in a row."