Earlier this month, the Irish U-18 golfers were promoted back to Division 1 in European competition following a very impressive Division 2 win in the Czech Republic. There was Roscommon involvement with Roscommon Golf Club member, Cathal McConn, present as the non-playing captain.
He invited the Roscommon People to his home last week where the impressive European silverware was on display.
“It was a very proud moment, it was a great buzz to be part of this elite team of golfers who play at such a high level. I’m very proud,” he beamed.
“They are a great bunch of lads from all over Ireland, they were very easy to handle and there are definitely players there with great potential.”
Cathal’s involvement came after he became a delegate on the junior golf committee in Connacht. From there he became involved with the national committee and started work with elite panels of underage golfers. All of this after a relatively late tee-off.
“I didn’t really start playing until I was 36, I had been hurling for Athleague before then. I started golfing properly with a handicap of 19 before getting that down to 7.
“It’s a great sport. People think it’s an individual sport but being a team member is vital in golf. That was evident in the Czech Republic.”
Ireland had been demoted from European Division 1 in 2014 and Cathal says that that’s something which needed to be rectified at the earliest opportunity.
“The top 16 are in Division One, we made a concerted effort this year to get back there. The Eastern European countries like Slovenia are becoming stronger but we are at least top ten I think, we shouldn’t have found ourselves in Division Two.”
Cathal highlighted the need for more young players to take up the game but added that at elite amateur level at least, things are looking up.
“There is strong competition from other sports but I think young players need to pick a specific sport at the age of 14 or 15 in order to develop. The elite players receive coaching throughout the winter from Neil Manchip and they get to play at Carton House in Kildare. A lot of them go onto the United States, Maynooth and the UK with university scholarships, it’s a slow process and not everyone can make it but it’s down to how young players approach it.”
Cathal is currently serving his second year of a three-year term and next July will see him take another group of young elite golfers into European competition. This time however, it will be to La Manga in Spain to take on the very best Europe has to offer.