Course open. Buggies are not permitted on the course today. (updated 29 September at 07:00)

Chapter 8 - The inter-club scene

8.1: 1929 - Members with Junior Cup

When pursuing success in inter-club competitions, especially all the way to national level, it is a priceless asset to have the services of a truly outstanding player. The benefits are two-fold: not only can the individual be relied upon for a worthy, personal performance, but his influence on the other players will be highly significant.

Killiney were fortunate to have such a player in Rory Saunders, when they challenged for a national pennant in 1929. Their target was the Irish Junior Cup which started out at a competition without any handicap restriction with the result that in its early years, it wasn’t unusual to see Senior Cup players “doubling-up”.

Essentially, the two, national club singles competitions were aimed at so-called Senior golf clubs and Junior golf clubs, though it is not clear how the status of such clubs was assessed. In a Killiney context, it certainly had nothing to do with the fact of having a nine-hole rather than an 18-hole course.

As it happened, our nine-hole neighbours, Foxrock, were the inaugural winners of the Junior Cup in was resumed in 1905 and they won it again in 1913 and 1914. However, by the time the competition was resumed in 1919, after the Great War had come to a bloody conclusion, Killiney were capable of fielding an admirably competitive line-up.

When the 1919 competition was staged at Hermitage, Killiney recorded impressive victories over Greystones (6-1) and Skerries (5-2) before losing to the host club by 6-1 in the semi-finals. The Killiney team was led by C W Walsh, who was a founder member with a handicap of three in 1903 and he proved his worth by winning his matches against Greystones and Skerries.

Even more impressive, however, was the effort of H Wright, who won all of his three matches, including a lone victory against Hermitage in the semi-finals.

Despite this promising form, however, it was 10 years before the club achieved a Junior Cup break- through. This came at Royal Dublin in 1929 when Saunders led his side to a 5-2 victory over Cork in the final, taking the top match by 4 and 3 against his opponent, R S J Murphy. We are informed by “Irish Golf” that “Killiney Club showed great form in the early stages of the Junior Cup and continued to do so in the final stages, accounting for Cork and Royal Co Down decisively. Killiney is to be congratulated on such good team work.

Killiney also reached the national finals the following year when the venue was Lahinch, which was to become a second golfing home for Saunders. Playing at the top of the order, he won his match in a decisive, 6-1 semi-final victory over Galway. In the final against Douglas, however, Saunders was beaten on the 18th by J G Musgrave and the remainder of the Killiney challenge collapsed in a crushing, 7-0 defeat.

8.2:  Bloom Cup Team 1970. L to R: Standing: P.E. Doris, G. Chadwick, M. Collins, G.H. Crawford, E.N. Webb, T.A. Martin, G.W. Kennedy. Seated: R.G. Large, A.C. Preston, H.N. Robinson, H.N. Robinson, H.R. Roe, A.O’Rourke.

8.3: Bloom Cup Team 1977. Standing from L to R: A.H. Murphy, S. O’Connor, M. Glynn, M. Green, N. Blake, P.D. Bardon, J. Bailie, J. O’Connell, J. Green, W. B. Bolger. Seated from L to R: B. Doyle, J. G. Lyons, R. Wilson, A. O’Rourke (Team Captain), L. R. Quigley (Captain), G.H. Crawford, E.A. Conway, M.G. Bell, B. Molloy.

8.4: Tile Style Trophy Winners 1984. L to R: Ronnie Colquhoun (Team Manager), Peter O’Brien, Dara O’Neill, James McNaughton (Sponsor), Dan Carroll, Declan Smyth and John Naughton, (Captain, Stackstown Golf Club).

8.5: Irish Times Shield Winning Team, 1991. L to R: Keith Bardon, Nigel Duke, Dermot McCarthy, Ray Clinton (Captain), Aengus Cummins and Ronnie Colquhuon (President).

When Sir D Plunket Barton, Bart., a high court judge who was President of Royal Dublin from 1904 to 1923, saw fit to present a cup for competition among Leinster clubs in 1903, the embryonic Killiney club showed an immediate interest. Teams would comprise 12 players in singles matchplay, but the Barton Cup held most appeal for being a handicap event in which a lower handicap player concedes holes up rather than strokes.

As it happened, Killiney entered a team in the 1904 tournament and when the first round matches were staged at Sutton GC, they gained the distinction of beating Dublin University by 25 holes to 23. In is interesting to note that the students had eight players with handicaps of eight or better, whereas W F Moloney (2) and J H Barrington (5) were the only single-figure handicap players in the Killiney line-up.

As many as nine of the Killiney players were receiving strokes when they met Carlow in the second round, but the handicap difference didn’t save them from a defeat by 32 holes to 14. Still, the ambitious nine-hole establishment on Killiney Hill, had made its mark.

A measure of their rapid improvement was that only a year later, they gained a very notable, 20-16 victory over Royal Dublin. And on this occasion, their handicaps worked more favourably than they had done against Carlow, given that all 12 Killiney players were “receiving holes”.

Unlike the Junior Cup, they had to endure only a relatively short apprenticeship before breaking through to victory in the Barton Cup in 1914. Their success was extensively reported in the periodical “Irish Life”.

8.6: Fitzgibbon Cup Winners 1988. Back row L to R: P. Bardon, M. Riseley, S. O’Connor, E. Lennon, J. Fitzgerald, J. Bailie, K. Bardon. Front row: L to R: J. Byrne, B. Molloy, R. Kane (Manager), Bryan Casserly (Captain), N. Duke, J. Connaughton.

It read: “The Killiney team were responsible for a meritorious performance in defeating Portmarnock in the final of the Barton Cup. They won all their matches in the first half of the final, which was played at Killiney, and in the concluding half, they won one match, halved another and lost three.

“The winners, as they admit themselves, had a somewhat lucky progress through the competition. In the first round they got a bye. Then they beat, successively, Grange, Lucan, Hermitage and Portmarnock but in every round, they had the luck to be drawn first, and so were able to play three matches at home.”

As with Foxrock in the Junior Cup, and indeed all the competition winners of 1914, Killiney were Barton Cup champions for five years, while activities were suspended during the war years. In the event, a notable member of the triumphant team was S M “Sporty” Ashlin, a founder-member of the club who was credited with a handicap of eight, in 1908. He went on to gain the distinction of being the only Killiney member to be honoured with the captaincy on three occasions and he was also president of the club. His daughter, Stephanie, also had a very long association with the club.

With the event firmly established in a foursomes format,  rather  than  the  original  singles,  the club reached the final again in 1924 but due to a dispute with the Leinster Branch GUI over the changing of dates for the final, Killiney withdrew from the competition and Hermitage were awarded the trophy by default. And they were in the final once more in 1926, on this occasion against Clontarf, who were establishing themselves as something of Barton Cup specialists.

In the first leg of the final, Clontarf capitalised on home advantage to open up a 4-1 lead. It will be noted that the only Killiney win in the first leg came from a youthful Rory Saunders and his partner in the anchor position.

8.7:  Barton Cup 1974 Runners-up. Standing L to R: D. Carroll, T. Macken, C. Coyle, R. Walsh, P. McIntyre, J. Carlos, K.J. Blake, D. Redding, L. Malone, R.M. Kane, J.B. Jordan, (Sec.). Seated L to R: N. Duke, T. McCarron, J.P. Lyons, L.C. Cranfield, (Pres.), D. O’Herlihy (Manager), S.H. Pigot, K. Green.

Still, Killiney rallied to achieve the same margin of victory on home soil. In a play-off for the title, however, they were beaten by Clontarf at Milltown.

Though the club reached the semi-finals in 1948, it is interesting that a more productive revival in Barton Cup fortunes should have occurred in 1973 and 1974, when Killiney teams included an emerging young player by the name of Nigel Duke. By this stage, Duke was playing off six and had Paddy McIntyre as his partner for the 1973 final against Mountrath.

8.8: Barton Cup 1973 - Runners up. Standing L to R: V. Gardner, B. Conway, P. McIntyre, L. Andrews, J. Carlos, K.J. Blake, J. Byrne, M. Brophy, J.B. Jordan (Sec). Seated L to R: J.J. Fitzgibbon, T. McCarron, D. O’Herlithy (Manager), S.M. Pigot, B. Casserly.

That was when disappointing away form led to 6-4 defeat for Killiney they lost again in the final the following year, this time to Baltinglass by the same margin.

“Every final has its own story and Mountrath was certainly a night to remember, recalled Duke.   T McCarron, Des Ryan, the Arighos, they were all there as part of the Killiney contingent. You’ll still hear people talking about it, even though we lost.

Duke, who joined Killiney in 1964, had been in the club’s Barton Cup team since 1969, mainly as a partner to Brian Molloy, Tom McCarron or Brendan Conway.

Though Duke has clearly been an inspirational figure to lesser players in the club, there has been no national pennant to complement the Junior Cup achievement of 1929. From a personal standpoint, however, he can claim to have succeeded where Rory Saunders failed, in that he won the Captain’s Prize (J P Lyons) in 1974, with 37 Stableford points.

“I held the course-record on the old, par-69 course with a 65,” Duke went on. “In fact that remained the record when the course was actually closed and the record for the new layout in 68, held jointly by Keith Bardon and myself.”

By way of emphasising the nature of Killiney as a friendly, family-style club, Duke claims that he is always open to offers of a game and often plays his simmer golf at seven or eight in the morning. He is also a member of Rosslare GC, where he plays on a Sunday.

“I’m not aware of any serious playing cliques in Killiney,” he went on. “You don’t tend to get those sort of situations where there’s a nine-hole course and in that regard, I would reckon that our club is friendlier than most. I remember in the good old days of the mixed, visitors used to love coming to the club for the food and the craic. And it all happened in one room. In most clubs you have to leave the bar to go into the restaurant, whereas in Killiney, everything happened in the same area. If you were eating or drinking you were involved in everything that was happening in the club.

8:9: Dublin team Trophy Winners 1981. Back row L to R: Back Row: Hugh Keegan, Peter Bardon, Brian Molloy. Front row L to R: Liam Malone, Des Ryan, (Captain), Dan Carroll.

“People who were knocked out on the Monday of the Remy Martin would still come back on the Tuesday and Wednesday for the meal and a quick renewal of friendships.”

One of Nigel Duke’s most memorable victories was in the East of Ireland Scratch Foursomes at Grange in 1980, when he and Woodbrook’s Tony Maher won with a record 36-hole total of 136.

Having been runners-up three years previously, the Duke-Maher partnership of two two-handicappers achieved a crushing, nine-stroke victory over no less a combination than Walker Cup representative Pat Mulcare and his Woodbrook colleague, Niall O’Farrell.

And Killiney’s place in the local community? “When I started playing there, the area was far more rural than it is now,” Nigel replied. “Watsons wasn’t there. And I can remember playing with Cyril Coyne when he had the idea that Killiney should swap with Watson’s Nursery and sell our site on the hill. He was convinced we would have had an 18-hole golf course where the nursery was and in theory, he was right”.

Meanwhile, one could imagine a youthful John Green learning from Duke as they both developed their golfing skills during the 1970s. And there was a rather special pay-off for John on October 28th 1977 in the play-off for the Master Tankard Tournament, organised by the Southern Branch of the PGA Irish Region. Conditions at the Curragh were decidedly hostile when Slade Valley’s Gerry Egan captured the professionals’ prize with a cred- itable, one-over-par 73 and Green, playing off 13, comfortably led the amateurs with 36 Stableford Points.


Prior to their triumph at Rosslare, Nigel Duke and Keith Bardon contributed to another notable Killiney victory, this time with the help of two colleagues. Dermot McCarthy and Aengus Cummins joined their experienced club-mates in a splendid victory in the 1991 Irish Times Shield, one of the oldest events in Irish golf.

As it happened, this was the club’s first triumph in an event organised by the Leinster Alliance and it was achieved at Castle GC only after a tense battle against the newcomers of Beech Park.

With a combined, net score of 205, the best three net scores out of four, the Killiney quartet matched the five under par target set by their west Co Dublin rivals. But in one of the closest finishes in the history of the trophy, victory was secured on the non-counting cards, Duke’s 73 against a 75 from Beech Park’s Pat McCormack.

Nigel, who was then playing off three, was five over par gross for 10 holes when he learned that he had to cover the remainder of the journey in two over to beat the Beech Park target. His response was characteristic of a player who has produced some out-standing category-one performances over the years.

Pat Smyth, who is a regular competitor in Links Society Outings, has long since learned to cope with having an illustrious older brother, even when Des insists on turning back the years, as he did when capturing the Madeira Island Open in 2001. At the age of 48, Des became the oldest winner in the history of the PGA European Tour.

8.10: Pat Smyth.

As for Pat: he has carved out a productive niche as a club player with a single-figure handicap. And he gained the distinction of winning the Co Louth Junior Scratch Cup at Baltray in 1985.

Other notable successes by Killiney members are: Dublin Captains’ Prize (1987), Arthur Murphy; McCrea Cup, Dan Carroll; Holmpatrick Cup, Tom Quinn and Brian McManus. And Keith Bardon set a course-record 66 at Royal Tara in 1995.

8.11: Bloom Cup/Runners up 1983. Back row L to R: Kevin Blake, Peter Dempsey, Seamus Dunne, Michael Green (Vice-Captain), Hugh Keegan, Michael Glynn. Middle row L to R: Gerry Doyle (President), Brian Arigho, Arthur Murphy (Team Manager), George Crawford (Captain), Brian McManus. Front row L to R: Paul Pratt, Ronnie Lynam.

Meanwhile, at junior level, the Style Cup was captured in 1984 by a team comprising Peter O’Brien, Dara O’Neill, Dan Carroll Jnr and Declan Smyth. Then, in 1985, the Squire Ennis Juvenile four-somes was won by Keith Bardon, Mark Riseley, Declan Smyth, Peter O’Brien and Tom Fitzgerald. A year later, under manager Ronnie Colquhoun, a squad comprising Fraser Vaughan, Peter O’Brien, Alan Curran, Seamus Smyth, Declan Smyth and Mark Riseley were runners-up in the Leinster Section of the Irish Junior Foursomes for the Smurfit Cup. The club also claimed runner-up position in the All- Ireland Youth Championship of 1989. 

At individual level, Riseley won the Munster Boys Championship in 1988, which brought him international honours at that level, before he went on to capture the Irish Universities’ Championship of 1991. O’Brien was capped by Leinster at boys’ level.

8.12: John Green.

8.13: Senior Cup Team, 1982. Against Grange G.C. Back row: Alister Smith, Brendan Conway. Front row: Sean Pigot, Nigel Duke and Joe King. (Keith Bardon, was one of the caddies!) (This photograph was not in the original publication.)

8.14: Irish Times Shield Winning Team, Castle GC 1991. L to R: Nigel Duke, Eamon Fahy, Dermot McCarthy, Aengus Cummins, Derek McCullough, Marketing Manage Irish Times and Keith Bardon.