The drive to Ballyliffin was not without its perils on Saturday morning for the final Alliance visit of the season to Inishowen. But the members are made of very stern stuff and they battled through ice, snow and strong winds to get to Ballyliffin to enjoy their game of winter golf.
They were not disappointed in the weather which ensured that each got their fair share of hailstones at regular intervals.
The strong wind, which did not abate all day, added to the difficulties. The course as befits a links with a high standing in the 100 best golf courses was in excellent condition with the greens true despite all the winter storms that it has endured recently. As usual at this time of year, the course is played over the back nine first.
In the Gross section for the second competition running, Michael McGeady was beaten for the first spot on break of tie rule. This time it was by touring professional Brendan McCarroll making a welcome visit to his home course.
After nine they were level on one over and Michael's card as ever was a model of tidiness with just one stroke dropped to par and that at the par-three 8th. He had 8 pars in all. Brendan birded the sixth but an overambitious drive saw him run up an ugly double bogey at the ninth.
Finnian O’Doherty was matching them in that he was also one over for his nine but Finnian was playing erratically with three bogeys compensated for by birdies at the fifth and sixth.
So the trio turned for home on what is more usually the front nine. After three more holes Finnian was one ahead of Michael and two ahead of Brendan. However, as often happens in sport, things turned at the very next hole hole — the par-five 13th.
Finnian double bogied and Michael and Brendan recorded birdies. Michael then parred his way home while Brendan birdied the 15th which gave him a level par round to equal Michael but gave him the victory on break of tie.
Finnian despite leading after 12 had two further bogeys to end with four over. However, his performance was strong enough for him to wrap up his first Gross "Golfer of the Year" title with one counting event to come.
In fourth place was Noel Callan, a stroke further. Noel is lying second in the "Golfer of the Year" but still has work to do if he is to be runner-up as he can be caught by three others — Seamus McMonagle, John G McBride and Michael McGeady .
In the Nett section there was no love lost between the McGettigan brothers from Strabane as they vied with each other in a struggle not only for a win but also for those vital points in the "Golfer of the Year" title race.
Despite the inclement weather there was a noble struggle in the Nett section with quite a few relishing the conditions only to fall away somewhat on the back nine.
Odran McGettigan was out in 21 stableford points. His playing partner Jim Harley was on 20. On 19 was the eventual winner Maurice McGettigan as were Alliance Captain Brian Wallace, Kieran Martin and Eamonn O'Carroll.
However, as the others fell away one by one the real battle between the brothers got under way and gradually, Maurice got the upper hand. Odran had an unfortunate blank at the 15th thus handing the advantage to his brother, who beat him on the break of tie.
This win in the same way that the Gross has been decided with one counting event to go means that Maurice cannot now be caught for the title of Nett golfer of the year.
Odran is not safe for the runner up position as he can be caught by Eddie McHugh.
Next competition Rosapenna G.C. on Saturday, 7th March 2015
The Alliance season will end with the Captain's (Brian Wallace) Day to be held in Dunfanaghy on 19th March 2015
The incoming Captain for 2015/16 is David Forbes from the popular Forbes family from Newtownstewart. David, who now runs the Hill Valley Par-3 and Driving Range and of course plays his golf in Faughan Valley, which is also in their golfing stable.
North West Golfing Alliance, Ballyliffin Golf Club, Old Links
Saturday 21 st February, Par 71 SSS 71
- Maurice McGettigan (17) Strabane G.C. 39 Pts b.o.t.
- Odran McGettigan (25) Strabane G.C. 39 Pts
- David Forbes (8) Faughan Valley G.C. 36 Pts b.o.t.
- Eamonn O’Carroll (12) Letterkenny G.C. 36 Pts
- Brendan McCarroll (scr) Ballyliffin G.C. 71 b.o.t.
- Michael McGeady (scr) North West G.C. 71
- Finnian O’Doherty (1) Letterkenny G.C. 75
- Noel Callan (scr)) Faughan Valley 76
- J Foley, J Coyle, C Davison, D McGeough