Cross border bid for Irish Open

The hardy members of Ballyliffin in remote Donegal are set to dig the Irish Open out of a massive hole.

The stunning links complex on the Irishowen peninsula has made a joint bid with classic track Royal Portrush to host the event in alternate years from 2010.

All they need is financial support from the tourism bodies on either side of the border to showcase the famous north-west links to millions of golfers around the planet.

With the Irish Open struggling financially at Adare Manor, Ballyliffin general manager John Farren believes there is a real chance of pulling off the deal.

Hopeful of government support from north and south, Farren said: "The idea is definitely a goer. It’s just a question of that old nutmeg - the pounds, shillings and pence.”

Set to host the Irish Seniors Open on the European Seniors Tour from June 20-22, Ballyliffin is determined to put on a big show and land the biggest prize of all.

And that's why they've gone into partnership with neighbours Royal Portrush to host the event in alternate years with financial backing from Failte Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

Farren revealed: "I was approaching [Ryder Cup director] Richard Hills with a view to bringing the Irish Open here under a two or three year plan.

“Obviously we work hand in glove with Royal Portrush as partners in North & West Coast Links and we are very close neighbours. They are of the same line of thinking as we are. What’s good for us is good for them and vice versa.

“So both of us have approached both Governments and tourism authorities with regard to a proposal we have made to the European Tour. I have to say that we’ve been told we are pressing all the right buttons. The response has been very, very positive."

Seniors stars such as Des Smyth, Sandy Lyle, Costantino Rocca and Bob Charles will tee it up in the €450,000 Irish Seniors Open on the Old Links, which was renovated by six-time major winner Nick Faldo two years ago.

But Ballyliffin is hoping to stage the Irish Open on the newer Glashedy Links, which hosted the European Tour's North West of Ireland Open in 2002 .

The club's 1400 members are no strangers to pulling out all the stops to achieve their objectives.

Founded in 1947, the pioneers cut the fairways with their own lawnmowers and battled to keep sheep off the greens.

Nearly 60 years later they have 36 holes and attract 20,000 visitors a year from all parts of the world.

Tour stars Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell are fully behind an Ulster staging of the Irish Open with Adare Manor's three year deal set to end next year.

Harrington said: "They have a great golfing public up there and they’d love to see it. And I am sure we would have a great week. Royal Portrush would be ideal for me."

Portrush native McDowell, added: "I've always dreamt of playing a tournament in Portrush. It's certainly something that I would love to see happen."