The death on Monday of amateur great Dr David Sheahan wasn’t just a sad reminder of a bygone era but also the strangely poignant as it co-incided with the start of a new era for student and youth golf in Ireland.
A new Irish Students Series began at Lahinch last week with Cork Institute of Technology’s John Hickey and UCD’s Chloe Ryan winning the Irish Intervarsity Championships at Lahinch.
What they wouldn’t give to reach the heights achieved by the late Dr Sheahan in 1962, when as a 21-year old UCD medical student and amateur, he beat the cream of the British and Irish golf professionals in the Jeyes Tournament at Royal Dublin, a feat not matched until Pablo Martin won the Estoril Open de Portugal in 2007.
A Walker Cup player in 1963, Sheahan won three Irish Close titles, the last of which came at his home club of Grange in 1970.
Winner of the European Team Championship with Ireland in 1965 and 1967, he was Golfer of the Year at Grange at the age of 73 in 2013 and former European Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley rates his him as one of the biggest influences in his career, both on and off the course.
“David is a thorough gentleman, and a terrific example to all the young golfers in the club,” McGinley said a few years ago. “If I’m half as competitive as he is when I’m his age, I’ll be delighted.”
Dr Sheahan was immensely popular at Grange and there were no special regular fourball partners — he played with all comers.
He was always encouraging of youth and he would have welcomed the GUI and ILGU’s new Student Series, which has grown from the development of the strong collegiate golf scene, coinciding with the establishment of the Paddy Harrington scholarship programme at Maynooth University 10 years ago.
Sheahan, Dr. David (Rathgar, Dublin 6) 24th October 2016 (peacefully) in the wonderful care of the doctors, nurses and staff at St. Vincent's Private Hospital. Beloved husband of Maureen and loving father of Leonard, Darren and Lisa. Sadly missed by his family, his grandchildren Ciarán, Mira and Eilis, daughter-in-law Katarina, brother Gerry, sisters-in-law Doreen and June, brothers-in-law David and Brian, nieces, nephews, relatives and a wide circle of friends.
Rest in Peace.
Removal on Thursday evening to the Church of the Three Patrons, Rathgar, arriving at 5.30 pm. Funeral Mass on Friday at 10.00 am. followed by burial at Kilmashogue Cemetery. No flowers please. Donations, if desired, to the Irish Cancer Society.
While many young players continue to take up scholarships at US colleges — Rowan Lester, Conor Purcell and Olivia Mehaffey are three of the bigger names to take the plunge this year — many more are opting to remain at home.
The new Student Championships, which have replaced the Golfing Union of Ireland's Youth Championships, cater for college students of any age as well as youth golfers between the ages of 18 and 21 and who are not in full-time third-level education.
Woodbrook will host the Irish Colleges Match Play Sprint in early March, a new nine-hole team match play event, and the Series then moves to Cork for the Munster Students Amateur Open Championship from 20-22 March.
Following the Leinster Students at Newlands in mid-June and the Ulster Students at Kirkistown Castle in early August, the Series concludes with the Irish Students Open at Bray from 30 August to 1 September.
One of the significant features of the Series is a new nine-hole team match play tournament. Hosted by Woodbrook in early March, the Irish Colleges Match Play Sprint will consist of 27 holes of team match play per day in nine-hole aggregate formats (akin to the GUI’s Barton Shield format). Teams will consist of four players (any combination of male and female) playing in two foursomes pairs.
“The R&A’s recent endorsement of nine-hole golf as a legitimate competitive format is really our basis for this new event,” explained Mark Wehrly, Championships Manager of the GUI.
“We’ve held our match play tournament in Woodbrook for the last two years and the players have really enjoyed it.
“Many people think nine-hole golf will be a good way to attract new people into the game, which is a massive selling point for it. But we also want to show that it can also facilitate a substantial tournament at a time of limited daylight.
“We think it will be very competitive because in a sprint match like this – particularly with the Barton Shield format – anything can happen and matches can turn around really quickly. It should be a lot of fun to watch – very competitive and very exciting.”
Since 2012, the Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golf Union have run competitions for third-level student golfers in Ireland in an effort to encourage the benefits of third-level education for promising golfers and also in an effort to ensure that golfers who embark on such an education stay in the game.
“It’s great to get competitive golf outside of the regular season,” said Irish international Sean Flanagan, who is now in his third year at Maynooth University where he is studying for a degree in Business and Accounting.
“There is a really strong field here at Irish Intervarsity Championship. With Maynooth, we’re constantly playing competitive golf and getting competitive practice.
“You’re always pitting yourself against the best in Ireland, that’s a massive positive factor for us.”
Irish Students Series 2016/2017
- 19-21 October 2016: Irish Intervarsity Championship (Lahinch) - Completed (Winners John Hickey CIT/Chloe Ryan (UCD)
- 20 February 2017: Deadline for submission of teams (with names) for the Irish Colleges Match Play Sprint
- 20 February 2017: Deadline for entries for the Munster Students Amateur Open Championship
- 2-3 March 2017: Irish Colleges Match Play Sprint (Woodbrook)
- 20-22 March 2017: Munster Students Amateur Open Championship (Cork)
- 15 May 2015: Deadline for entries for the Leinster Students Amateur Open Championship
- 12-14 June 2017: Leinster Students Amateur Open Championship (Newlands)
- 4 July 2017: Deadline for entries for the Ulster Students Amateur Open Championship
- 1-3 August 2017: Ulster Students Amateur Open Championship (Kirkistown Castle)
- 2 August 2017: Deadline for entries for the Irish Students Amateur Open Championship
- 30 August-1 September 2017: Irish Students Amateur Open Championship (Bray)