A Quick 18 with Bobby Doyle, Dublin legend
Former Dublin footballer Bobby Doyle (Clontarf Golf Club) pictured at the GUI National Golf Academy for the launch of the 2016 AIG Cups & Shields Picture by  Pat Cashman

Former Dublin footballer Bobby Doyle (Clontarf Golf Club) pictured at the GUI National Golf Academy for the launch of the 2016 AIG Cups & Shields Picture by Pat Cashman

This feature first appeared in the Irish Independent's Thursday, Tee to Green supplement on 8 July 2016

  • Bobby Doyle
  • Club: Clontarf GC
  • Handicap 10

A roving right corner forward with that legendary Dublin football team of the 1970s, Bobby Doyle swapped gaelic football for golf and remains as highly competitive as ever.

As he celebrates the 40th anniversary of Dublin’s 1976 All Ireland victory, he has high hopes of more joy for the Dubs this year.

1 How did you get started in the game?

“I started because everyone at work played golf and they were getting time off to play so I said I’d give it a go. It was the late 80s — I was in my 40s at the time — and I went for an office day out with Avis Fleet Solutions and never really looked back. The first place I joined was the Christy O’Connor club when it was in Hollystown. I got into Clontarf as a five-day member and eventually a full member and I just loved it. I went from a handicap of 23 down to eight in just a few years. I’m off 10 now, but I still love it.

2 What was so special about that Dublin team and Heffo’s Army? 

“It was just a great time and we had great players — Hanahoe, Keavney, Cullen, Doherty. These days, kids have so many things to entertain them but we came from nothing we were a bit of flash, a splash of colour when there was nothing much happening in Dublin at that time.”

3 How would you describe your football style?

“I played soccer with Malahide United for many years as a kind of midfield play maker. In gaelic I was a right corner forward i but I had that lovely roving role and I could go where I liked. I was extremely fit in those days. I just loved that freedom.”

4 What’s your best score on the golf course? 

“I’ve had a couple of good scores but I guess finishing second in the Clontarf captain’s prize twice is the best I’ve done. The first time, I can’t remember what I had, but I got cut three shots at the time. I was really taking it seriously back then. Maybe some day.”

5 What’s your career highlight on the golf course? 

“Winning the AIG Jimmy Bruen Shield with Clontarf in 2010. I had a great partner in Frank Kellett. The nerves were the same as when I played for Dublin. When you go Croke Park and the national anthem is played, the hairs go up on the back of your neck. But then the match starts and it’s just another pitch and it’s the same with golf. Once you’ve hit the first ball off the first tee, it’s only another game.”

6 What do you think when you hear of guys choking?

“You are going to make mistakes and you just have to put them behind you. It’s the same in football as it is in golf. I was a selector with Dublin and if you’d see a fella making a mistake and people would be giving out and saying, take him off. But I’d say, leave him. It’s just a mistake. It’s part of sport."

7 How often do you play golf?

“I play at weekends but I’d play golf three times a week if I got the chance. I do get a kick when people say they remember you playing for Dublin 40 years ago. There was something about that team that was a bit different hence we’re still together and we still meet. I think we just captured the public imagination.”

8 What the favourite club in your bag?

“I have a TaylorMade four iron, a rescue club. I just love that thing. It goes 170-180 yards. It’s my go-to club.”

9 What’s your most memorable shot?

“I hit a good one in the Jimmy Bruen against Hollystown, a three iron to two or three feet at the 11th. The birdie put us ahead in the match and we went on the Leinster semifinals.

10 Who’s your favourite golfer?

“I love watching Jason Day. His concentration, those perfect shots. But all these pros are so impressive. I played six holes with Kevin Phelan in a pro-am not long ago and it was just a joy to watch.” 

11 What’s your favourite major?

“The British Open as we always called it. There is just something magical about the last day. American golf is too much target golf for me.”

12 What’s your dream fourball?

“I’d love to play with Pádraig Harrington, Kevin Moran and John Mahony, who owns the company I work for. He was a low handicapper at one stage and a great character. If I had to choose a partner, I’d go with Moran. We soldiered together for a long time in that Dublin team.”

13 Why did you wear your socks around your ankles when you played for the Dubs? 

“I just wanted to feel free. It’s the way I played as a kid and they way I always played.”

14 Any similarities between golf and gaelic football?

“All I can say is that the competitive edge is the same. I still hate the bad shots.”

15 Who is your favourite sportsman?

“George Best. He was excitement on two legs. As a kid, I went up to Belfast to see him play for Northern Ireland against Scotland when nobody travelled north at the time. It was just a joy to watch the guy. He had it all.”

16 Is there a mulligan you’d like in sport?

“I’d probably like another go at that short putt that cost me the captain’s prize the second time. It was about three feet and I pushed it."

17 Who do you fancy for the All Ireland Football title this year?

“It’s very hard to bet against Dublin. They’ve a fabulous squad of players. I love the way Jim Gavin changes the team around and brings in new players. At the moment they seem to be winning matches fairly easy but September is when we want them playing well.

18 A regret?

“That we didn’t do the three in a row in the 1978 All Ireland final. We were ahead and Kerry came back to beat us. I didn’t agree with some of the referee’s decisions that day and it set a pattern for the game.  We were well beaten but we we’re well beaten by some decisions that were made. The famous Mike Sheehy goal, when we handed him back the ball and he chipped Paddy Cullen when you can’t take a quick free. It was predestined, I suppose, and these things happen.”

This feature first appeared in the Irish Independent's Thursday, Tee to Green supplement on 8 July 2016. Tee to Green returns after a two-week Christmas break on 5 January 2017.