The resurgence of Pitch and Putt with Bandon glory

Posted on: 11th October, 2016

Category: Sport & Fitness

Contributor: John Bohane

ABOVE: Mark Keohane (3rd from left).

Bandon man Mark Keohane recently guided the Ireland pitch and putt team to World Cup glory following their narrow win achieved against Catalonia on a 3-2 scoreline following a pulsating and dramatic conclusion to the World Cup in Andorra. Mark, who has represented both Bandon and Ballineen pitch and putt teams, crowned his first season in charge of the Ireland senior pitch and putt team with Team Ireland’s third successive triumph at the World Cup. He talks to John Bohane.

Appointed manager of the Ireland senior team only a few weeks prior to the start of the World Cup, Mark was thrilled to have played a role in their famous victory. “Winning the World Cup was an incredible achievement for Ireland especially as it was the third time in-a-row the team had secured World Cup glory. It is most definitely my greatest sporting moment so far, be it as a player or team mentor. It was a really special feeling when we beat Catalonia on a final scoreline of 3-2 in the final. I have to give special praise to all my coaching colleagues whose assistance was invaluable while the team members performed fantastically well over the course of the World Cup.

“To be involved as a manager with the Irish team is an incredible honour for both my family and myself; we are all pitch and putt enthusiasts and it plays a huge part in our lives. I got great support throughout the tournament from my family, it was great to return home triumphant.”

He boasts an impressive coaching resume; Mark established a formidable reputation as a proven and very distinguished coach following his successful managerial tenure with the various Cork inter-county pitch and putt teams with whom he led to a plethora of championship titles.

What does Mark feel are his greatest managerial characteristics? “I like to think I bring a lot of passion to any management role I take on. I also feel I offer a lot of experience and know how which I have amassed over the past ten years having being involved with the various Cork inter-county teams. We enjoyed a lot of success during our time with the Cork inter-county teams. We won 17 titles at senior gent, ladies and at U16 level. I can tend to get too involved and a bit over excited on occasion but that’s just my way and I don’t think my passion will diminish or I will change any time soon. As manager, one of my most important tasks is to take care of all the minor details, to ensure the players only have to focus on their game. Preparatory work is a key objective of mine. The players expect a professional approach and I enjoy meeting their requirements. We work well together.”

The West Cork native took up playing pitch and putt with Bandon Pitch and Putt Club in 1993. “I started playing with my local club in 1993. I loved the game instantly. I also played with Ballineen but I am now a proud member of Rocklodge in Carrigrohane. I never played for Ireland but I always enjoyed some modest success at club and open competitions. I have a fiercely competitive nature but my playing days have been somewhat restricted of late due to some knee problems. Team management is my way of achieving some measure of success from an international perspective.”

There are currently only eight clubs who are active in pitch and putt throughout West Cork. Pitch and Putt enjoyed a surge of popularity at the turn of the century but membership and participation in the sport has decreased in recent years. Mark is confident that Pitch and Putt has a bright future however and will thrive. “Things are looking up of late, as a whole new generation are taking up the game, which is very positive. Pitch and Putt will flourish all over Ireland with good and strong leadership from those at the top of the sport. Coupled with grassroots work done by clubs, people will be attracted back into the sport. At this moment in time, too many clubs sit back and do not actively seek membership ¬ this approach has to change and clubs must embrace a new way of thinking.”

Mark is lavish in his praise for the sport and the various benefits it offers to participants who take it up. The advantages of the sport are numerous, as he explains. “It is extremely cheap to play and it can be played by anyone from the age of eight up to 80 years of age. The main benefits are the low cost nature of the game. It is also not time-consuming, as one can play a round of 18 holes in an hour or less and anyone may play. I always encourage kids and their parents to get involved, as pitch and putt is a great pastime for the whole family to spend valuable time with one another.”

Mark hopes to be involved with the Ireland team when they defend their World Cup crown in two years time but his immediate focus now reverts back to inter-county action with the various Cork teams who he hopes to guide to success in the forthcoming Munster Championships.

Mark is also busy actively seeking ways to ensure the game continues to grow and develop. “My focus now turns to the Cork teams. We are bidding to retain our ladies and gents titles and win back the U16 title. I am the current chairman of the Cork Board. A lot of work is ongoing at present to keep the game strong. I am lucky to have a very good team behind me in my committee in Cork. We are trying to improve our sport for those that play at all levels.”

With Mark at the helm, Pitch and Putt appears destined to go from strength to strength.

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.
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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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