Wednesday 24 March 2010

FORE Ireland Extends Services

The FORE Ireland team have launched a new website whichhighlights the additional services the team will provide this year and the extended areas of activity.

FORE Ireland was formed in 2009 by Irish PGA players, Michael Collins, Ted Higgins Jnr, David Mortimer and Mark Staunton with a view to preparing better for the European Tour Qualifying School.

In 2010 FORE Ireland team has added Irish PGA members for the new season including Philip Walton who has represented Ireland at every level both Amateur and Professional. Last year Michael Collins reached the Qualifying School Stage 2 in Arcos Gardens in Jerez last November and missed the cut by three shots for the final stage in PGA Catalunya. In the Irish Order of Merit Collins finished in eighth place and secured a place in the 3 Irish Open in Killarney later this year. Collins also finished 40th in the 2009 PGA EUROPRO Tour Order of Merit.

Mark Staunton participated in Stage 1 of 2009 Qualifying School but did not make it further and is now focussed on progressing further this season. On the EUROPRO Tour Order of Merit Staunton finished in 67th place and also secured 13th place in the Irish PGA Order of Merit last season. In the Irish PGA Order of Merit David Mortimer finished 20th with Ted Higgins in 31st place.Neither player competed in the 2009 European Tour Qualifying School. 

Philip Walton played for Great Britain & Ireland in the Walker Cup in 1981 and 1983 before turning professional in 1983. At professional level Walton has represented Ireland in the 1990 Alfred Dunhill Cup and the World Cup in 1995. On the European Tour Philip Walton won three titles including the Peugeot Open de France, the Murphy’s English Open and the Catalonia Open the same year.

In 1995 at Oakhill in the United States Philip Walton secured the win for Europe in the 1995 Ryder Cup when playing against Jay Haas in the penultimate singles, he two putted the final green for a very memorable win. Walton finished 21st in the 2009 Irish PGA Order of Merit. The objective of FORE Ireland is to support Irish golfers fulfil their playing aspirations at all levels including the European Tour and the Seniors Tours. The FORE Ireland players have embraced the team concept as they benefit from shared playing experiences and competing in events together. 

The team currently has a panel of players working on a range of playing objectives.

Friday 12 March 2010

Lyon Stun Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu

The bad news of the shock defeat of Real Madrid in the last sixteen of the Champions League at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night by Olympiqie Lyonnais, will only be made worse if the current holders Barcelona retain the trophy in the 2010 final on Saturday May 22nd. If the Catalan club were to do so it would occur at the home of Real Madrid, the Santiago Bernabeu stadium

Indeed it was such ironies that loomed most large in the main pages of Spanish Sports Daily Marca in their post match reports and opinion columns on Thursday following the exit of Real Madrid

For the sixth consecutive season the Madrid team exited the tournament short of the quarter finals with their last victory now as far as back as 2002 in Hampden Park. On that night it was the magic of Zinedine Zidane that turned the game against Bayer Leverkusen and secured the Spanish Champions 9th title. Since that May night Real Madrid have failed to reach the quarter finals for six successive seasons and the last time the club even reached that stage was the 2004 season.

Since the departure of Vicente del Bosque in 2003 the club has failed to reach the final of the Champions League and secured only two La Liga titles in the intervening years.

In his four seasons in charge Del Bosque managed the club through its most successful spell in modern history, steering the club to two UEFA Champions League titles in 2000 and 2002, two domestic La Liga titles in 2001 and 2003, a Spanish Supercup in 2001, a UEFA Super Cup in 2002, the Intercontinental Cup in 2002. Not since the great Madrid sides of the 1950s and 1960s did the club experience so much success.

Over the past seven years the club has hired nine managers with the latest being Manuel Pellegrini who replaced Bernd Schuster a year ago.

His success with the lesser resources at Villarreal attracted the attention of the Real Madrid Club President, Florentino Perez, as he set off a new "Project" in the 2009/10 season to re-establish Real Madrid at the forefront of European football. With the recruitment of Brazilian Kaka from Milan, Ronaldo from Manchester United, Lyon's Benzema, Xabi Alonso and Arbeloa from Liverpool, Real Madrid racked a bill of two hundred and fifty million just on players. When UEFA granted the Champions League final to the Santiago Bernabeu stadium the club then began to feel it was their destiny to secure their 10th title.

But on a cold Wednesday night in Madrid a stubborn Olympique Lyonnais confronted the big names of Real Madrid and brought that sense of destiny to a sudden halt.

With a vigour that highlighted that the French League may be a force at Champions League level and with the aim of reaching the quarterfinals for the first time in four seasons, Lyon’s determination in Madrid was evident from the start of the second half. With Guti the main playmaker for Real throughout the first forty-five minutes the two personnel changes made by Lyon's little known manger, Claude Puel, proved key.

From the moment Sweden's Kim Kallstrom and Frenchman Maxine Gonalons entered the fray at half time the easy flowing pace of the game changed and the balance of power in favour of the home side ebbed away as the second half progressed.

With two goal chances wasted in the first half Real Madrid then started to struggle and the more industrious Lyon midfield caused the Spanish side to lose their offensive shape and left defending their own goal for large sections of the second half. As time ticked away fear spread through the Spanish team as they knew that a solitary goal by Lyon would end their chances of progress. As each attack was mounted the endless running by Cesar Delgado up front for the French side increased the sense of siege that hushed the home crowd.

When the goal finally came from Pjanic on seventy five minutes a sense of despair took hold at the Santiago Bernabeu and the Madrid fans began to face the reality that there might not be a tenth title this year on home soil.

Despite two late changes for Madrid, Raul for Kaka and Van der Vaart for Granero, Real were unable to breach Lloris goal and the Lyon side defended with commitment in the dying minutes. As the final whistle loomed the Real Madrid players sensed the inevitable as did the fans, many of whom left in their hundreds ahead of full time.

In the post match analysis it was left to veteran Guti to summarise the reality without subtlety.

"It was a shame. It has been shown that in big games we do not kill the matches," said the long-serving midfielder of the 1-1 first knockout round draw at the Santiago Bernabéu which helped Lyon through 2-1 overall. "The solution is to be more of a team instead of many individuals. Now we can only think of La Liga, which is what we have [left]. We did not start the second half as we should."

“It is the sixth year in a row we have gone out at the last sixteen stage. It is really devastating. Every year it is just as painful and disappointing.”

Claude Puel, Lyon coach
It's a great achievement, especially considering how the game started. We escaped a disaster in the first half. The early goal lifted Madrid's confidence and put us on the back foot. That meant the first half was tough, and half-time was too. [Jean-Alain] Boumsong and [Jean II] Makoun had to be substituted with groin injuries, and Lisandro also had a problem but he was able to last the whole game. The substitutes were key, they did a fine job. We changed the system and totally reshuffled the team. Mire [Pjanić] moved up to support Lisandro and that made us more fluid. On top of that, he scored the goal.

“The first leg was good and we did the same job in the second leg. We were in trouble as they played quickly from deep, and had a bit of luck when they hit the post. We changed the system in the second half and played ten metres higher as Madrid were tiring having produced lots of effort before the break. We were more fluid, there was more quality in our game. We could play wider and made them run as they enjoy having the ball at their feet. When you look at the second half, we deserved to go through. This squad is writing its own story. We must now go on.”

Manuel Pellegrini, Madrid coach
“The first responsibility is mine, but we have to overcome this blow and keep fighting for the Liga title. It is a very big setback. We played well in the first half but had two chances and failed to convert them. After the break the team were growing anxious until the Lyon goal came. It was a dream for all of us to play the final at the Bernabéu. The players are hurt by a painful elimination, but we have to lift our mood and keep working. That's all I can do; keep working. It's a big blow but we must look ahead.”

Wednesday 3 March 2010

David Mortimer Secures a Strong Finish

Courtesy of INPHO

European Tour players Peter Lawrie and Damien McGrane took the honours in Des Smyth’s president’s prize at the final outing of the Links Golfing Society at Royal Dublin last week.

Second to Lawrie was FORE Ireland’s David Mortimer with a 72, and Frank Leonard from Knightsbrook a shot further back on 73. Jim Carvill (Warrenpoint), off plus one, was best of a trio on 74 that included Jude Doyle from St Anne’s and local Joe Enright, off eight.

McGrane’s 69 in the gross was three clear of Ashbourne’s John Dwyer, with Eamonn Brady from Clontarf on 73. Stuart Taylor from The Island took fourth place from Gary Cullen from Beaverstown, and Robert Giles from Greenore after all three finished on 74.

David Mortimer and Enright also figured in the team prize with Tony Diamond on an eight-under-par 64. Pat O’Brien from Laytown and Bettystown won the gross in the over 50s, with Terry Lilly from Slade Valley taking the nett.

Fore Ireland was created earlier last season to support Irish professional and amateur golfers fulfil their ultimate ambitions, which in some instances is playing on the European Tour. By introducing a team element and a sense of camaraderie in what is an individual sport, the players work together towards reaching their objective, which each believe has been helped dealing with the challenges.

In 2009 the players with FORE Ireland include Michael Collins, David Mortimer, Mark Staunton and Ted Higgins Jnr.

For further information on the players go to