Junior Challenge aimed at nurturing local talent

Winners of The Down Junior Challenge, Sean Ryan (Warrenpoint GC), Katie Poots (Knock GC), Danny 'Williamson (Mourne GC), Molly O'Hara (Clandeboye GC), Johnny Napier (Scrabo GC) and Aine Curren (Royal County Down GC) alongside Rory McIlroy
Winners of The Down Junior Challenge, Sean Ryan (Warrenpoint GC), Katie Poots (Knock GC), Danny 'Williamson (Mourne GC), Molly O'Hara (Clandeboye GC), Johnny Napier (Scrabo GC) and Aine Curren (Royal County Down GC) alongside Rory McIlroy

With the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open taking place in Newcastle, there was a great opportunity to create a legacy event aimed at introducing and maintaining juvenile interest in golf in the area.

And with the assistance of the event organisers Match Play Media, the inaugural Down Junior Challenge has performed that role.

Opened for qualifying to all golf clubs in the County, the Down Junior Challenge is a concept developed by Newry, Mourne & Down District Council and run in conjunction with The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, hosted by The Rory Foundation.

Event qualifying took place over participating courses in the county between March and May 2015 with over 450 participants in total.

The age category winners (boy and girl) from each venue took part in the Grand Final at Ardglass Golf Club on Monday 25th May 2015.

Qualification was under three age categories; 7-10 years, 10-13 years and 13-16 years with a boy and girl qualifying under each age group to take part in the Grand Final.

There were six overall winners at the Grand final – a boy and girl winner under each age category.

First, second and third placed winners of the Grand Final received trophies with the overall boy and girl winners of each age category also receiving tickets to attend the Pro-Am day (with a parent/ guardian) at The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and an opportunity to meet with the world number one.

Speaking about the competition, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Cllr Naomi Bailie said: “The Council was delighted to work in partnership with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, the Rory Foundation and Ardglass Golf Club to offer budding golfers the opportunity to compete in the one-day Youth Legacy Tournament at the stunning links course in Ardglass.

“I am delighted that young sportspeople from our district were offered this wonderful chance to compete and by hosting this competition we demonstrated their support to building the legacy from this world-class global event.

“There was an overwhelming response and I’m confident our six winners will have a bright future ahead of them. Thanks go to Rory for taking the time out of his busy schedule to meet with the winners.”

In other news, England’s Richard Partridge held off a thrilling final-round charge from Cork’s Tom Cleary to capture the Irish Seniors Amateur Open title at Roscommon.

Cleary turned in three under, but Partridge held firm, and even a double-bogey at the par-four 14th did not deter him from his course as he calmly parred the final four holes for a two-shot victory.

Bangor’s Garth McGimpsey finished third after a 72, while Mick Ahern (Skerries), Maurice Kelly (Killeen) and David Lane (England) won the over-60, over-65 and over-70 categories respectively.