The late Francis Cunningham, captain of Narin and Portnoo Golf Club in 1994.
When in last week’s notes, I looked forward in light-hearted fashion to the Captains’ Drive-in, never did it occur to anyone that before the week was out, the club would have lost one of its finest members. The news that Francis Cunningham (or Francie as most golfers called him) had gone to his eternal reward was a shocking blow to anyone associated with the golf club, but most particularly to his family and friends. Only last week, he had purchased a new set of golf clubs in the Pro Shop and posted what proved to be his last results as Competition Secretary on the notice-board. He had only been in the job a matter of weeks, but with his cool efficiency, he had much preparation done for the golfing year ahead. Others must now carry the burden of what is an onerous task, but I know that Francie’s watchful and caring spirit will help to carry them through.
Francie was a relative newcomer to golf, with his first victory at the club coming in the Donal Whelan Memorial Cup of 1990. For a man who knew the Whelans well, it was a most poignant first success. Three further tournaments were won in that first year, an awesome run of success by anyone’s standards, with six shots removed from the earlier handicap of twenty. By the mid-nineties, Francie was in single figures, testament to the competitiveness and talent innate to the Straleel resident. Back to back victories in the Sweeney’s Hotel events in 1991 and 1992 helped continue the winning streak and I have found no less than 24 victories from 1990 to 2009. That final year saw Francie win a further three competitions, the last coming in the Killybegs G.A.A. stroke event in May. Francie also captained the Donegal League team along with Bart Whelan in the mid-nineties and I can still recall his encouraging words after he witnessed me hole out with a skittery six iron in a semi-final in Letterkenny when three down. We rallied to win, as did many teams that Francie captained, most notably in the Gaeltacht League, of which he was team captain for many years. The ultimate captaincy was bestowed on Francie in 1994 and he served the club with distinction, both home and away. A further stint as Handicap Secretary in 2008 demonstrated the energy of the man, as well as his commitment to his fellow members. Le bás Proinsias, tá laoch caillte againne agus ní fheicfidh muid a leithéid arís. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
The Captains’ Drive-in has been re-arranged for Saturday, March 13th at 10a.m. It was postponed last Saturday as a mark of respect to the late Francis Cunningham.
The club is hosting a fundraiser for Haiti on February 27th and we urge all members and visitors to support this worthy cause. Entrants to the single stableford can pay what they wish in entering the competition and both ladies and gents are invited to compete.
Sunday February 21: monthly medal, open
Wednesday February 24: Wednesday Open, ladies and gents, single stableford, 20 euro entry for G.U.I. visitors including green fee;
Saturday February 27: Special Haiti Fundraiser, Ladies & Gents, single stableford, voluntary contribution as entry fee, open
Saturday March 13: Captains’ Drive-in, Draw at 10a.m., shotgun start, ladies & gents, fourball scramble, open. The proceeds will be in aid of the Dungloe Hydropool.