21st May, 2012

15th Annual Texas Irish American Cup Challenge

Our 15th tournament saw the Waterford Crystal Celtic Harp won by the American team of Patrick Bolin and the Celtic Shootout won by Don and his son Ryan, truly a day to remember.  Well known and respected former football star and current NFL on Fox sports analyst Daryl Johnston, very kindly donated his time to provide the color commentary for the final four.  Special thanks to our sponsors Aer Lingus and JetBlue, Jameson Whiskey, Invest Northern Ireland, Shannon Development, Bill Sullivan, Niall O'Connor of Apple, Terry Cross of Château de la Ligne, Jim Vincent, the Kennedy brothers, and Susan Morrice of Belize Natural Energy.

Once again, Tommy Gallagher brought the Irish together for a tremendous tournament.  And what would the tournament gala be without our Co-Chairs Michelle Anderson and Kevin Hanrahan.  The exquisite table decorations rendered everyone speechless.

Ten American and ten Irish teams teed off on the 14th hole at 3:30 pm on Monday, May 21st to determine who would represent their respective countries three hours later on hole #18.  For the Americans Jim Graham and Art Harding won #17 with a chip off after tying with pars.  For the Irish, Mark Roden and David Hargaden won #17 also with a chip off after tying with double bogies.

On hole #18 Mark’s tee shot found the fairway but Art ended up in the right rough.  David had the misfortune of hitting their second shot into the water resulting in a 6.  Jim was able to get Art’s tee shot around the green and the Americans won with a bogey 5.  This gives the Americans 4 wins in a row and leads the series now 9 to 6.  Better luck to the Irish next year!

A total of eight teams participated in the Celtic Shootout which commenced on the 16th hole.  The three-hole shootout came down to Don and Ryan Hanratty against John Lark and Frank Guidone.  After both teams safely negotiated the tee shots, Ryan Hanratty placed the team’s second shot 20 feet from the hole for birdie.  The Lark and Guidone pairing missed the green with their approach and failed to get the ball up and down.  The Hanrattys would later two putt from 20 feet for the par, and took the victory in the Celtic Shootout.

CEO Kieran McLoughlin, on behalf of The Worldwide Ireland Funds, presented retiring Regional Director Netta Blanchard with the illustrious Bird and Bell Award, unique to The Ireland Funds and first created in 1978. This award is in recognition for the outstanding contributions that she has made over the years to The American Ireland Fund.  Recipients of the award include President Mary McAleese, Sir Anthony O'Reilly, Seamus Heaney, Sir Peter Ustinov, Mo Mowlan, Dan Rooney, and Liam Neeson.   Netta Blanchard also received the prestigious Perot McKillop Irish Spirit Award culminating in a serenade by Howard Crosby of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”.