Showing promise in the swing

Longford teenager Sean Flanagan is fast becoming a star in the underage golfing scene.

Longford teenager Sean Flanagan is fast becoming a star in the underage golfing scene.

The 17-year-old Ballymahon Mercy student who shares his green time between both Longford and Sligo Golf Clubs, has competed in some of the most prestigious amateur competitions, including the Barton Cup, the Fred Daly Open Championship and the tournament which catapulted Rory McIlroy on his way to world number one spot - the West of Ireland Championship.

Although currently receiving his education in County Longford and living in Abbeycartron in the centre of Longford town, Sean plays most of his golf in his father’s home town of Rosses Point, a popular golfing resort on the north west coast of County Sligo.

“I play for Longford in the Barton Cup, but my Dad is from Rosses Point in Sligo so he brings me down there to play most of the time. I also need to play in Sligo to keep my place on the Connacht team. It’s a better standard down there and it’s where I’ve played since I was 12.”

Not to forget about his home county, Sean is a member of and represents Longford Golf Club in the Barton Cup, a 107-year-old tournament which includes only clubs from Leinster. He also uses the driving range at the club as a training base.

“I go down three or four times a week to the club on the Dublin Road to practice a few shots so it keeps my game sharp.”

Sean’s passion for the game is something that really runs in his blood. His father Kevin is a former team manager and captain of the Irish Senior Amateur team.

Following in his footsteps, Sean represented his country at the Home Internationals in Ballintray Golf Club in County Louth and is hoping to be selected for the upcoming Irish U-18 panel to face France next year.

“We went up against England, Wales and Scotland (in Louth) but we really didn’t play well enough as a team. I managed to register two and half points which is decent but nothing fantastic.”

Having already attended the first of four international coaching sessions in Carton House, Sean will find out if he makes the squad for the France game in late March/early April. This game is part of the Irish team’s preparation for the European Championships which will take place in Spain soon after.

“I’ve been attending coaching sessions and the first session went well”, he says. “I’ll find out if I’m on the team around Easter time so hopefully it will be good news.”

Sean also took part in this year’s West of Ireland Championship in Rosses Point and performed well enough to enter the competition in the latter rounds.

He explains: “I started out as a ball watcher around morning time. At lunch, the tournament co-ordinator told me I was on the reserve list to take part and I had a chance of getting in. After another hour I was told I was second on the reserve list and I was entered into the fourth last group as I had qualified 63rd out of 64 competitors. I beat the second leading qualifier and got to the last 16 but was beaten by Rory McNamara from Headford in Kildare.”

With exams in the shape of the Leaving Certificate on the horizon in just over and year-and-a-half, the Abbeycarton teen knows his favourite past-time may have to take a back seat in the near future.

“I’ll probably give the golf a rest next year for a while when I’m doing it (the Leaving Cert) but I’ll be back the year after.”