Ballina Bridge Congress 2008

Ballina Bridge Congress is affiliated to the Contract Bridge Association of Ireland

Congress 2008: July 11th to 13th

Venue: Downhill House Hotel, Sligo Rd., Ballina, Co. Mayo.

Tel: +353 9621033 Email: URL:

Main Sponsor:

Ballina Beverages

Killala Rd., Ballina, Co. Mayo

The 32nd annual Ballina Bridge Congress took place in the Downhill House Hotel, Ballina from July 11th to 13th 2008. Congress President, Mr. Michael Walkin, welcomed everybody in his address and wished the Regional President, that great ambassador of Bridge Delia Meehan, a speedy recovery after her surgery. Delia and her partner Carrie have missed very few Bridge Congresses in Ballina and Michael also wished her well in her year as Regional President. The Mayor of Ballina, Cllr. Michelle Mulherin, welcomed the large gathering of card-players to the town and stated that in Bridge, like politics, you need the support of a good partner. She got that right! Mr. Martin Hayes, President of the CBAI, and a native of Tipperary, opened the Congress and wished the event every success.


Thirty nine pairs competed for the Kane Perpetual Trophy and prizes in the Mixed Pairs on Friday night. Maureen and Bob Pattinson (Ennis) had a percentage point to spare over Helen and Brendan Sheridan (Dublin) who finished 2nd. Marguerite Kilfeather and Fr. Tom Woods (Sligo) had two percentage points to spare over Marlene and Michael O'Connor (Galway) who finished in 4th place. Best Regional Pair were Dorothy Durkan (Ballyhaunis) and Richard Conway of Claremorris. Helen and Ray Norton (Castlebar) were the Best Mayo Pair, and Best Intermediate Pair were Pamela Gillanders and Jim O'Malley of Sligo.


A massive sixty-four pairs competed for the John Lowry Trophy in the Congress Pairs on Saturday, with Hugh McGann and Fiona Brown (England) taking the top prize at just under 64%. Bob and Maureen Pattinson (Ennis) were pipped for second place by Seán Ó'Lúbaigh and Paul Delaney (Dublin). Eric McNicholl and Bernie Sargent (Northern Ireland) finished 4th, 0.11% ahead of Leonieke Mevius and Norbert van Woerkom (Holland). Best Mayo Pair were Tom McNicholas and Cáit McTigue from Kiltimagh, while Marguerite Kilfeather and Fr. Tom Woods (Sligo) were also very popular winners of the Best Regional Prize. Alan and Heather Hill (Belfast) won the First Session prize and Ciarán and Cynthia Coyne (Dublin) were Second Session prize winners.


This competition attracted 42 pairs and was won by Rosaleen Keohane and Betty Gormley (Ballina) who finished at almost 60%, ahead of Paddy McKinley and Mai Mooney of Donegal who finished 2nd. Ann Gaffney and Pauline Burke were third, just ahead of Rosamund Jennings and Lynn Duffy of Galway. Tommy Banks and Frances Kelly won the Best Regional; Mary Mongan and Mary O'Dowd (Ballina) won Best Mayo, while Pamela Gillanders and Gladys Sheridan (Sligo) won First Session. Eileen O'Connor and Róisín Kilcoyne (Sligo) took the Second Session prize.


The TD, Fearghal O'Boyle, ably assisted by Mairéad Basquille, had a mammoth task in dealing with the huge number of teams, and was forced to close at 34 teams leaving a few teams who tried to enter late very disappointed. Even at 34, extra cards had to be dealt, and the robotic card-dealer was the centre of attraction at the end of the hall, ably manned (womanned?) by Eileen O'Connor and Mairéad Basquille -- one up for the Sligo ladies! The games progressed without a hitch, and by tea-time Alan and Heather Hill, Anne Fitzpatrick and Mary Madden were declared winners of this Coca Cola sponsored Team of Four Competition with a score of 136 and an average of 19.4 IMPs. Dennis Kruis, Norbert van Woerkom, Bert Kranenborg and Marty Tennant (Holland) were 2nd,  and one IMP behind the winners and 10 IMPs ahead of a second Dutch team of Llja Vd Velde, Marleen Nagel, Leonieke and Naayke Mevius who finished 3rd. Bob and Maureen Pattinson (Ennis) teamed up with Diarmuid Reddan and Louise Mitchell (Limerick) to take the 4th slot. Best Regional went to Tim Summerfield, Frances Walkin, Josie Cawley and Vincent McMahon of Ballina. Best Intermediate went to Mary Doherty, Des Doherty, Mai Mooney and Paddy McKinley, all Donegal and great supporters of the Ballina Bridge Congress down through the years.

Ballina Bridge Congress Open Pairs Results 2008   

Friday 11th July 08, Section A  Mitchell Movement

North / South

   1      R Keohane & B Gormley                                     66.59%                       

   2      Phil Clarke & Angela Riville                               63.64%    


East / West

   1     Ester Maloney & Peggy Foy                           62.73%                          

   2     John O Connor & Kelan O'Connor                59.09%  

Section B Mitchell Movement

North / South

   1    Roisin Kilcoyne & Pat Kilfeather                            62.00%                           

 2    Lily Diamond & Deirdre Flavin                                61.00%


East / West

   1    Vincent & Mary Brennan                                 67.31%                          

   2    Helen Ryan & Kathleen O'Reilly                      57.69%  

 Saturday 12th July 2008, 1st Session  Howell Movement

   1   Noel & Shelia Grimes                                              62.86%                          

   2   Margaret Nally & Maeve Hogge                               58.21%

   3   Ita Langan & Carmel Costello                                  57.14%                          

   4   Catherine Leavey & Helen Collins                            55.84% 

The Open Pairs competitions were played throught the Congress

 and were directed by John and Breda Mulkearns

Saturday 12th July 2008, 2nd Session Mitchell Movement

North / South

   1   Catherine Leavey & Helen Collins                             59.55%                          

   2   Ann Walsh & Maura Kilcoyne                                   57.27% 


East / West

   1   V McMahon & Josie Cawley                               63.41%                          

   2   Sadie Leonard & Anna Smith                              62.73%  

   Sunday July 13th 2008, 1st Session Mitchell Movement

North / South

   1    Kathleen McCay & Maureen Maher                          61.36%             

   2    Aileen Rafferty & Joan Donnellon                            58.41%     


East / West

   1    Eileen O'Connor & Tommy Banks                      57.05%                          

   2    Billy Murphy & Alice Kellet                                56.82%   

    Sunday July 13th, 2nd Session Howell

   1    Jim & Clare Doyle                                                   66.25%                          

   2    Helen Collins & Catherine Leavey                            62.92%                          

   3   James Kiernan & Bridie Sexton                                 62.50%                          

   4   Rosemary Isdell & Rita Molloy                                  60.98% 


Prizes awarded in the Open Pairs competitions: 1, 2 and 3 in the Howell

and 1 and 2 N/S and 1 and 2 E/W in the Mitchell. 



The venue for the Congress was the newly refurbished Downhill House Hotel and it proved to be an ideal location. The staff spared no effort to ensure a great weekend was had by their guests, many of whom booked accommodation for Congress 2009 which takes place from 24th to 26th July. Speaking of guests, members of Irish International Bridge Teams, past and present, appeared over the weekend and some are the richer for doing so! When Aidan Cleary first mooted the idea of a Bridge Congress in Ballina, with Moy salmon as prizes way back in 1975 few would have thought it would grow to its present status. A mini-congress was held back then, with Open Pairs on the Saturday and the equivalent of Congress Pairs on the Sunday. This first event was graced by John Cunningham, President CBAI, and the late great Laur Sheeran of "2 Diamonds response over 1NT showing exactly 11 HCP" fame. The idea may even have come to him in Ballina! If Aidan could be inspired in Ballina why shouldn't Laur? Aidan's inspiration came after returning from a Bridge Congress close to the River Nore with a flitch of bacon which was one of the prizes, and he thought that, as Ballina had a river which yielded a few thousand salmon each season, why not have salmon for prizes. The idea took root and the Congress grew until it celebrated 32 years in existence in July 2008. Aidan and Ena Cleary still come to the Ballina Bridge Congress each year, and although they did not take any major prize in 2008, they made some very valuable contributions to those who did!


No Bridge Congress can be a success without the assistance of those working quietly behind the scenes, especially in the area of getting sponsorship and taking entries. One could say that taking entries is straightforward, but it is not as simple as it sounds because pairing sometimes has to take place, and if it doesn't work out, there's nowhere to hide. "Where's the hand you held during the auction, Partner?" has been quoted by a stunned Declarer (playing with a strange partner) on seeing Dummy for the first time, or the one-word, "Amazing!" stated with a cutting tone, eyes out on stalks, in a like situation. Full credit to Ann Freeman, Congress Secretary and Josie Cawley, Entries Secretary for the manner in which they discharge their duties. Betty Gormley is an able Treasurer and manages the finances to the last cent. What can we say about Anthony Kilcullen? Anthony's organisational skills are phenomenal and his enthusiasm is matched by very few, if at all, in any other organisation. Preparing a hall for a Bridge Congress is a major task but the job gets done, without any fuss, thanks to Anthony. Fearghal O'Boyle and Mairéad Basquille work like a dream partnership at tournament directing, while John and Breda Mulkearns direct the Open Pairs without a glimmer of dissent from anybody. It's probably that all four have such disarming smiles as well as having the skills and knowledge for the task.

Left to right: Mr. Michael Walkin, President Ballina Bridge Congress; Audrey Robinson, Coca Cola, Team of Four Sponsor; Ann Freeman, Congress Secretary; Mr. Martin Hayes, President CBAI 2008-2009; Betty Gormley, Congress Treasurer; Josie Cawley, Entries Secretary and Vincent McMahon, Committee.

Fearghal O'Boyle, TD

Mairéad Basquille, TD

John and Breda Mulkearns, TDs

Mr. Tim Summerfield, on left, with Mr. Michael Walkin, President Ballina Bridge Congress, Audrey Robinson, Coca Cola, Team of Four Sponsor; Mr. Martin Hayes, President CBAI 2008-2009; and Tim's team members: Vincent McMahon, Frances Walkin and Josie Cawley, Best Regional Team


Mr. Michael Walkin, President Ballina Bridge Congress, Audrey Robinson, Coca Cola, Team of Four Sponsor; Des Doherty, Mary Doherty, Mai Mooney and Paddy McKinley, Best Intermediate Team of Four; Mr. Martin Hayes, President CBAI 2008-2009


Mr. Michael Walkin, President Ballina Bridge Congress, Audrey Robinson, Coca Cola, Team of Four Sponsor; Mr. Martin Hayes, President CBAI 2008-2009; Louise Mitchell and Diarmuid Reddan, 4th in Team of Four. Absent: Bob and Maureen Pattinson


Mr. Michael Walkin, President Ballina Bridge Congress, Audrey Robinson, Coca Cola, Team of Four Sponsor; Mr. Martin Hayes, President CBAI 2008-2009; with Mary Madden, Alan and Heather Hill and Anne Fitzpatrick, Team of Four Winners

Mr. Michael Walkin, President Ballina Bridge Congress, Audrey Robinson, Coca Cola, Team of Four Sponsor; Mr. Martin Hayes, President CBAI 2008-2009; The Dutch Team 1


Mr. Michael Walkin, President Ballina Bridge Congress, Audrey Robinson, Coca Cola, Team of Four Sponsor; Mr. Martin Hayes, President CBAI 2008-2009; The Dutch Team 2


Mr. Michael Walkin, President Ballina Bridge Congress; Rosaleen Keohane and Betty Gormley, Winners Intermediate Pairs 08; Mr. Martin Hayes, President CBAI 2008-2009

Left: Mr. Michael Walkin, President Ballina Bridge Congress, and Mary Gilvarry, Vice-President;  Mr. Martin Hayes, President CBAI 2008-2009 is flanked by Mary Mongan and Mary O'Dowd, Best Mayo Intermediate Pair; Ann Freeman, Congress Secretary

Hugh McGann, Congress Pairs Winner (with Fiona Brown), thanking the Ballina Bridge Congress Committee and the TDs.

Alan Hill, captain Team of Four Winners, thanks everybody, especially Fearghal the TD, and Josie Cawley for personally inviting their team to Ballina