As 100 Juveniles get set to descend on Navan this weekend for the National Juvenile Strokeplay Championships, Communications and Press Officer Jason O’Connor looks ahead firstly to Saturday’s Boys and Girls Championships.
FOR the last four years the Eugene McCarthy Cup has rested at two opposite ends of the Pitch & Putt spectrum in both Louth’s Channonrock (Shane Redmond 2010 and 2012) and Kerry’s Deerpark (Creagh Courtney 2011 and Conor McCarthy 2013). That’s a great credit to the state of the Juvenile game in both counties but this year’s Provincial Strokeplay results offer a big indication that the big Pitch & Putt centres are starting to flex their muscles again at Juvenile level. Dublin and Cork dominated the prizes the 14-15 section of the Leinster and Munster Strokeplays and Ross O’Reilly (Old County) and Conor Irwin (Douglas) will be buoyed on by their respective wins in McBride and Tipperary Hills two weeks ago.
After missing out to Conor McCarthy in a nine-hole playoff at Raffen Creek (then Pfizer) last year, Majestic’s Edward Walsh will be hoping to go one better on this occasion. Having missed out on Tipperary Hills it will be interesting to see how he fares with club-mate Greg Barrett and another Douglas player Cian Morrison also likely to be in contention for top honours. Ciaran Gregan (Portmarnock) and Craig Hennessy (Longmeadows) are another two of the Dublin contingent to look out for with Meath no doubt hoping that home advantage will spring a success for the Royal County. The host club have four participants in Saturday’s proceedings namely Ryan Crocock, Liam Carroll, Conor Doyle and Jason Gibney and local knowledge will surely help them feature on the leader board. Bellewstown’s Luke Heeney and Castletown’s Evan Carry will be another two players worth watching, the latter being the recent winner of the Leinster Boys 10-13 Strokeplay.
Kerry’s hopes appear to rest with the Deerpark trio of Michael Cronin, Stephen McCarthy and Sean Courtney, the latter duo with big shoes to fill following their older brothers successes in recent years. In all there are 10 counties represented in Saturday’s field with Kildare, Limerick, Louth, Offaly, Tipperary and Westmeath all having players entered besides the players from the aforementioned counties. It’s an encouraging sign for the game at underage level and hopefully all players will come away from this weekend enthused to carry on the game into the future.
It’s always hard to predict the outcome of this event, new faces emerging each year make form a very hard thing to judge but we are at least guaranteed a new name on the Cup this year whichever one of the 91 players it will be. Unlike the other National Singles Championships this is contested over 36 holes with the margin for error very slight indeed.
NINE Girls are entered for this year’s proceedings in Navan with 2012 winner Amy Galvin from Tullamore the standout name on the entry sheet. After retaining her Girls 14-15 title in Leinster she will be heavily fancied to regain the title she lost to Claycastle’s Una Brosnan last year. Lucan’s Aoife Mahon and Collins’ Niamh Byrne (the other two Girls winners at the recent Provincial Strokeplays) will be hoping to try and stop her with Aoife’s Lucan club-mates Molly McCarthy and Eimear Keane also likely to take encouragement from being in the prizes at the recent Leinsters in McBride. With Niamh being Munster’s only representative in the competition, Seapoint will make up the other four entrants in this competition namely Emily and Sarah Murphy along with Bethany Collier and Abigail Ward. Emily was amongst the prize-winners in McBride two weeks ago.
Neutral territory will make proceedings very even but Amy Galvin has a unique opportunity on Saturday in attempting to become the 10th multiple winner of the National Girls title. She would join some illustrious names like Eleanor Walsh, Barbara Farrell, Anita Langstone, Marian Byrne, Bernadette Coffey, Tracey McGrath, Sarah Coffey, Elaine Dee and Claire Keatinge should she manage to pull off such a feat.
Tomorrow we look ahead to the battle for the National Juvenile Inter-County Championship on Sunday and where the Tommy Murphy Cup might be heading in 2014.
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