2015 National Ladies Matchplay Preview

How the 32 strong Ladies field shapes up ahead of this weekend

2015 National Ladies Matchplay Preview  image

WHILE its 50 years of history for Lakeside this weekend in the hosting of the National Matchplay Championships, 35 years (1980, going back to the year the first of the former champions won her first title) and 26 titles (the combined total of the titles won by the previous winners in the field) are the more appropriate numbers when it comes to the Ladies Championship writes Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor. 


THERE are nine present and former winners amongst the 2015 field for the National Ladies Matchplay. Breda Lonergan broke down big barriers for the Munster players last year in becoming the first Lady from the province in 23 years to win the Elvery Cup after Douglas’ Norma O’Brien’s success back in 1991. In starting off proceedings this year, Breda will have to contend with the home club support for her opponent Martha O’Brien, but after her win last year in Parteen, she certainly won’t be overawed by the challenge.


            Bar Eleanor Walsh (1988 winner), all the other former winners in action this weekend are from the Eastern province with the 2012 runner-up from Fermoy facing National Seniors Intermediate Strokeplay Champion Betty Cody of Loughlinstown, the recent runner-up in the Leinster Intermediate Matchplay. Much like the defending champion, Ger Ward begins her bid for a 10th Matchplay title with a match against a Lakeside player in the form of Lily O’Brien. Lily will be the overwhelming underdog against Portmarnock’s finest but local knowledge might prolong the game more than some would expect. Dubliner Helen Greagsbey will face a similar uphill task in taking on Chrissie Byrne, especially considering the St Bridgets player’s recent victory in the Leinster Senior Matchplay but a lack of expectancy may see the Fairview CY player perform well against one of the games finest.


            Margaret Hogan’s story with this competition goes all the way back to 1980, when she won the first of her five titles. She faces an interesting challenge in the First Round this year in the form of 1996 National Strokeplay Champion and recent runner-up to Chrissie Byrne in the Leinster Matchplay, Rose Kelly of Ryston. 2009 winner Tracey McGrath returns to proceedings after a year’s sabbatical from the event in 2014. She faces another player returning to the competition this year in the form of Lucan’s Linda Thomson. After missing out at the second playoff hole in last year’s decider in Parteen, Tara Dillon’s bid to go one better and try and claim a second title begins with a match with her Kildare Inter-County team-mate Mairead O’Toole of Poulaphouca.


2015 marks the 10th anniversary of Marian Byrne’s third Matchplay title win. She finds herself with a tricky First Round match in the form of National Intermediate Strokeplay Champion Mary Donnelly of Ryston, a player she stood alongside last year in winning the Inter-County with Kildare. 1983 winner Sheelagh Elmes of Portmarnock travels down to Templemore meanwhile for a match against Patricia Murphy from the Ranges club meanwhile. That match is the third of the First Round with Siobhan McDonnell (Lucan) vs. Patricia Edwards (Fairview CY) the second match of the day. Other matches in the top half of the draw include Sarah Byrne from Fermoy taking on Leinster Strokeplay Champion Phil Condron of Lucan and an all Munster clash between Mary Murray of Rocklodge and Bruff’s Margaret O’Donovan.


The bottom half meanwhile sees an all Leinster match between Laytown’s Ann Bird and Siobhan Keely of RGSC, another one in the form Old’s County Pauline Balfe taking on St Bridgets Margaret Keogh while Gaeil Colmcille’s Noreen Myles plays Ballinlough’s Paula Nolan in an Interprovincial match. The other First Round tie is an all Dublin affair as last year’s Irish captain Maree O’Toole of Shandon takes on Glenda Hoey of RGSC in a northside/southside battle down in the country’s midlands.


A return to Leinster dominance will be expected come the conclusion of proceedings on Monday afternoon. However with the glass ceiling having been broken by a Munster player last year, will the rest of the province’s entrants feel they having a genuine chance of winning another title for the province in another Munster course?


Tomorrow: We preview the Gents competition.