39 Ladies have entered for Sunday’s Senior Strokeplay Championships in Ringcommons. Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor assesses how it might all pan out come the conclusion of proceedings.
THERE is one thing likely dominating a lot of people’s thoughts in advance of Sunday. That being whether or not it will be a crowning glory on a magnificent year thus far at Irish Singles level for St Bridgets’ Chrissie Byrne? She already has done the double in Leinster (Matchplay and Strokeplay) along with winning the National Matchplay title and a fourth National Strokeplay title would be a lot of seasoned observers predictions in advance, especially after her strong winning margin in the Leinster Strokeplay. The peculiar thing however about Chrissie’s year so far is that the only big titles that she has missed out on in 2015 so far are the two County Titles out Lilywhite direction.
Her sister Marian got the better of her by a stroke in the Kildare Strokeplay while Tara Dillon’s victory over her in the Kildare Matchplay last weekend will give the others hope in stopping the Kilcullen machine but it still is a big ask for all concerned on Chrissie’s present form. The fact she is out in the first pairing means that she will have the opportunity to set the pace overall. Tara herself will take confidence from that win; a National success would not be begrudged to the St Bridgets player considering how close she’s come in both Strokeplay and Matchplay in recent times. Her 64 hole marathon with Ger Ward in Fermoy last year won’t be forgotten by those who witnessed it but in the end it was Portmarnock’s finest that emerged victorious to win her 16th National Singles title across both formats. Ger was the recent winner of the Dublin Senior Strokeplay in Lucan following a second place finish to Chrissie at the Leinster Strokeplay in Bagenalstown and she might benefit from the fact she is coming in under the radar with Chrissie’s dominance thus far in 2015.
When one looks back at the 2011 staging here, it was a St Bridgets 1-2-3 with Chrissie leading home her sister Marian and Tara. In terms of some of the names that might stop a further St Bridgets lockout, Tipperary Hills’ Breda Lonergan will hope to follow up her Munster Strokeplay success in Fermoy last month and a third place finish in this competition last year. Fermoy’s own Eleanor Walsh (who was second to Breda in Fermoy) is the Cork Strokeplay Champion at this level this year with Offaly’s Margaret Hogan the other County Strokeplay Champion amongst the field. Erry’s Tracey McGrath enters on the back of a third place finish in the Leinster Strokeplay. Her counterpart in finishing third in Munster meanwhile was Lakeside’s Martha O’Brien who is also entered for this Sunday.
In terms of the host club, they have two entries for Sunday, two Maries in that in both Marie Shiels and Marie Sweetman representing Ringcommons while going back to the last time the event was held here in 2011, Old County’s Pauline Balfe will have happy memories of returning to Sunday’s venue as it was here she won her Intermediate title back in 2011. Last year’s winner of the Intermediate title in Fermoy, Mary Donnelly from Ryston is entered alongside her sister Rose Kelly who had a good run to the Leinster Matchplay Final back in May before she lost out to Chrissie in the decider.
It is encouraging to see entries from the likes of former winners Ann Hall (Kilbeggan) and Marina O’Rourke (Cloghogue) along with former National Girls Strokeplay winner Barbara Furlong (Lucan). Another two players to look out for this weekend include last year’s fourth place finisher Maree O’Toole (Shandon) while Sheelagh Elmes of Portmarnock will also be hoping for a good showing following her recent run to the semi-finals of the National Matchplay in Lakeside.
Will a new name come to the fore this weekend? It’s hard to see at the outset but it’s certainly something that would be welcome in terms of shaking up the order at senior level in the Ladies game.
We wish the just under 100 entries for this weekend’s play on Saturday and Sunday the very best of luck. Updates will be available on the PPUI website throughout the weekend.