AS has been the way for nearly two decades now, 80 Seniors will do battle on Sunday for the Donnelly Cup at the National Gents Strokeplay in Tullamore. Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor takes a look at how it all might pan out this August Bank Holiday Sunday.
IN contrast to Saturday, things should be a lot more fast paced on Sunday with two balls in operation and play split across two sessions from 8.30am until lunchtime when the last pairing is due to tee-off for the initial 36 holes.
CUSTUME’S Martin Kenny (third place finisher at the Leinster Strokeplay Championships last month) will get us underway on Sunday morning alongside Liam Myers from St Annes. However it won’t be long until the defending champion begins the defence of his title as John Walsh tees off in the third pairing alongside Joe McGrath Jnr from Erry. The Irish No 1 was unsuccessful in his bid for a third consecutive National Matchplay title in Seapoint but a playoff win in the Munster Strokeplay in St Annes along with a successful part in Ireland’s World Cup success in Andorra should increase his confidence about winning the Donnelly Cup for the third time. His Irish team-mate and the man who beat him in the First Round in Seapoint, Eamon Gibney will tee-off in the fourth last pairing in this session alongside Collinstown’s John Browne.
Arguably the most interesting pairing in this session is that of National Matchplay winner Shane Murphy and Leinster Strokeplay Champion from last month in Collinstown, namely Keith Redmond of Lucan. Neither should be lacking confidence after their achievements in the last two months. Shane of course has an Intermediate win to his name going back to 2011 in Douglas but will expect to contend strongly this weekend after missing out on the playoff last year in Cunnigar. There are four other former winners of the Donnelly Cup in this session with Ray Murphy’s four victories standing head and shoulders above the rest. Murphy will tee-off with Ryston’s Darren Keogh while two time winner and reigning European Strokeplay Champion Liam O’Donovan is also in action in this session. Anthony Malone is the other former winner in the first session and he will have fellow Dubliner Jim Judge Jnr of Erins Isle as his playing partner for the first 36. William Buckley Jnr of Erry will have fond memories of the 2003 staging of the event at this venue as emerged victorious after a nine hole playoff with Frank Dineen. He hopes to take a trip back down memory lane when he tees off with Collinstown’s John McDonald.
Another former National Intermediate Strokeplay Champion is this session is Listowel’s Declan McCarron as he tees off with Old County’s Stephen Murray. Liam O’Donovan’s predecessor as European Strokeplay Champion Ian Farrelly also tees off in this session with Tralee’s Tony Blake as two time Irish Open winner and former National Matchplay Champion Damien Fleming of Deerpark tees off with Lucan’s John Price. Jimmy Scanlon will be the only one of the Tullamore contingent to tee-off in this session as he tees off alongside Collinstown’s Alan Hanlon.
Those on the cutline will have an anxious wait to see if they will be involved in the extra 18 holes later on in the day!
PAUL Tobin of St Patricks and Old County’s Shane Redmond will get us underway in the second session as this is where a lot more of the local eyes are likely to be fixed on with four from the host club teeing off here. Michael Byrne is the first of these teeing off with Riverdale’s John O’Meara with the other three players from the hosts feature in the last six pairings. Darren O’Connell will tee-off with Raffeen Creek’s Barry Morrissey, Joseph O’Gorman will play with Cloghogue’s Kevin Thompson while Lakeside’s Noel Leahy will partner Martin Hoctor for the initial 36 holes.
There are three former winners of the event in this session starting off with Lucan’s David Hayden (1987) as he plays with Cunnigar’s John Carroll with 2001 winner John Cahill teeing off alongside Erins Isle’s Paul Nolan and Bryan Delaney (winner in Tralee in 2009) playing with William Hudson of St Patricks. Delaney will hope that his luck might change in some way after coming close to the National and Munster Matchplay along with the recent Munster Strokeplay only to be denied on each occasion by a certain John Walsh.. John Ross Crangle is in much the same category as Delaney in a National sense after many close shaves along the way in both the Matchplay and Strokeplay codes. Keith Redmond managed to get the better of him over an extra nine holes in the Leinster Strokeplay but he won’t be thinking too far ahead of teeing off with Athgarvan’s Jason Meehan.
After a good showing in Cunnigar last year where he came third RGSC’s Junior Smith was awarded with automatic qualification this year and he tees off with former National Matchplay winner Derek Courtney on Sunday. Kieran Earls was probably the player who came away with the most regrets from Cunnigar last year but he will attempt to make it to the top on this occasion alongside another former National Matchplay winner (a two time one at that) in Cement’s Mark Millar who impressed recently in making the semi-finals of this year’s Matchplay in Seapoint. His club-mate Ian Donnelly was the Leinster Matchplay winner in Bellewstown back in May and he tees off this weekend alongside Deerpark’s John McGrath. Last year’s Intermediate winner from Cunnigar, Damien Creevey of Lucan, makes the step up this year and he will tee-off alongside Anthony Kavanagh from Bellewstown.
The final pairing to tee off will be that of Lough Owel’s Gerry Coyne and Tralee’s Stephen Conway and all going well we should have an idea between 4.30pm and 5pm who the Top 20 that will battle it for the title will be. Whether it is all decided over the 54 holes is hard to say, we have form here before when it comes to an extra nine holes being needed to determine the winner, however we will all look forward to finding out the answer on Sunday.
We wish all involved in Tullamore this weekend both on and off the course the very best of luck with the weekend. If you are not in a position to join us this Sunday then you can keep track of proceedings either on our website or across our social media platforms.
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