WITH the event requiring qualifying for the first time in a number of years, this year’s National Ladies Matchplay will have a bit of a different feel to it this year. Communications and Press Officer Jason O’Connor takes a closer look at proceedings in advance of Seapoint on Saturday.
When the event was last in Seapoint back in 2005, it was one of the Byrne sisters who came out on top in the form of Marian successfully defending the title she had won in Deerpark the previous year. That was her last title however as the balance of power lies with her sister Chrissie at the present time. The draw has thrown up the possibility of a meeting between the siblings in the Last 16 but they have to concentrate on their First Round matches first and foremost. Chrissie begins the defence of her title against a player from the host county in the form of Cement’s Francis Farrell. Farrell impressed in reaching the Final of the recent Leinster Junior Matchplay before eventually going down to Ratoath’s Bronagh Darby in the decider.
This will be a big step up in standard for Farrell however when she faces the recently returned Irish No 1 courtesy of her own victory in the Leinster Senior Matchplay. For Marian’s part she will take on Noeleen Bedford from the host club, one of seven Seapoint players amongst the 32 strong field. Runner-Up in the last two stagings, Tara Dillon will hope that this year might bring with it the second title that she covets so dearly. She faces one of home contingent in the bottom half of the draw in the form of Patricia Brennan with the winner to face either Cement’s Jean Cooney or National Seniors Strokeplay Champion Ger Holland of RGSC in the Second Round.
After losing her No 1 spot in the ranking with Chrissie’s recent win in the Leinsters, Ger Ward will begin her bid to reclaim the honour with an interesting tie against another recent Leinster Matchplay Champion in the form of Intermediate winner Siobhan McDonnell of Lucan. Another former multiple winner of this event, Margaret Hogan of Tullamore, is also in action this weekend as she faces Bridie Hanratty of Seapoint in the First Round. Of the other local competitors Christina Carroll faces a tricky challenge in the form of Lakeside’s Martha O’Brien while Ann Ward finds herself taking on Lucan’s Phil Condron. This is the first of four consecutive matches in the bottom half of the draw featuring players from Seapoint with Hogan vs. Hanratty being the second.
The third one sees Marlo Everitt take on Geraldine Edwards of Fairview CY, Concepta Maddick (a former National Mixed Foursomes winner around this venue back in 2012) then plays in the fourth with former National Ladies Strokeplay Champion Rose Kelly of Ryston. Meanwhile two players who featured in the latter stages of the recent Leinster Matchplay will face off in the First Round. Intermediate Runner-Up Carol O’Brien from Gaeil Colmcille will play Junior Semi-Finalist Wendy Mary Mooney of Cement. Louth County Board Chairperson Collon’s Mary Agnew completes the representation from the host county as she will face Glenda Hoey from RGSC while the third RGSC player in the field, Siobhan Keely will play Lucan’s Linda Thomson in an all Dublin affair.
While Munster representation in the field this year is low (three in total), Fermoy’s Eleanor Walsh will be one to watch after an impressive performance in winning the Cork Strokeplay on home turf last Sunday. She faces former National Intermediate Strokeplay Champion Mary Donnelly or Ryston in the First Round while Bruff’s Margaret O’Donovan will have her work cut out for her as she faces 1983 winner and one of last year’s semi-finalists, Sheelagh Elmes of Portmarnock in the First Round. The other match in the First Round is the only all club affair in the initial 16 matches as Shandon club-mates Maree O’Toole and Mary Fullam will meet for a place in the Second Round on Sunday.
Whether the links in Seapoint will produce a few surprises over the course of the weekend is hard to say but it is difficult to see a winner beyond the established order emerging on Monday afternoon. Hopefully it will be an event to excite whatever unfolds over the course of the three days.
Tomorrow: We look ahead to the Men’s event in Seapoint this weekend.
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