Just before you get stuck into Jason's report, the National Strokeplay Draws are now online in the Downloads (Draws) section of ther website, there is no qualifying for the Ladies.
THIS weekend sees an expanded Provincial Strokeplay Championship programme take place in both Leinster and Munster with 54 holes a feature of all six Gents competitions this weekend. Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor takes a closer look at both proceedings in both Kildare and Cork on Saturday and Sunday.
St Bridgets plays host to all three Gents grades with the Intermediates and Juniors in action on Saturday and the Seniors playing on Sunday at the Kilcullen venue. It will be 54 holes for the Intermediates and Juniors this year as a further 18 holes are being introduced for both grades with the Top 12 in both instances qualifying for the Final 18. In the Junior grade there are 29 players from the host club with only competitor from the host club in Christy Sweeney amongst five players from the Short Grass County in the grade as McDonagh’s Peter Kearney, Derek O’Driscoll and Aidan Thomas join Ryston’s Phillip Cairn Duff in making up the Kildare representation.
There are two County/Regional Board Strokeplay Champions amongst the field namely Castletown’s Gerry Plunkett (Meath) and Nicholas Brennan of Gowran (Carlow/Kilkenny/Wexford) from last weekend’s events while Lough Owel’s Gareth Ward missed on out victory in the Westmeath Junior Strokeplay after a playoff. In the Intermediate Grade meanwhile there are 39 players with PPUI Vice-President Liam Sherry carrying local hopes as the sole St Bridgets player in the first group to tee-off alongside McBride’s Owen Campbell and Rochfortbridge’s Mark Kelly. The grade has the novelty of two NEC Officers amongst the field with Leinster/Ulster Co-Ordinator David Reddin also teeing off Patrick Grehan of Royal Meath and Erins Isle’s David Beatty. Ryston’s Aidan Whelan and Francis O’Connor and Athgarvan’s James Dunne make up the Kildare players as the grade also features last year’s winner from Collinstown in the form of Lucan’s Michael Ahern. Old County’s Paul Griffin enters off the back of victory in the Dublin Intermediate Strokeplay last Sunday.
Bagenalstown’s Patrick Robinson Jnr won the Carlow/Kilkenny/Wexford and he competes in Kilcullen tomorrow while the aforementioned Campbell was runner-up in the Louth/Down/Monaghan event. Moving on to the Senior event on Sunday, after last year’s event saw Keith Redmond emerge victorious after a nine-hole playoff in Collinstown over John Ross Crangle, the draw has thrown up the novelty of the two players being paired with each other for the first 36 with reigning Leinster Matchplay Champion and last Sunday’s winner of the Louth/Down/Monaghan Senior Strokeplay Ian Donnelly making up an interesting three ball. Crangle as we all know after Tipperary Hills is finally after breaking his National Singles hoodoo so it will be interesting to see how he fares in trying to reclaim provincial honours. There are three other County/Regional Strokeplay Champions amongst the 39 strong field including Stephen Murray (Dublin), Joe Ronan (Kildare) and Martin O’Neill (Carlow/Kilkenny/Wexford) with some runners-up Frank Ryan (Kildare), Stephen Ruane (Westmeath) and Eamon Gibney (Meath) also amongst those competing at provincial level. Leinster Mixed Foursomes winner Ian Dillon will hope for some good local knowledge on home turf as he is only the only player from the club taking part on Sunday.
Across the Curragh in McDonagh the Ladies will play on Sunday only as 71 are entered for the three grades. The Juniors begin the day with 25 entries as Moira Behan is the only player from the host club entered as she tees-off with another Kildare player in Ryston’s Theresa O’Keeffe. The two Ladies that finished first and second in the Kildare Strokeplay last week are also entered Sunday in the form of reigning National O-55’s Junior Strokeplay Champion Dina Dillon and her St Bridgets club-mate Ann Sweeney. Another St Bridgets player in Catherine Dillon is this year’s Leinster Mixed Foursomes winner while Erry’s Ann Minogue, Gowran’s Marie Power and Wendy Mary Mooney of Cement were amongst the prize-winners in the Offaly, Carlow/Kilkenny/Wexford and Louth/Down/Monaghan Strokeplays respectively last weekend. In the Intermediate grade there are 33 entries with defending champion from last year in Rochfortbridge, Sandra Keogh of Lucan amongst the entries.
There are some winners from the County Strokeplays last week amongst the field as well, Old County’s Laura Whelan (Dublin) and Ryston’s Mary Donnelly (Kildare) the most noticeable as there also are some prize-winners from last weekend’s events in the form of Yvonne Carney, Phil Condron, Marie Black, Marie Dooley and Mary Agnew. Lucan’s Barbara Furlong reached the Quarter-Finals of the recent National Ladies Matchplay while Royal Meath’s Theresa Fagan was amongst the prizes at the recent Leinster Mixed Foursomes. Local hopes rest with two players in the form of Bernie Dunne (2015 winner) and Antoinette Doyle as Margaret Keogh’s participation in the grade will be interesting to see. The Senior Ladies meanwhile has a small field of 13 with Ger Ward looking to retain her title much like in the same way she retained her National Matchplay title two weeks ago in Tipperary Hills.
Success in the Dublin Strokeplay last weekend was a good follow-up as club-mate Sheelagh Elmes finished behind her in second. National Matchplay Runner-Up Chrissie Byrne won in Kildare last Sunday with the player she beat in the Semi-Finals Tara Dillon finishing behind her in second. Margaret Hogan won in Offaly as she enters this weekend with Lily Slattery entered from the host club for Sunday’s play.
Proceedings are all based in one venue in Munster this weekend with ESB playing host to the six competitions over both days as the Ladies join the Gents at Half Moon Lane. The Ladies will play on Saturday alongside the Junior Gents who kick proceedings off at 9am. All grades will be a shotgun start throughout both days as 21 Juniors will bid to be in the Top 9 for the deciding 18 hole playoff. Fergus O’Herlihy is the only player from the host club in this grade as Tipperary Hills’ Michael O’Donoghue is the only County Strokeplay Champion from last weekend’s Junior Championships. Three of the prize-winners from the Cork Strokeplay are here however with Mark Jordan (Raffeen Creek), Keith Flynn (Fermoy) and Michael Bransfield (Raffeen Creek) all qualified for tomorrow.
Tralee’s Tim Scannell is a former ESB member as he joins club-mates David Hobbert and Patrick Byrne in the field as Newmarket’s Chris Fleming becomes the first player from the newly formed club to take part in a provincial event. Bruff’s Gerard Heelan recently competed at the National Gents Matchplay while St Stephens’ Dave Towler was very unlucky not to win a prize in the recent Munster Mixed Foursomes. The three Ladies Competitions will all tee-off at the same time on Saturday afternoon (1.30pm) with 22 in the Junior Ladies event given it the bulk of the field. Margaret O’Donovan is the defending champion from last year in Hillview with third place finisher Margaret Forde also amongst the field tomorrow. Sonya Neville Dineen carries local hopes in this event as Michelle Flynn is the reigning Cork Junior Champion with Ballinlough’s Karen Aherne runner-up in that particular event.
Tralee’s Lisa O’Connor was runner-up in the recent Munster Mixed Foursomes as Lakeside’s Josie McCormack was also amongst the prizes in Lakewood last month. Cunnigar have five entries in the Junior along with two in the Intermediate in the form of Mary O’Neill and Lorraine Troy. The Intermediate is a small 12 player field with Fermoy’s Ailish Sexton the Cork Champion at the grade and last year’s National Junior Ladies Strokeplay winner Mairead Manning amongst the entries. Collins’ Sarah O’Neill is also a winner of that particular honour as Bridget Shelley of Lakeside was runner-up in last Sunday’s Tipperary Strokeplay. The Senior grade sees six do battle for the title won by Eleanor Walsh last year as the Fermoy player returns to defend her title. Lakeside’s Martha O’Brien followed up on a run to the National Ladies Matchplay Semi-Finals by winning on home turf last weekend as Breda White hopes to reclaim the title she won in 2015. Vera McCarthy enters off the back of the Munster Mixed Foursomes win in Lakewood while Collins’ Linda Murphy and a welcome return of Claire O’Flynn from the hosts makes up the field.
On Sunday it will be the turn of the Intermediate and Senior Gents to do battle for those honours with 39 Intermediates kicking us off on Sunday morning. Michael Herlihy is the only player from the host club in the field here as Bruff’s Kevin Flynn, Fermoy’s Peter O’Donovan, Riverdale’s John Minogue and Tralee’s Jason Cregan are the four County Strokeplay winners from last weekend in the field having won the Limerick, Cork, Tipperary and Kerry versions respectively. There are a couple of second place finishers as well in the form of Douglas’ Eoin Keating (Cork) and Deerpark’s John O’Brien (Kerry) with former winner at Senior level Sean Minogue also amongst the players here on Sunday. Two of last year’s Munster Matchplay winners are here as well with Conor Fahy (Junior) and Craig Cahill (Intermediate) amongst those taking part on Sunday. Collins’ Jim Ahern of course was the winner of the Munster Mixed Foursomes last month.
The top 12 will qualify for the playoff as will the Top 12 in the Seniors which is made up on 30 participants as John Walsh bids for a third successive title come tee-off on Sunday lunchtime. Walsh of course needed a playoff to get the better of Bryan Delaney with Delaney returning to a course that he knows very well. John Cahill was the winner of the Cork Strokeplay last weekend and after being 36 hole leader in St Annes last year he will want to do a lot better this time. Limerick’s Patsy Farrell is the other County Strokeplay winner from last Sunday in the field meanwhile. Shane Murphy finished third last year and his father Weeshie is amongst the competitors on Sunday. Ray Murphy looks to bounce back after a rare loss in a National Matchplay Final as both Deerpark’s John McGrath and Tipperary Hills’ James Ryan were runners-up in their respective County Strokeplays last Sunday. Irish Open winner Frank Dineen is amongst the field as is runner-up Damien Fleming with National Strokeplay Champion Liam O’Donovan and his Bruff club-mate Pacelli Darcy returning to Irish soil after victory in the World Pairs last weekend.
Tralee’s Tony Blake was a prize-winner in the Munster Mixed Foursomes as the Shotgun Start element will bring its own unique features to play on Sunday.
We wish all players in the 12 different competitions this weekend the very best of luck. Updates from all three venues will be available on the PPUI website throughout the day and we hope that you can join us either in person or online over the course of the weekend.
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