THE north of the province plays host to the Leinster Matchplay Championships this weekend as Collon in Louth and Inniskeen in Monaghan host play on Saturday before Inniskeen hosts all the Finals on Sunday. Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor previews the final provincial event of the year in the eastern province.
INNISKEEN will have the distinction of being a neutral venue for all in the Senior Gents grade who no representation in the grade as St Patricks Dean Grannell returns to defend the title he won last year in Navan against Sean Goggin. Gerry Coyne of Lough Owel will be his opponent in the First Round as Goggin faces Castletown’s Eamon Gibney in one of the standout ties of the opening round. Leinster Intermediate Strokeplay Runner-Up Darren McNally of Bagenalstown will face Cement’s Ian Donnelly (2016 winner) as he moves up to the top grade with former National Matchplay and Strokeplay winner Mark Millar playing Navan’s Anthony Gibney in the bottom half of the draw.
Last year’s Intermediate Matchplay winner Gerard Gallagher of Erry plays Lucan’s Anthony Malone who was this year’s Dublin Senior Matchplay winner. Offaly Matchplay winner Anthony Galvin takes on Ringcommons’ Colin Byrne as it looks to be a very open field this year in the senior grade. The Junior Gents grade does feature six players from the host club with Aiden Vaughan taking on Ben Phelan from St Bridgets in the First Round. His club-mates Bob Hillard and Isaac Smith take on Gowran’s Eugene Gibbons and Glenville’s Keith Potter respectively.
Both Inniskeen players might find themselves facing off in the second round should they come through their First Round matches. John Rowland from the Monaghan club plays Raymond Fay of Granard while a second potential Second Round encounter between Inniskeen club-mates could be in the offing if Michael Finnegan and Martin McArdle defeat Glenville’s Joseph O’Connor and Trim’s Kevin Sullivan respectively. Meath Junior Matchplay Winner Darren Forde takes on Gowran’s Robert Middleton as C/K/W Junior Matchplay winner Tom Fitzpatrick of Gowran takes on Navan’s Jimmy Burke.
The Intermediate Gents will have the distinction of playing in two different courses over the weekend with Collon seeing the opening rounds of this grade played alongside the Ladies. Paudie Neary is the sole participant from Saturday’s hosts in this grade as he faces Gowran’s Dick Dreeling in the First Round. Ciaran McCreesh of Inniskeen will hope to make Sunday’s Quarter-Finals and make the most of home advantage but he faces a tough start in taking on last year’s Junior Matchplay winner in Kevin Knox of Gowran. The Runner-Up of last year’s event in Navan’s Jason Hughes hopes to go one better as he faces McDonagh’s Paddy Phillips in the First Round.
Two County Intermediate Matchplay winners face off in the First Round as Meath winner Sean Clerkin of Bellewstown and Westmeath winner David Penrose of Lough Owel do battle. Offaly winner Michael Connolly of Tullamore will face Paddy Kelly of Trim with Dublin Intermediate Strokeplay winner Gareth Walsh taking on Kevin Doyle from St Patricks.
Thankfully there is a Senior Ladies event this year with all the play in Inniskeen on Sunday in two straight Semi-Finals followed by a decider. Chrissie Byrne won the last staging of this event back in 2016 with last year’s Intermediate Runner-Up Helen Greagsbey of Fairview/CY her opponent in the second Semi-Final. Mary Agnew of Collon will take on Chrissie’s Ryston club-mate Tara Dillon in the first Semi-Final with the decider to follow on Sunday afternoon.
The Intermediate Grade sees a Preliminary Quarter-Final between Trim’s Margaret Conneely and Old County’s Pauline Balfe in Collon on Saturday to determine who will play Lucan’s Tracey Smith in Sunday’s first Semi-Final in Inniskeen as there is a Louth and indeed Seapoint representative guaranteed to be in Sunday afternoon’s decider with club-mates Christina Carroll and Marlo Everitt facing off in the other Semi-Final. The Junior grade has the largest entry with nine as the competition begins with a Preliminary Round between Louth players Wendy Mary Mooney of Cement and Ann O’Sullivan of Channonrock to determine who will play another Louth player in Seapoint’s Ann Fagan in the Quarter-Finals.
Both of last year’s finalists from Navan are involved again with winner Francis Farrell of Cement taking on Leinster Junior Strokeplay third place finisher Joanne Cooney of Seapoint. Last year’s Runner-Up Noreen Myles of Castletown meanwhile will player National Junior Strokeplay third place finisher Audrey Donnelly of Cement with the remaining Quarter-Final also having Louth interest in Louise Markey of Channonrock taking on Bridie Hanratty of Seapoint.
The Semi-Finalists will move on to Inniskeen on Sunday to determine the eventual winner.
Tomorrow: We preview the Munster events at both Majestic in Mallow as well as Fermoy.
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