THE CKW region plays host to the Leinster Strokeplay Championships this weekend with the Men in Bagenalstown on both Saturday and Sunday with the Ladies playing in Gowran on Sunday. Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor takes a look at proceedings both days in this preview.
55 entries for the three grades with the majority in the Junior grade (24) as five players from the host club are entered in Stasia Heaphy, Patsy Kirk, Ina O’Donnell, Chrissie Keating and Marie Power. St Bridgets duo Catherine and Dina Dillon are probably two of the more standout names in terms of form so far this year however. Catherine retained the Leinster Mixed Foursomes title last month in Ringcommons while Dina reached the Semi-Finals of first ever Ladies Nett National Matchplay in Tullamore two weeks ago.
The Runner-Up of that event is here too in Tullamore’s Annie Galvin as there are also some prizewinners from the County/Regional Strokeplays last weekend. Ferbane’s Ger Ryan won the higher grade category in Offaly as McBride’s Audrey Donnelly (Louth) and Kilbeggan’s Adeline Revins (Westmeath) also won in their native counties last week. Glenville’s Christine Mulvey was runner-up in the Dublin Junior Ladies Strokeplay as was Castletown’s Noreen Myles in the equivalent event in Meath.
Christine’s Glenville club-mate Catherine Fox is a former National Junior Ladies O-55 Strokeplay winner as Lucan’s Dora Keane is another name to look out for. The Intermediate grade is totally neutral in terms of having no CKW entries but after getting to the Semi-Finals of the National Ladies Scratch Matchplay in Tullamore, RGSC’s Ger Holland will command most of the attention in advance. McDonagh’s Bernie Dunne is a recent winner of the grade (in both Strokeplay and Matchplay) and the Kildare entries are strong with Inter-County winners Mairead O’Toole (Poulaphouca) and Mary Donnelly (Ryston) also amongst the field.
Rose Kelly and Mary Sherry are others to have success to their names as do Dubliner’s Barbara Furlong and Mary Fullam. Old County’s Pauline Balfe is another to watch out for in this grade as Castletown’s Yvonne Carney and Trim’s Margaret Conneely represent Meath with Tullamore’s Christine McCarthy and Marie McEvoy the Offaly entries and Kathleen Carton the sole entry from Westmeath. The Senior Ladies grade has an entry of 11 with the focus once again likely to be on the fortunes of Ger Ward and Chrissie Byrne after their recent battle in Tullamore that went to the last hole.
Chrissie won the provincial title last year after Ger had won the National Matchplay beforehand but Tara Dillon and Margaret Hogan would appear best placed to break the duopoly in advance. Last year’s Intermediate winner Philo Condron is back in the senior grade this year with Sheelagh Elmes, Helen Greagsbey, RGSC duo Siobhan Keely and Glenda Hoey along with Marian Courtney and Margaret Keogh the other entrants for Sunday.
Again Gowran is a neutral track for all but whether it brings with it a change in the established order only Sunday will tell us.
LAST year’s events were certainly memorable for the St Patricks club in Enniscorthy with prizes in all three grades and titles in the Senior and Intermediate. Even though they are a lot closer to home this time in Bagenalstown one thing we are certain on is that the Junior winner will not be from the club this year as Ron Arnicar from the host club and Gowran’s Derek Whelan are the Regional Board representatives. The field of 18 players features one County Strokeplay winner from last Sunday in Lucan’s Stephen Needham who was victorious in Dublin at Ierne.
Arnicar will tee-off first in the grade on Saturday alongside Ryston’s Shane O’Donnell and Erry’s Martin Flanagan as Derek Whelan plays with Inniskeen’s Aiden Vaughan and Tullamore’s William Clear. Needham will play with Bellewstown’s Frank Andrews and Kilbeggan’s Alan Devaney The other pairings consist of Glenville’s Joseph O’Connor, McBride’s Pat Gorman and Tullamore’s Conor McEvoy playing alongside each other as will Glenville’s Keith Kershaw, Granard’s Raymond Fay and Kilbeggan’s Dean Revins. The other three-ball consists of Old County’s Conor O’Shea, Erry’s Jimmy Taylor and Lough Owel’s Shane Kinahan.
36 players compete in the Intermediate event on Saturday with last year’s Runner-Up Thomas Judd of Portmarnock teeing off in the first three-ball alongside Trim’s Paddy Kelly and Darren McNally from the host club. Martin Baird (winner of the CKW Intermediate Strokeplay after a playoff) is the other player from the host club taking part as McDonagh’s Paddy Phillips and Ferbane’s Brian Doyle are his playing partners in the second grouping. St Patricks Kevin Doyle bids to keep the title in the Enniscorthy club meanwhile as he tees off with Cement’s Gerard Thornton and Tullamore’s John Fleming (second in the Offaly Intermediate Strokeplay). One interesting three ball sees two of the County/Regional Strokeplay winners at this level last week in CPM’S Gareth Walsh (Dublin), Inniskeen’s Michael Vaughan (Louth/Down/Monaghan) playing alongside Custume’s William Prendergast who was third in the Westmeath Intermediate Strokeplay at the weekend.
Ryston’s John Kennedy lost out on the Intermediate title in Kildare after a playoff as he plays this Saturday alongside Gowran’s Michael Kehoe and Tullamore’s Joseph Creevy. Loughlinstown have four competitors in this grade namely Chris Cawley, Dave Maloney, Albert Mithen and Trevor Ward as there are three players from Lough Owel qualified in Niall Corcoran, Declan Hogan and David Penrose. The Top 12 will qualify for the final 18 holes as will the Top 12 in the Senior competition on Sunday which also consists of a field of 36. The Top Three from last year are all back in defending champion Martin O’Neill, runner-up Frank Ryan and Martin’s St Patricks club-mate in Paul Tobin who was third last year in St Bridgets.
O’Neill tees off in the first grouping with Tullamore’s Joseph Gorman and Collinstown’s Michael Buckley alongside him. Ryan plays alongside Seapoint’s Pat Greene and Glenville’s Julian Kelly as Tobin tees off in the penultimate group alongside Tullamore’s Patrick Murphy and Erry’s Joe McGrath Jnr. There are six County/Regional Strokeplay winners from the past weekend amongst the field as St Pats’ Dean Grannell plays with another Regional Strokeplay winner in McBride’s Sean Goggin with Dublin Strokeplay Runner-Up Junior Smith of RGSC making up an interesting three-ball. Dublin winner John Ross Crangle tees-off with a fellow former National Matchplay winner in Darren Reilly and Old County’s George McGreal making up an all Dublin three ball.
Offaly winner William Buckley Jnr of Erry meanwhile will play with fellow Faithful county player on Tullamore’s Anthony Galvin as Dutch native Rene Jan Bloem of Lough Owel makes up the three ball. Irish International and wildcard selection for the upcoming European Championship team in Castletown’s Eamon Gibney plays with Lough Owel’s Gary Middleton and McBride’s David O’Brien. Kildare Strokeplay winner Ian Dillon (after a 71 hole marathon with Cathal Dunne) plays with Trim’s Mark Gibney and Tullamore’s Mark Hogan with a Leinster Mixed Foursomes win already under Ian’s belt this year. L/D/M Strokeplay Runner-Up Ian Donnelly of Cement plays in the final three ball to tee-off meanwhile as Collinstown’s Alan Hanlon and Lucan’s Anthony Malone are his playing partners in Bagenalstown.
The St Patricks players might have the local knowledge on geography but with no local in the senior grade it might lend itself to a more even playing field for all concerned.
Tomorrow: We look at proceedings in Munster at Lakeside this weekend.
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