THE battle for the Anchor Cup goes to Kerry for only the third time in its history this weekend as 13 sides will bid to win one of the most coveted trophies in Irish Pitch & Putt. Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor assesses the field ahead of this weekend in Deerpark.
1968 in Castleisland (Gents) and 1995 in Tralee were the only years the National Inter-County graced Kerry soil prior to this weekend as this year sees an Anchor Cup battle that is very much anticipated by all concerned. Kerry have only one this event once in 1986 at Tullamore with expectations high about the host county’s chances this year especially with the form of Deerpark’s own Damien Fleming so far this year in winning the National Senior Gents Strokeplay and Irish Open events.
Fleming is joined by his Deerpark club-mates John McGrath, Jason O’Brien, along with Jason O’Regan, Declan McCarron and James Dignan in representing the county this weekend as it will serve as a good early test of their credentials in being paired with the defending champions Cork. Cork did well to come from behind in the final quarter of last year’s event in Ryston with the Rebels bid for another successful defense of their title led by National Matchplay Champion Bryan Delaney with John Cahill, Declan Freeman, Ray Murphy, John Walsh and Eoin Keating making up their line-up this weekend in a bid for a 23rd title overall.
The Gents A will commence on Saturday morning with Offaly, Tipperary and Waterford in various combinations. Waterford return to the A Division after three consecutive B Division wins with Brian Farrell, Sean Hennebry, Edward Hennessy, Keith Shanahan, Daniel Sullivan and Robert Walker making up their line-up with Paul Carey, Aongus Coughlan, Denis Hill, Anthony Galvin, Patrick Murphy and Darren O’Connell making up their side after the county finished third in the recent Leinsters. The last time an Inter-County was held in Kerry, Tipperary were the winners as a generation on they are represented by Brian Cahill, James Cleary, Michael Fennell, Christopher Hickey, DJ Lynch and Stephen Shoer hoping it might be an omen for them this year in not winning the event since 1995.
Limerick are on a high after the convincing nature of their Munster Inter-County success in Parteen not least that 18 under par Scotch Foursomes card from Kieran Earls and Tommy Hanley! Martin Keohane and Patrick Farrell along with James Ryan and Liam O’Donovan make up the Treaty County side who come to Killarney with a lot of momentum. Down will be their playing partners on Saturday, Colin Sommers, Michael Concannon, Paul O’Hagan, Conor O’Hare, Michael Green and Liam McMahon make the long trip from the north-east to the south-west to represent both club and county. Wexford represent both club and county too with the three Donohoes of Dayle, Graham and Maurice along with the Grannells of Dean and Richard and William Hudson making up the Enniscorthy and Model County side.
They play alongside Meath with David Campbell, Michael Conneely, Anthony Gibney, Mark Gibney, Stephen Lynch and Niall Winters Jnr making up the Royal County side. After having to be separated by countback in Ryston for second and third last year, the pairing of Louth and Dublin on Saturday will be interesting especially after finishing first and second in the recent Leinsters. Louth look to George Beardsley, Ian Donnelly, Sean Goggin Padraic Sarsfield, Owen Smith, and Barry Thornton to lead their lines this weekend as Dublin’s bid for a second title since 2016 sees them feature John Ross Crangle, Chris Gallagher, Gary Healy, George McGreal, Anthony Malone and Junior Smith. Dublin did win in Kerry back in 1968 as 50 years later they look for a repeat.
The other sides to tee-off are Westmeath and Kildare with Michael Buckley, Rene Jan Bloem, Alan Hanlon, Mark Kelly, Pat Malone and Stephen Ruane making up the maroon and white line-up. Kildare meanwhile have John Cullen, John Delaney, Ian Dillon, Darren Keogh, Jason Meehan and Declan Mulpeter Snr amongst their ranks as matters change somewhat for the Singles on Saturday which will be played in Three Balls. Wexford and Meath will be mixed in with Limerick and Down for Singles pairings while Westmeath will join Louth and Dublin for their Singles rounds on Saturday meaning Kildare will be playing with Kerry and Cork in the Singles.
The order of play on Sunday is determined by Saturday’s play as it promises to be a tense and exciting battle over the course of the 72 holes, not least with the punishing Foursomes format on Sunday morning.
Best Wishes to all concerned this weekend as we wish everyone a safe trip to Killarney. Updates will be available on the PPUI Website as well as across our social media platforms throughout the weekend.
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