BEGINNING a double weekend of action here is a preview of the National U-16 Matchplay Championships in Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath with Communications & Press Officer Jason O'Connor taking a look at some of the entrants in this weekend’s event.
AN exciting time for the U-16 game as the national events loom in the aftermath of the announcement of the first ever Irish team to represent the country in an International Challenge with Catalonia in Seapoint next month. The introduction of a Round Robin in the U-16 Matchplay in deciding the participants in the Helen Persson Cup (Championship) and Plate events proved to be a great success in St Stephens last year. Both of last year’s Finalists in the Championship Seanie Bellew (winner) and Iain Aherne (runner-up) have now moved on from the U-16 ranks with Plate competition winner Aaron Roche of St Stephens still U-16 for the present year.
Much of the initial focus will be on two time National Strokeplay winner Evan Carry of Castletown who was named as captain of the Irish U-16 team last weekend. Victories in both the Leinster Strokeplay and Matchplay events will increase his optimism for the weekend as the two Munster U-16 winners this year are both from the Parteen club. Patrick Mitchell (Strokeplay) and Shea Fennell (Matchplay) both performed impressively in Rocklodge and Deerpark in winning their titles as Glenn Towler (St Annes) and Dylan Hudson (St Patricks) were Semi-Finalists in the first staging of the event in Royal Meath in 2016. Hudson also lost on the last hole to Carry in an exciting Leinster Matchplay decider in Poulaphouca three weeks ago.
Towler was the inaugural winner of course in the decider as Carry went on to win the Plate event with fellow Cork players Cian Mulcahy (Collins), Liam McGrath (Douglas) and Cian Murphy (St Annes) along amongst the prizes at the Munster U-16 Strokeplay last weekend. Eoin and Luke Murphy were the second and third placed finishers behind Evan Carry last weekend on their home turf of Seapoint with Eoin finishing as runner-up and Luke getting a call-up alongside Carry and Hudson in being the Leinster representatives on the Irish team.
Deerpark’s Cillian Courtney joins Towler and Mitchell in being the Munster representatives on the Irish team and Courtney also heads an 18 strong list of entrants from the Killarney club with Robbie Harnett, Erin Moloney and Jack McCarthy having played for the Kerry U-16 team last year as Alex O’Callaghan (Championship) and Joey McCarthy (Plate) both reached the Semi-Finals in the Munster Matchplay on home turf. There are three players from Dublin entered namely Glenville’s Luke Devlin, Lucan’s Alex Keegan and Old County’s Adam Power as local interest centres on four players.
Jack Mullins was the 10-13 prize winner at the National Strokeplay in Erry last year and was also third in the same section at the Leinsters last week in Seapoint. He is joined by club-mate Padraig Carton, Conor Mullins as well as Padraig Rabbitte with Collinstown duo Brian Bray and Jack Buckley bringing the Westmeath representation at the event up to six.
Offaly is the other county represented with Tullamore’s Coleby Clear and Ferbane’s Jack Dunican entered as the draw will be crucial to the 16 players that will emerge from the Round-Robin for the Championship and the eight that will take part in the Plate.
There will be a Girls Final on Sunday as well as Lucan's Maebh and Eimear Ahern will compete for the title. Maebh was the winner of the Leinster Matchplay Final before Eimear emerged victorious last weekend in Seapoint at the Leinster Strokeplay.
It should be an exciting spectacle around Kilbeggan for the weekend.
Tomorrow: We preview the O-55’s Championships in McDonagh.
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