John Manning takes a look at some of the Irish entries in this weekend’s European Strokeplay across the Irish Sea in Dagenham.
Holder Liam O’Donovan (Bruff) and his club-mate Pacelli Darcy (the reigning Over 55 champion) will headline the 50-strong Irish assault on the third European Strokeplay Championships, which will be played over 54 holes at the Central Park course in Dagenham, England on the weekend of August 17th/18th. In all, approximately 130 players representing nine national associations will contest the tournament.
Bellewstown’s Ian Farrelly was the inaugural champion with 145 at Imjelt, Norway in 2011 while Liam O’Donovan defends his title in this quadrennial event, having triumphed at Orvelte, Netherlands in 2015. Liam lost a play-off for last year’s British Open at Dagenham having been fourth in 2016. Although originally entered, Ian Farrelly is unfortunately and unavoidably unable to play this time round.
Loughlinstown’s John Ross Crangle, who recently became the 15th player is history to win both the National Matchplay and Strokeplay with his victory at Ryston, has been the most consistent performer in past European Strokeplay Championships. Crangle finished second in 2011 and third at Orvelte.
2019 National Matchplay and Strokeplay Runner-Up Bryan Delaney (Bishopstown) will travel to Dagenham brimming with confidence after the 2009 National Strokeplay and 2018 National Matchplay victor’s recent successes at the St. Annes and Kilmichael Scratch Cups. Bryan’s Bishopstown colleague Mark Roche was runner-up in the 2018 Cork Junior Matchplay Championship.
Besides JR, the next most consistent performer in European Strokeplay championship history is two-time Irish Open winner Frank Dineen. The St. Annes maestro finished fifth at Imjelt, Norway in 2011 while the 2008 National Strokeplay Champion ended the Orvelte 2015 Championship in fourth spot. 2013 World Strokeplay champion John Walsh (Collins) meanwhile was third in the 2011 European Strokeplay Championship at Imjelt and endured a narrow defeat to Liam O’Donovan in a play-off for the 2017 World crown.
Riverdale’s Sean Minogue, the 1991 Munster Matchplay champion and 2018 National O-55 Intermediate grade Strokeplay winner, can claim a past victory at Dagenham.A 54 hole tally of six under par gave the Nenagh native a five shot success at the 2018 British Senior Open at the European Strokeplay venue. Sean’s son John Minogue was bronze medallist at the 2015 National Gents Junior Strokeplay Championship.
2019 National Ladies Matchplay Champion Mary Murray (Rocklodge) will carry Irish hopes along with 2019 National Ladies Over 55 Junior Grade Strokeplay Champion Margaret O’Donovan (Bruff) in the Ladies European Strokeplay Championship, which is defended by Holland’s Esther de Schiffart. Mary can already boast a victory and a second around the Central Park course.
The 2018 National Ladies O-55 Senior Grade Strokeplay champion Murray won the 2016 British Open at Dagenham and was second behind Esther de Schiffart in the 2018 renewal. Liz Quinn (Collinstown) is a formidable late addition to the Ladies Championship. 2001 National Mixed Foursomes champion (with Paul Bray), Liz has campaigned profitably on the international circuit and her CV includes open victories in Australia, San Marino, France and Holland.
Multiple Dublin Champion Dennis Monaghan (Shandon) won the O-55 category at the Catalan Open in April. He was close in the 2016 British Senior Open at Dagenham, just losing out to Steve Deeble (GB) in a play-off, after they had tied on 161.
Collinstown’s Alan Hanlon boasts a number of international open victories on his Pitch & Putt résumé while Hanlon also helped Ireland to the 2005 European Team championship in Holland and (together with Crangle and Gibney) Team Europe to the 2018 Fernando Morgado Trophy in Chile.
2018 Catalan Open winner Tommy Hanley (Bruff) was part of Ireland’s most recent European Team Championship success and has also campaigned very proficiently in the International Open Pairs (partnered by Kieran Earls), winning the latter tournament in 2016.
2001 National Strokeplay Champion John Cahill (Fermoy) joined Tommy Hanley (along with JR and Bryan Delaney) in that European Team Championship success. One of the most successful players in Inter-County Championship history, John almost won the 2015 European Strokeplay Championship but eventually lost out by a stroke to Liam O’Donovan who produced the all-time scoring record (of 143) for the Championship.
Having taken that event at Orvelte four years ago, Pacelli will face strong opposition for the O-55 title from Sean Minogue and Dennis Monaghan and maybe Billy O’Donovan (Bruff), who went close at the British Senior Open at Dagenham last year. Pacelli is the current British Open Champion having won that 2018 Dagenham play-off with Liam O’Donovan and Britain’s John Deeble.
Evan Carry, the most decorated juvenile in Irish Pitch & Putt history and Ireland’s U-16 captain against the touring Catalans at Seapoint last year, will travel alongside his Castletown club-mate Eamon Gibney, another member of that triumphant sextet in green at Urduna last year. A regular competitor on the international circuit, Eamon won the 2016 World Cup in Andorra, beside Crangle and Walsh and clinched the 2014 Irish Open at Glenville. He finished three shots behind winner John Deeble at Dagenham in the 2016 British Open.
2016 National Matchplay kingpin Shane Murphy (Rocklodge) has been a consistent contender at the Catalan Open, finishing third at Roc 3 in 2016. 2013 National Inter-Club winner with his club, Donal Duggan (St. Annes) finished second to Ray Murphy in that year’s National Strokeplay Championship. Twice a Munster Juvenile Inter-County winner with Cork and former All Ireland Boys champion, Ryan Towler (St. Annes) won the 2016 Catalan Under 18 Open at Roc 3.
National Matchplay Quarter-Finalist Daithi Sexton (Fermoy) was National Mixed Foursomes winner with his wife Ailish in 2011. John McGrath (Deerpark) is a past National and Munster Matchplay semi-finalist and a Munster Inter-County winner with Kerry. Damien Creevey (Lucan) won the 2015 National Intermediate Strokeplay Championship at Cunnigar. Michael Herlihy (ESB) captured the same Cup in 1995 at Collins.
2012 National O-55 intermediate grade Strokeplay champion Weeshie Murphy (Raffeen Creek) finished third at the inaugural World Senior (O-55) Strokeplay Championship at Verin, Galicia, Spain last year. Bellewstown’s Anthony Kavanagh was seventh in the same Championship. Two-time National Strokeplay Champion Anthony Malone (Lucan) has pretty much seen it and done it all in Pitch & Putt. A member of the touring Irish party in Catalonia in 1997, Anthony contended strongly for the 2016 Irish Senior Open at Rocklodge, losing out by just a single stroke to Pacelli Darcy.
Former National Youth Officer Noel Collins (Majestic) helped Cork to Munster Inter-County glory in 2012. Barry Morrissey was National Strokeplay runner-up in 1986 and a National Inter-Club victor with Fermoy last autumn. 2016 Munster Junior Matchplay and 2017 Munster Intermediate Strokeplay Champion Conor Fahey (Parteen) was a fifth place finisher in last year’s British Open at Dagenham.
Full List of Irish players is:
John Walsh, Damien Long, James Kelleher, Weeshie Murphy, Denis O'Sullivan, Dennis Monaghan, Jamie O'Connor, Bryan Delaney, Noel Ring, Mark Roche, John Murphy, Michael Herlihy, Frank Dineen, Sean Minogue, John Minogue, Conor Fahy, Che Maher, Pacelli Darcy, Thomas Hanley, John Murray, Mary Murray, Niall Winters (Jr.), Paddy Kelly, Anthony Gibney, Eamon Gibney, Jason Gibney, Paul O'Rourke, Evan Carry, Colm Lynch, Shane Murphy, Donal Duggan, Anthony Malone, John Ross Crangle, John McGrath, Liam O'Donovan, John Cahill, David Sexton, Noel Collins, Sean O'Brien, Barry O'Flynn, Alfie Lane, Ryan Towler, Billy O'Donovan, Margaret O'Donovan, Damien Creevey, Liz Quinn, Vincent Kavanagh, Alan Hanlon, Barry Morrissey and Anthony Kavanagh.
Two interesting Irish natives (but playing under the Dutch banner) on view will be Declan McCarron and Gary Pyke. Declan was National Intermediate Strokeplay Champion in 2010 while Gary won the 2009 Leinster Schools tournament with Tullamore College and finished Runner-Up in the 2011 National Mixed Foursomes with his sister Lauren. Gary was fourth in last year’s British Open at Dagenham. Declan is the reigning Dutch Matchplay champion.
The field will play 36 holes on Saturday followed by the final round on Sunday.
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