108 players will take part on Saturday in the National Intermediate and Junior Gents Strokeplay Championships with play getting underway at the spritely hour of 8am. Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor takes an overview of both fields ahead of Saturday.
36 players bid to succeed John Byrne of Lucan as 2019 Champion with Alan Doyle and Stephen Needham from the Dublin club hoping to emulate their club-mate’s achievement from last year in Glenville on Saturday. Doyle tees off in the second three-ball with Owen Simms of Cunnigar and Portmarnock’s Kieran McDonald as Needham plays with Raymond Fay of Collinstown (Leinster Junior Strokeplay Runner-Up) and Richie Walsh of Trim. Brian Dillon of Ardnacrusha, John Donnelly of Lough Owel and the Gleneagle’s Sean O’Brien start proceedings, O’Brien playing in the event 17 years on from when he also featured at ESB in a now rare outing by a member of the Killarney club in a National Championship.
There is no player from the host club in the grade as Athgarvan’s Kevin Lambe plays with Collins’ Nicholas Byrne and Riverdale’s Gerald Tuite as McDonagh’s Stephen Murphy plays with Deerpark’s Noel Moynihan and Charleville’s Joe Mulvihill. Former U-16 Inter-County winner with Cork and son of former Irish No 1 John Walsh, Ryan Walsh, is likely to attract a lot of interest after his performance in the Cork Junior Strokeplay as he tees-off alongside Robert Masterson of Collinstown and Trim’s John Plunkett. Another player who will attract a degree of interest is Kerry native and Cill Na Mona member Dermot Tuohy who finds himself teeing off with two Kerry players interestingly enough in Deerpark’s Darragh O’Callaghan and Listowel’s John Carey. The Eden club meanwhile has one of its first representatives in a national final as Ronan Shannon plays with Ardnacrusha’s Eugene McNamara and Larkspur Park’s Michael Butler.
A member of the Gowran team that won last year’s National Nett Inter-Club event, Derek Delaney tees-off with Glenville’s William Curry and Bellewstown’s Oliver Plunkett as the final three-ball features Bellewstown’s Richard Brennan, Riverdale’s Sean Crowe and Castletown’s Stephen McCabe. The Top 9 will be going forward for the 18 hole playoff at the end with scoring likely to be a bit lower than it was in Glenville last year with course conditions unlikely to be affected as much as they were by last year’s heat wave.
SINCE the number of participants on the Saturday of the National Gents Strokeplay expanded in 2015, Intermediate Finalists are nearly on par now with Senior Finalists so much so that this year sees the grade split into two sessions on Saturday with a total of 72 taking part. Deerpark’s James Fleming, Ferbane’s Brian Doyle and Parteen’s Kevin Flynn begin the grade at 11am on Saturday with Munster Intermediate Strokeplay winner from last month in Listowel, Brian O’Flynn from Tipperary Hills in action, playing alongside Jack Carroll from Tullamore and Noel Power of the Tramore club.
Leinster Intermediate Runner-Up and former Irish International John Carton of Kilbeggan plays with Emmet Fitzgerald of Ardnacrusha and Collins’ Damien Long as third finisher in the same event, Dean Dinnegan of Lough Owel, plays with PJ Murphy of Tullamore and Portmarnock’s Martin Dowd. Both Ryston participants are in the second session. Pat Tinsley plays with Jimmy Taylor of Erry as well as Collins’ Trevor Ahern as former National 0-55’s Junior Strokeplay winner Aidan Whelan plays with a former National Mixed Foursomes Runner-Up in Dean Courtney of Riverdale and Larry Maher Snr of Erry. A former National U-16 winner is amongst the field as Seanie Bellew of Castletown (Matchplay winner in 2017) plays alongside Portmarnock’s David Poole Jnr and Royal Meath’s Daniel O’Toole.
Munster Intermediate Matchplay winner, John Farrell of Bruff plays with Kilbeggan’s Martin Loran and Lucan’s Tom McMorrow as the winner of the Junior competition in Larkspur Park the same weekend, Daniel Ryan of Tipperary Hills, tees off with David Kieran of Lough Owel and Gerard Hogan of St Stephens. Larkspur Park was of course the home club of last year’s winner in Glenville, Michael Kirby, as Celly Ryan from the host club tees off in the first three-ball in the second session alongside Lough Owel’s Declan Hogan and Deerpark’s Adam Kelly. The Killarney club’s total of five finalists in the grade is bettered only by Collins with six as Jim Aherne joins Trevor in the field playing with Jonathon Daly of Rochfortbridge and Gary Ryan of Lucan.
Jason Long from the Cork City club was Runner-Up in the recent Munster Junior Strokeplay as he plays with Anthony Browne of Custume and Lennon Blake of Old County in the second session. McDonagh’s Aidan Thomas will hope for a good showing as he plays with Martin Walsh of Cill Na Mona and Stackallen’s William McNally with another Kildare registered player in Poulaphouca’s Stephen Kavanagh playing with Laytown’s Gareth McLoughlin and Kilineer’s Gel Martin. It will be just prior to 3.30pm before the final three-ball in Tipp Hills’ Charlie Compton, Royal Meath’s Andrew O’Brien and St Annes Michael Long begin their 36 holes but at the end of the first 36, 15 will go forward to decide the destination of the title.
Those that emerge from the first session for the playoff will have a wait before it gets down to serious business later in the day but whether heading straight back out after the 36 or having some time to prepare themselves will be a better position for the 15 who make it through remains to be seen. Expect low scoring to decide the title if conditions allow, something that is a bit of a hallmark of the Newbridge venue.
Tomorrow: We look ahead to Sunday’s Senior event.