AS another decade closes on the battle for the Anchor Cup, Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor takes a look at the 12 teams in advance of proceedings in McDonagh this weekend.
CHASING yet another ‘three-in-a-row’ Cork will hope that this particular decade ends for them the previous one did. In the ‘Noughties’ Cork only failed to win the Anchor Cup twice, that being in 2000 in this weekend’s venue to Kildare and in 2002 in Seapoint to Louth. Similarly they have only failed to win it twice this decade with 2012 in St Patricks and 2016 in RGSC the only years they did not come home with the Cup.
On those four occasions this Millennium the host county has triumphed in each instance as despite not winning Munster again this decade, Cork will still be highly fancied to take home the title as they are represented by perennial figures Ray Murphy, John Walsh, Frank Dineen and John Cahill as Eoin Keating and Denis O’Sullivan make up their side this year. They will start the Scotch Foursomes on Saturday with Kildare as per tradition with the hosts hoping to perform well on home turf having been three shots off a medal in the Leinsters in Royal Meath last month.
John Delaney, Ian Dillon, Cathal Dunne, Willie Fitzgerald, Joe Ronan and Frank Ryan make up the Lilywhite line-up as last year’s Eamon Birchall Cup winners Carlow will join them in the Singles. With the A and B Divisions discontinued for this year, the Cup in memory of the former Pitch & Putt Ireland President will be awarded to the county with the best Nett score over the weekend. That means all teams are competing as one for the first time since 2013 in Hillview. Carlow competed at Intermediate level in Leinster this year as Ron Arnicar, Martin Baird, Peter Doyle, Kevin Halligan, David McGrath and Donal McNally are the Bagenalstown based side’s representatives.
The grade actually begins on Saturday with the two provincial winning counties playing with each other in the Scotch Foursomes. Tipperary had 12 shots to spare over Cork in a superb performance in winning on home turf as Anthony Culhane, Michael Fennell, Christopher Hickey, Stephen O’Reilly, Stephen Shoer and Paul Sweeney will not lack confidence in travelling up to the Curragh. Wexford had five shots to spare over Dublin and Down in winning in Royal Meath as Dayle Donohoe, James Foley Jnr, Dean and Richard Grannell, Martin O’Neill and Paul Tobin make up the Model County side. Wexford were third last year in Deerpark and will want to push a bit closer to the big title this year. Neighbouring counties follow in the next two sets of counties to tee-off as Limerick and Kerry play alongside each other. The Treaty County were four shots better than the Kingdom in claiming third in the Munsters, Limerick having won the 2018 provincial event in Parteen.
Kieran Earls, Patsy Farrell, Thomas Hanley, Martin Keohane, Liam O’Donovan and James Ryan represent them in McDonagh as Kerry will hope for a much better performance this year than on home turf in 2018 where they finished outside the medals. Damien Fleming, John McGrath and James Dignan return from last year’s side as Jamie Blake, Alan Hobbart and Aidan O’Connor make up their six this year. Fellow L/D/M Regional Board members Down and Louth tee-off next in the Scotch Foursomes, the Mourne County emboldened by a fantastic performance in Royal Meath where they claimed silver on countback from Dublin.
Michael Green, Ronan Hollywood, Ciaran McLoughlin, Liam McMahon, Conor O’Hare and Colin Somers make up their line-up as Louth will hope to finish in the medals again like they did in Ryston two years ago. George Beardsley, Ian Donnelly, Sean Goggin, Peter Reilly, Padraic Sarsfield and Barry Thornton are the Louth representatives in the event as they have medalled three out of the last four years in the event. Meath and Kilkenny follow next as the inter-county debut of Evan Carry will be watched by all. Anthony Carroll, Anthony and Eamon Gibney, Paul O’Rourke and Niall Winters Jnr make up the Royal County side as Kilkenny are represented by Nicholas Brennan, James Casey, Derek Delaney, Michael Kehoe, Kevin Knox and Patrick Robinson Jnr.
Clare and Waterford
Former rivals for the old B Division Clare and Waterford are paired next as despite not taking part in the Munsters at senior level Clare will be in action this weekend with Billy Griffin, Ger Hanrahan, Tim O’Sullivan Niall Seery, Declan Sheedy and Martin Walsh representing the Banner County and Brian Farrell, Ian Flynn, Sean Hennerbry, Eddie Hennessy, Danny Sullivan and Robbie Walker making up the Deise side. Continuing the earlier theme of neighbouring counties teeing off together, Offaly and Westmeath will tee-off in the Scotch Foursomes next. The Faithful County were fourth overall in the tight finish at the Leinsters in Royal Meath, only a shot outside the Top Three.
Aengus Coughlan, Anthony Galvin, Denis Hill, Joe McGrath Jnr, Patrick Murphy and Darren O’Connell make up the Offaly side as Westmeath are represented by John Browne, Michael Carton, Gerry Coyne, Mark Kelly, Pat Malone and Stephen Ruane, still striving for a good showing at national level. Dublin will tee-off alongside Carlow in the Scotch Foursomes, disappointed to have lost their Leinster title in Royal Meath but still expecting to compete for the major honour as John Ross Crangle, Chris Gallagher, Jason Larkin, George McGreal, Paul Nolan and Junior Smith represent the capital in a 12 county field. The Metropolitans were Runners-Up last year in Deerpark and haven’t gone too many years with a medal this decade.
With all counties back in the same event it will add a degree of the unknown. Will the established counties still dominate the podium or will a new county emerge to upset the order? How will the leaders on Saturday evening handle the pressure and expectation overnight in what we all hope will be an exciting 72 hole affair.
With three interesting formats of play in Singles, Scotch Foursomes and Foursomes, it will be a great test of all players abilities both individually and in pairs as we await to see who will be in the winners enclosure come Sunday evening.
Best Wishes and a safe journey to all those travelling to McDonagh this weekend. We will have updates on play in both the Ladies and Gents events throughout both days and we hope to have a number of other features from the weekend itself.
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