2019 National Inter-County Championships Build-Up: Day Two

A look at the Ladies event

2019 National Inter-County Championships Build-Up: Day Two image

2019 National Ladies Inter-County Preview

By Declan Sheedy

The McDonagh club in Kildare will play host to the 50th staging of the National Ladies Inter-County Championship which was first contested at the very same venue in 1970. Dublin were the victorious back in 1970 with Meath taking the Runner-Up spots and both counties will be represented again this year hoping they can feature in the medals this year too. Six counties are entered this year with Meath returning to the Championship after an absence in 2018.


While it would have been hoped one or two more counties would have made a return to the National Inter-County scene, the six teams entered promise to deliver one of the most competitive championships in several years. Hosts Kildare will be looking to complete the three in row having lifted the Cup in Ryston in 2017 and Deerpark in 2018, a feat last achieved when Kildare themselves won four successive titles between 2005–2008. The last 10 years of the Championship have seen Kildare, Dublin, Cork and Tipperary all lift the title at some point reflecting how competitive this championship currently is and we can expect the same in McDonagh this coming weekend. 2019 sees the introduction of a nett prize into the mix which is an excellent addition to the prizes on offer for the ladies over the weekend.


The format of the Ladies Championship is 36 holes Scotch Foursomes being played on Saturday, all Scotch Foursomes scores to count and 18 holes Singles Strokeplay on Sunday with the best five out of six singles cards to count.


Ahead of the weekends play we take look at each of the counties entered and their players.

*Note the players named on the teams below are subject to change before start of play on Saturday and are the expected teams at the time of writing this article.




Defending champions and recent 2019 Leinster Inter-County Champions Kildare enter with the same team which won by seven shots over Dublin in Deerpark last year. Kildare will be represented by Ireland’s #1 ranked player Chrissie Byrne, Irelands #5 ranked player Tara Dillon, Marion Courtney, Mary Donnelly, Mairead O’Toole and Betty Smyth. 11-time winners of this Championship, Kildare have only been outside the Top Two once in the last 24 years and will be hoping to extend that record further this weekend. While none of the ladies are from the McDonagh club, home county advantage cannot be underestimated as all players will be familiar with the course and with such an excellent record in the Championship Kildare will on merit enter as favorites this weekend to complete the three-in-a-row. The Kildare Ladies bring a wealth of National Inter-County experience to the weekend with Marian Courtney having been on all 11 of Kildares wins in this Championship, Tara Dillon has 10 wins, Chrissie Byrne nine wins, Mairead O’Toole five wins, Mary Donnelly four wins and Betty Smyth one win. The Kildare ladies have several players in the team capable of shooting low scores in the Singles therefore they will be hoping they aren’t too far off the top of the leaderboard by Saturday evening. Expect at least another Top Two finish from the Lilywhites. If they are to make it three-in-a-row expect it however to be closely fought out to the very end.





Over the 49-year history of the Championship one county stands above all others in terms of wins and that is Dublin. With an amazing 21 wins in the Championship history, the Dublin Ladies can never be overlooked for the title and 2019 is no different. Dublin will be represented by Irelands #2 ranked player Ger Ward along with Glenda Hoey, Shelagh Elmes, Phil Condron, Pauline Balfe and Helen Greagsby. Runner-Up to Kildare in the last two National Inter-Counties and having been narrowly beaten in Royal Meath by two shots last month in the Leinster Inter-County Championship by Kildare again, Dublin will be keen to go one in better in McDonagh and reclaim the national title they last won in 2016 in RGSC. The 2019 team is filled with experienced players at National Inter-County championship level led by Ger Ward who has been on 14 winning Dublin teams. Ger’s club-mate Sheelagh follows closely behind with 12 winners medals while Glenda, Helen and Phil all have one winners medal each from 2009, 2011 and 2016 respectively. The McDonagh venue will be familiar to the Dublin ladies with it not being too far down the M7 motorway so they will know their way around the course well. Ever consistent in these championships we can expect Dublin to be a very serious contender this weekend and hard to see them outside the Top Three. If they can get their noses ahead after the Scotch Foursomes it may be hard to catch them over the Singles format.  





Two-time winners of this Championship, Hillview (2013) and Tipperary Hills (1990), the Ladies from the Premier County will be hoping to top of an excellent year for Tipperary in Ladies Singles P&P and win the Inter-County team title for the first time outside of Tipperary. On paper this team looks like they could be the team to beat this year and may well enter the weekend as many people’s favorites to take the title back to Munster. A member of both the previous Tipperary teams Breda White will again put on the Tipperary jersey alongside the 2019 National Senior Strokeplay winner and Irelands #3 ranked player Martha O’Brien. They will be joined on the team by Mary Quinn plus three members of the same family in Shula, Gemma and Michelle McCarthy. Winners of the 2019 Munster Inter-County, the Tipperary Ladies will come into the weekend with plenty of confidence they can claim their third Ladies National Inter-County title. The key to their success may lie within the strength they may have in the ranks come the Singles on Sunday. Like all the teams they will not want to leave themselves with too much to do come Saturday evening and if they are within a few shots of the lead after the Scotch Foursomes they have a big chance to close out victory over the singles. A Top Three finish at minimum would be expected.





Cork are seven-time winners of the National Inter-County which they last won in the weather disrupted championship in Douglas in 2015. The Cork Ladies have finished third on each of the last three stagings of this Championship and they return to McDonagh this year with another solid team which will be keen to at minimum medal again. Ireland’s #4 ranked player and 2019 National Matchplay winner Mary Murray will fly the Cork flag alongside team-mates Sarah McGrath, Sarah O’Neill, Mairead Manning, Ailish Sexton and Valerie Leahy. With a proud history and record in this championship one can never rule out any Cork team and this team comes into the championship somewhat under the radar which may well be in their favor. This team is made up of Ladies all with National Championship experience and titles to their names so they will all know what it takes to win on the big stage and get across the winning line. We can expect to see another strong and determined showing again from Cork and for anyone to overlook their chances would be making a big mistake. Expect to see a strong showing in the Scotch Foursomes on Saturday in particular. Whether they have the depth in the team to be score low overall in the singles and to lift the cup Sunday we will have to wait see. A team to watch out for.





For four-time winners Meath, one must go back to 1989 for the last time the Meath Ladies lifted the title when it was played in Royal Meath. Since then it has been a relatively quiet spell for the Royal County outside of a few third place finishes in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s but following a year’s absence last year in Deerpark it is great to see Meath return to Inter-County action this weekend as they aim to restore the glory years of the 1980’s. This year’s team will be represented by Kathleen Geraghty, Cathy Richardson, Anne Bird, Christine Morgan, Margaret Conneely and Yvonne Carney. Following a solid team performance in the 2019 Leinster Inter-County where they picked up the nett prize, the Meath Ladies will be aiming to continue to build on that experience as they head to McDonagh, a course they should be familiar with. This is a team made up of experienced players all capable of low scoring on their day. The Scotch Foursomes will be key for the Meath Ladies where they will be hoping to put in solid team scoring to keep in touch before Sunday’s Singles. A Championship win may be a fraction too far for the Meath Ladies this weekend but as in sport no team can be totally ruled out and one thing is certain that this team will give it everything to beat the odds. Could surprise a few.





A great supporter of the Ladies Inter-County Championship, it may come as a surprise to some that Louth’s only medal in this Championship was a runner up place in 1994 to Dublin when played in Seapoint. This year’s team will be represented by Mary Agnew, Noeleen Bedford, Marlo Everitt, Barbara Murphy, Wendy Mooney and Bridie Hanratty as the Louth Ladies will be hoping to add their names into the records books of this Championship. Despite featuring outside the medals in the Leinster Inter-County last month, the team will be hoping to put in a good performance in McDonagh this weekend. While the Louth Ladies may lack the firepower of some of the other counties they have players experienced at Championship level and with several players from the same club, the 36 hole Scotch Foursomes format and the longer nature of the McDonagh course may play to Louth’s advantage. While possibly short a couple of players to challenge for the title, they certainly cannot be overlooked for the nett prize on offer. One thing is certain the Louth Ladies will as allows give 100% for their county.


We wish all the players taking part this weekend all the very best while representing your counties with honor.


Tomorrow: Jason O’Connor previews the Gents event.