Leinster Ladies Matchplay Championship Preview by Declan Sheedy
All roads lead to Trim this coming weekend where the Meath venue will host the Leinster Ladies Matchplay Championships. It is great to see all 3 ladies grade titles being competed for again this year and the excellent Trim course will without doubt deliver a fantastic championship venue and challenge for all competitors. Ahead of the weekends action we preview of the ladies draw and the matches we can to look forward to.
The senior championship kicks off at midday on Saturday where three quarter final matches will take place. The three winners from Saturday’s quarter finals will join Liz Quinn of Collinstown, who received a bye in the quarter finals, in the semi-finals scheduled for Sunday morning with the championship final scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
Kicking off the Ladies Championship on Saturday will be the match between Helen Gregsbey (Irene) and Mairead O’Toole (Poulaphouca). Both Helen and Mairead are two of the great supporters and players in the lady’s game and championships and between them have plenty of experience on the big championship occasion. Both ladies are strong and very consistent players which promises to make this a very interesting and evenly balanced match over the matchplay format. Don’t be surprised to see this match go the distance. Awaiting the winner of Helen and Mairead’s match on Sunday in the semi final will be Liz Quinn (Collinstown). Liz returns to senior championship action after a brief absence in recent years which is great to see. Liz is an excellent and determined match player and is recently off the back of a strong performance at the Gelders Open so will come into the weekend full of confidence and one can expect Liz to have a big say in the destiny of the title come Sunday afternoon.
In the bottom half of the draw, the second quarter final on Saturday will see Tara Dillon (Ryston) take on home player Bridie Cummins (Trim). Beaten finalist of 4 previous occasions including 2018 Tara hoping to go one better this year and claim her first Leinster senior matchplay title. Tara comes into the championship in excellent form off recent wins at the Ryston and St. Bridget’s scratch cups and will be considered one of the strong contenders for the title. Tara will however first have to get past Trims own Bridie Cummins who will without doubt have great home support over the weekend. Bridies in depth knowledge of the Trim course may prove invaluable come championship weekend and she will not fear the task ahead. Home advantage could prove the key in this match and Bridie may well have a big say in the destiny of the championship come Sunday afternoon.
The last quarter final game on Saturday pits defending champion Chrissie Byrne (Ryston) against Yvonne Carney (Castletown). Chrissie enters the championship boasting the remarkable record of having won 7 of the last 8 stagings of this championship and seeks to extend her record of titles to 9 this weekend. With several scratch cup wins already this season and her record in the event Chrissie must be regarded as the lady to beat this weekend. Aiming to stop Chrissie in round 1 is Castletown’s Yvonne Carney. Yvonne has already been in the prize winners circle this year at the Navan Scratch Cup so brings plenty of confidence with her into the weekend. The Meath player will have good knowledge and experience of the tricky Trim venue so will know her way around the course very well which should lead to a very interesting battle between the two ladies.
Can Chrissie continue her outstanding record in this event or will a new first time Leinster Senior Matchplay Champion be crowned in Trim on Sunday afternoon?
The inter championship kicks off at 12.15 on Saturday where all 4 quarter final matches will take place with the semi-finals scheduled for Sunday morning with the championship final scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
With the 2018 champion not entered this year one this is certain we will see a new Leinster Intermediate Ladies Champion crown by Sunday afternoon, the big question is who this will be?
First match in the quarter final sees Catherine Smith (St. Bridget’s) take on Suzanne Reilly (Oldcastle). This is expected to be an evenly matched battle between both ladies. Catherine is a regular competitor at provincial championship level and not be over awed by the occasion and could well have a big say in the where the title goes. Oldcastle’s Suzanne Reilly will be no stranger to the Trim course and will have played it many times in county championship so will enter this weekend confident she can tackle tricky course and have a big say in title. Match 2 is a Dublin versus Meath affair as Susan Ritchie (RGSC) takes on another player from the host club in Margaret Connelly (Trim). Susan is one of only two Dublin ladies entered in the Leinster match play this weekend (Helen Greagsbey being the other) but will no doubt be flying her clubs’ flag high this weekend and will be no surprise to see Susan put in a big challenge this weekend. Like Bridie Cummins in the Senior grade, Margaret is expected to have great support behind her over the weekend and with local knowledge of the tricky venue likely to be invaluable Margaret will know the course better than anyone. It would be no surprise if Margaret was battling of the honours come Sunday afternoon but she will have to overcome a stern challenge from Susan on Saturday first.
In the bottom half of the draw, match 3 bring together Frances Farrell (Kilineer) versus Norren Myles (Castletown). Beaten finalist in the 2018 junior championship France Farrell steps up a grade this year and takes on Norren Myles in round 1. Frances has an excellent record in the Leinster matchplay championships having won the Leinster junior title in 2017 and been a beaten finalist in both 2018 and 2016 so will relish the challenge of adding to her impressive record in the Inter grade this year. Her opponent in round 1 is the lady she beat at the 37th hole in the 2017 Leinster matchplay final, Noreen Myles, who will be hoping to reverse the result from that day. Noreen was the 2015 Leinster Inter Strokeplay champion so is no stranger to the championship weekend and a proven winner on the big occasion. Don’t be surprised to see this match head toward extra holes again. The last of the quarter finals matches sees Ann Fagan (Seapoint) take on her club mate Joanne Cooney (Seapoint). Another of the great supporters and players of the ladies’ game, Ann will enter the championship weekend will plenty of confidence after solid performances at scratch cups around the province so far this year. Knowing each other’s game so well Joanne will not be overwhelmed by the occasion or opponent and will certainly look forward to challenge over the tricky Trim course. A medallist in the Junior Leinster Strokeplay championship in 2018 Joanne knows how to compete on championship days and will enter the weekend with plenty of confidence. Another match that could to go the distance.
With a new champion to be crowned this weekend could the winner come from the host club or county or will the title travel outside of Meath? In a very open grade a winner is difficult to call but we will see some great battles over the weekend.
The junior championship kicks off at 12.35 on Saturday where all 4 quarter final matches will take place with the semi-finals scheduled for Sunday morning with the championship final scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
In the top half of the draw the first quarter final throws up a very intriguing club and indeed family clash as Dina Dillon (St. Bridget’s) takes on Catherine Dillon (St. Bridget’s). Both ladies will know each other’s game inside out and this and promises to be a very interesting match. Semi-finalist in the 2018 National Handicap Matchplay Dina is one of the best supporters of the game and a very popular figure on the P&P circuit. Dina has proven success over the match play format and will not be over awed by the occasion. Likewise, Catherine is no stranger to being in the winner’s circles at major championship having won the 2018 Leinster Mixed foursome championship with her husband Ian and will enter this championship with plenty of confidence. Who will have family bragging rights come Saturday is hard to call. The second quarter final is another clash between clubmates as Barbara Murphy (Seapoint) takes on Wendy Mary Mooney (Seapoint). Like the match before them, both ladies will be very familiar with each other games and will likely have faced each other on many occasions in Seapoint in match play format. Expect this match to be a very close affair coming down to potentially who can handle Trim tricky first 9 holes best.
In the bottom half, match 3 sees another lady represent the Seapoint club in the form of Jan Mooney (Seapoint) taking on Sandra Connor (Navan). Jan along with her other clubmates in the Inter and Junior championship will enter this weekend with plenty of confidence with the goal to bring a few titles back to Termonfeckin. Standing in Jan’s way in round one is Navan’s Sandra Connor. Sandra will have played the challenging Trim course on many occasions and this knowledge may prove the key over the weekend. This is another match where it would be no surprised to see the go the distance or even to extra holes. Final match in the junior championship brings together defending junior champion Audrey Donnelly (McBride) and Trish Fox (Rochfortbridge). Following her sudden death playoff win in last year’s championship Audrey will be determined to put up a very strong defence of her title and enters the championship in excellent form having claimed the lady’s prizes at last weekend’s scratch cup in McBride. Audrey must be considered a strong contender to be challenging again for silverware come Sunday afternoon but will have her work cut out in round one against Westmeath’s Trish Fox. Trish will be no stranger to playing in big championships and on big occasions and will relish the challenge ahead. Like several the other matches this match is difficult call and expect to see this battled out of the final few holes on Saturday.
Can Audrey claim back to back Junior titles, could we see an all Seapoint final or will we be crowned another first-time provincial champion on Sunday afternoon. Great matches in store in what will be a very competitive grade.
Munster Ladies Matchplay Championship Preview by Declan Sheedy
Larkspur Park plays host the Munster Ladies Matchplay Championships this coming next weekend. Like Leinster it is great to see all 3 ladies grade titles being competed for again this year and we are in store for some great matches over the weekend. Ahead of the weekends action we conduct a preview of the ladies draw and the matches to look forward to.
The senior championship kicks off on Saturday with two prelim rounds where the winners will progress to the semi-final to be played on Sunday morning following by the finals later in the afternoon. Despite a relatively small field this championship grade is filled with top quality players and promises to be an excellent championship.
The first of Saturday preliminary matches on Saturdays see an all Cork affairs as Paula Nolan (Rockledge) takes on Sarah McGrath (Fermoy). Both ladies are no strangers to the success at provincial championships with Sarah winning the Munster Inter Strokeplay in 2013 and Paula being runner up in the same event in 2012 so both will know what it takes to challenge at the top level. A very consistent player, Paula will not be overawed by the challenge ahead and expect to see her contend strongly over the weekend. Over the last 5 years Sarah had steadily established herself as one of the top senior players in the province and an ever-present strong performer at championships. It would be no surprise to see Sarah seriously challenge for the title on Sunday afternoon, but she much first overcome this tricky first match. Awaiting either Paula or Sarah on Sunday in the first semi-final will be Lakesides Martha O’Brien. 2012 Munster Senior Strokeplay champion and 2-time runner up in this senior event including last year, Martha will be hoping to go on better this year and claim the silverware. One of the country’s top senior lady players, Martha will relish the one on one match play format and will be very familiar with the Cashel venue which could prove key over the weekend. Martha must be considered one of the favourites for this event but will face stiff competition in the semi-final whoever she faces.
Our second prelim match on Saturday on paper promises to deliver a classic match play encounter between defending champion Mary Murray (Rocklodge) and Gemma McCarthy (Hillview). Mary has firmly established herself as one of Ireland top players over recent years and comes into the championship on great form following recent wins of the ladies’ scratch cups in St Stephen and the Cork County Board in St Annes. It will be no surprise to see Mary put up a very strong defence of her title. She will however to overcome the very strong challenge of Gemma McCarthy in round 1. It is great to see Gemma return to senior championship events after a few years absence but will come into the championship full of confidence as a prize winner recently at the Lakeside scratch cup last week. Gemma will know the Larkspur venue very well and will look forward to the challenge of facing the defending champion. Expect to see this match go down to the wire. In the second semi-final on Sunday Vera McCarthy (Collins) will eagerly await the winner of Mary and Gemma’s game. The 2005 Munster Senior Matchplay Champion is one of the great supporters and players of the lady’s game in Ireland over the last number of decades. Ever present on the Cork Intercounty teams, Vera continues to compete at the highest level in the lady’s games and will be a serious contender for the title come Sunday. Whether it is Mary or Gemma that comes through on Sat it is certain they face a very serious test on Sunday against Vera.
This senior championship promises to be very competitive. Mary Murray will be determined to claim back to back titles but with the field full of provincial champions this is wide open, and we are in store for a great championship.
A total of 11 ladies compete for the Munster Intermediate title bringing on Saturday at 11.30 with 3 prelim matchplay followed by the quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon. Semi-final and final to take place on Sunday.
First of the prelim matches is an all Tipp battle which sees Frances Ryan (Lakeside) take on Margaret Courtney (Riverdale). Both ladies will know the Cashel course very well, so both will enter knowing the shots needed around the challenging Larkspur course. Winner in 1994 and runner up in 2017 of the Munster Inter Strokeplay final plus regular member of the Tipperary Intercounty team, Frances knows what is needed to win on championship days and will be a strong contender for the title. She however faces a lady in Margaret Courtney who has proven herself to be an excellent match player having twice been runner up in the Munster Junior championship in 2017 and 2015. Less than a month ago Margaret won the ladies scratch cup in Larkspur so will be full of confidence returning the venue as a proven winner over the course. The winner of this first prelim match will play the winner of the next prelim match in the 4th match of the quarter finals between Lisa O’Connor (Tralee) and Patsy O’Donavan (Collins). It is fantastic to see Lisa fly the flag for Kerry ladies pitch and putt and Lisa will come into this weekend championship full of confidence that she can challenge strongly come Sunday evening. Having made it to the semi-finals of the National Ladies Handicap Matchplay finals in 2018 in Tullamore Lisa has a proven track record in the matchplay format and may be one to watch this weekend. Facing Lisa is another of the great supporters and player in the lady’s game, Patsy O’Donovan. Runner up in this championship in 2017 and member of Corks Intercounty teams over the years Patsy continues to play at the highest level in the lady’s game and will enter this championship with the experience and confident required and will have a major say in the destiny of the title come Sunday afternoon.
The third prelim match pairs together Cork intercounty team mates in the form of Sarah O’Neill (Collins) and defending champion Mairead Manning (St. Stephens). Mairead is quickly establishing herself as a serious contender in all championships in recent years having won the 2018 National Inter Strokeplay title as well as this championship last year adding to previous National Junior titles so will know what is needed to defend her title this weekend. Sarah is another Cork player that has progressed through the ladies ranks in recent years and has gained plenty of experience of competing at the highest levels in the ladies’ game including playing on Cork Intercounty teams. This promises to be an interesting battle between the two ladies and one that could go the distance. Awaiting the winner of this match in the first match of the quarter final will be Elaine Quinn (Lakeside). The Templemore player comes into this event as reigning 2018 National Handicap Matchplay champion so has proven success at national level over the matchplay formats. Elaine won the Munster Mixed Foursomes championship in 2018 with Michael Fennell so again knows what’s needed to win and must be regarded as a very strong contender for the title this weekend
The 2nd match of Saturday afternoons quarter finals will see Margaret Forde (Riverdale) take on Ailish Sexton (Fermoy). This match between the two ladies promises to be a very evenly balanced match and difficult to call a winner of this one. Margaret enters this championship off the back of some impressive wins at Parteen and Johnny Shoer scratches cup in the last month so will hope to bring her excellent performances into this weekend on a course she will know well. Margaret could be one to watch this weekend. Ailish is another lady however who will have a big say come Sunday afternoon. Beaten finalist in this championship last year on the 39th hole Alisha will be aiming to go on better this year. An experienced and consistent player, Ailish has plenty of experience on championship weeks and a proven excellent matchplayer. This promises to be a very close battle.
The 3rd match in Saturday’s quarter finals has drawn another excellent match between Phil Downey (Collins) V Mary Quinn (Lakeside). Phil comes in this championship as the 2018 National Inter Strokeplay champion and will be hoping to add another major championship to her list of honours. Another great Cork player Phil will not fear the challenge ahead and like many of the others is a serious contender for the title. She much first get past Lakesides Mary Quinn. Mary is an ever-present player at the major lady’s championship and one of the most consistent players in the game. 2007 & 2008 Munster Junior Strokeplay champion and runner up on 3 occasions in the Munster Inter Strokeplay championship Mary knows how to compete at the highest level and it would not be any surprise to see Mary compete for the title on Sunday afternoon. An excellent match in store.
A wide-open championship with excellent matches everywhere. Can Mairead Manning complete win back to back titles, will we see a winner come from the six Tipperary ladies or will see crown a new ladies champion from elsewhere.
The junior championship kicks off on Saturday with a straight quarter final and with the semi-final to be played on Sunday morning following by the finals later in the afternoon. Great to see this championship grade being supported and we are in store for a very close and competitive championship.
Match 1 sees a Tipperary v Limerick clash between Rose Butler (Hillview) and Margaret O’Donovan (Braff). Rose should know the Larkspur course well from county championshis and event which will be invaluable over the weekend around the challenging Cashel course. Rose will enter the weekend confident of a strong performance. Facing Rose is Limericks Margaret O’Donovan. Margaret is one of the best supporters of the lady’s game in the province and ever present at major championships. It is fantastic to see Margaret fly the flag for Limerick ladies P&P and she will have plenty of experience to put up a very strong challenge for this title come Sunday. Match 2 pits Veronica Anglim (Hillview) up against Mary Ann Byrne (Fermoy). Like match 1, Veronica will enter the championship with strong knowledge of the Larkspur course having played in many times at county level and will certainly put up a strong and determined challenge over the weekend as she seeks to lift the silverware on Sunday. Her opponent is Mary Ann Byrne from the Fermoy club in Cork. Mary Ann may be relatively new to major championship weekends, but she will not be overawed by the challenge ahead and will come into the weekend full of confidence of a strong performance. A solid performer in Cork and Fermoy, Mary Ann will relish the match play format and expect to see her having a big say come Sunday.
In the bottom half of the draw and match 3 we see Nuala McNamara (Collins) take on Lily O’Brien (Lakeside). This promises to be another excellent match between two of the great supporters of lady’s pitch and putt. Nuala is a very steady and consistent player in Cork and her home course of Collins and she will be looking forward to the match play format this weekend where she is certainly one to watch out for in this championship. Nuala must first get past the challenge of Lily O’Brien. Known around the country Lily is one of the very popular figures in ladies pitch and putt but she is also one of the most determined and competitive match players in the game. Lily will know the Larkspur course as well as anyone and will be hoping she can make it a family double this weekend by lifting the junior title while supporting Martha in the senior championship. A match that is hard to call. The final quarterfinal match pairs Frances Mackey (Hillview) against Josie McCormack (Lakeside). Another all Tipp affairs and another match that is expected to be a very close battle. Like her other two clubmates in this championship Frances course knowledge may be key and what will be needed to challenge for the title on Sunday. Frances will be hoping she will form part of an all Hillview final based on the draw. Josie McCormack however will be aiming to prevent the all Hillview final and brings plenty of experience of championship and competitions with her to the weekend. A member of the successful Lakeside Interclub teams in the recent years, Josie will very much look forward to the match play format again and must be considered a serious contender of the title this weekend.
Sunday will see a new junior champion crowned but who will it be? Can one of the five Tipperary ladies claim the crown, or will we see the title leave the Premier county and head for Cork or Limerick? One thing is for sure is that we are in for another exciting championship.
We wish all the ladies competing over the weekend the very best of luck and hope all enjoy the championship weekend.
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