PROVINCIAL LADIES STROKEPLAY CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
By Declan Sheedy
Ahead of the Leinster and Munster Ladies Strokeplay Championship this weekend we conduct a preview of each of the Ladies grades in both provinces. The Munster Ladies Championship takes place on Saturday June 15th in Listowel with the Leinster Ladies Championship being held on Sunday June 16th in Kilbeggan. We encourage as many as possible to come out to watch and support the ladies over the weekend and we wish the best of luck to everyone participating at both venues.
Munster Senior Ladies @ Listowel – Saturday June 15th
Despite the small entry this is a top-quality field and very open senior championship. With Listowel presenting a neutral championship venue, all five ladies entered in this grade will have a strong chance in challenging for the title. Favourite coming into the weekend will likely be the defending champion Mary Murray (Rocklodge) following her dramatic win on the final green at the National Matchplay Championship only two weeks ago. Mary enters on top form having played some brilliant pitch and putt over the match play weekend and will be full of confidence she can retain her title.
Seven times winner of this senior title Breda White (Tipp Hills) however will be a very serious contender on Saturday as Breda too comes in off the back of a strong showing two weeks ago in the matchplay as she aims to add to her excellent record in this championship. Lakeside’s Martha O’Brien seeks to complete the 2019 Munster Senior Ladies double by adding the Strokeplay title to her Matchplay title she claimed in Larkspur in May and can be excepted to put in a serious claim for the title and to complete the double. Completing the line up in the senior grade are Cork duo Sarah McGrath (Fermoy) and Vera McCarthy (Collins). Both ladies also competed in the National Matchplay only two weeks ago and despite exiting in the round of 16, both Sarah and Vera put in excellent performances against their opponents and will certainly have a big say in this weekend’s championship.
The neutral venue sets this championship grade up for an excellent battle between all 5 ladies and is a very difficult one call. Expect a handful of shots to separate all 5 at the end of play.
Munster Inter Ladies @ Listowel – Saturday June 15th
The Intermediate section sees 15 ladies stake their claim for provincial championship glory in what promises to be another very open championship grade. Defending champion Bridget Shelley (Lakeside) will be hoping to become the first lady to successfully defend the Munster Inter Strokeplay title in its history and can be expected to put up a strong defence. To retain her title, she will have to fend off strong challenges from three of her Lakeside clubmates in the form of the 2019 Munster Inter Matchplay champion Mary Quinn, who has been runner up in this championship on 3 occasions, 1994 Munster Inter Strokeplay champion Frances Ryan and 2018 National Nett Matchplay champion Elaine Quinn. Expect to see at least one Lakeside lady feature in the prize winner circle at the end of play. Tipperary clubs will also be represented by Margaret Forde (Riverdale).
Margaret won the Munster Junior Strokeplay title in 2017 and will be hoping to add the Inter title to her cv this weekend. In addition to the 5 contenders from Tipperary, this weekend sees 5 ladies challenge from Cork and Kerry clubs. Sarah O’Neill (Collins) comes into this championship off the back of an excellent season so far having clinched the National Nett Matchplay title 2 weeks ago in Rocklodge plus narrowly losing in the final of the Munster Inter Matchplay to Mary Quinn thus will be considered one of the favourites for this title. 2018 National Inter Strokeplay Champion Mairead Manning (St. Stephens) cannot be overlooked as she continues to progress up the ladies ranks and will be expected to feature at the top end of the leader board come Saturday evening. 2019 Cork Strokeplay champion Ailish Sexton (Fermoy) will be hoping to add more silverware this weekend and is another to watch out for this weekend, as are Patsy O’Donovan (Collins) and Paula Nolan (Rocklodge).
Patsy enters after an excellent performance in the National Nett Matchplay where she was runner up to Sarah O’Neill and Paula too come into the championship after a very good showing in the National Scratch Matchplay where she got to the quarterfinals. Both ladies have the skills and experience to have a big say in the destiny of the title. It is fantastic to see Kerry being presented by 5 ladies in this year’s championship from the Deerpark and Tralee clubs. Lisa O’Connor (Tralee) is a regular competitor in championship finals in recent years and has been a prize winner in the provincial foursome championships in the past so will know what is needed to win. Lisa’s familiarity with the Listowel course may prove very important on a course many will not have played very often. Deerparks quartet of Margaret C Looney, Margaret B Looney, Shelia O’Donoghue and Betty O’Brien complete the line-up. All four ladies, like Lisa, will have strong knowledge of the Listowel course and can be expected to put in a good showing in the hope of keeping the cup in the Kingdom. Hopefully this is the start of the resurgence of lady’s pitch and putt in Kerry at future championships, which would be fantastic to see.
Truly a wide-open championship grade. To be seen if the key to success and advantage lies with the Tralee and Deerpark competitors given their county knowledge of the course or will the battle for medals be fought out between the ladies from Cork and Tipperary. Who ends up with what colour medals is difficult to call.
Munster Junior Ladies @ Listowel – Saturday June 15th
The Junior section sees 7 ladies from 4 counties do battle for the title. One thing is for sure a new champion will be crowned this year as 2018 champion Sive Shelley does not compete. It is great to see the host club of Listowel being represented in this grade by Lisa McDonagh. Lisa will know the course better than anyone this weekend and it is this knowledge that could well prove invaluable in destiny of the title. Deerpark’s Eileen Switzer is the second Kerry representative in this grade and one can expect a good showing from Eileen in her bid for the title. Riverdale duo Liz Forde and Catherine Dunne are no strangers to championship finals and with their experience will both be fancied to challenge very strongly come Saturday afternoon.
Likely to enter as favourite for the title will be Josie McCormack (Lakeside) as she bid to complete the Munster Junior Championship double having won the matchplay title in Larkspur Park in May. Expect to see Josie having a big say in this championship. Bruff’s Margaret O’Donovan is an excellent supporter of the championships each year and Margaret enters Listowel off a very good showing at the recent National Nett Matchplay where she was a beaten semi-finalist. It would be no surprise to see Margaret very close to the prize-winners circle again this weekend. Completing the junior section is Nuala McNamara (Collins). Another great supporter of the lady’s game, Nuala has all the skills and experience needed for the championship weekend and can be expected to score well.
Excitement in this grade will be heightened by host club representation where they will be hoping the title can stay in the Kingdom. Josie will be hoping she can complete the double but what is for certain is that all other ladies competing have their eyes firmly set on bringing the title back to their clubs too. Close championship in prospect.
Leinster Senior Ladies @ Kilbeggan – Saturday June 16th
19 ladies compete for the Leinster Senior Strokeplay title with 5 previous winners participating this year. Defending champion and 8-time winner of this title Geraldine Ward (Portmarnock) begins her defence alongside Kathleen Geraghty (Skyrne) and Maree O’Toole (Shandon). Not surprisingly Ger will probably enter the championship as favourite to retain her title and add to her impressive list of honours in this championship but will have to be at the top of her game in this very competitive grade. Kathleen and Maree are both very accomplished players and cannot be overlooked this weekend in their bids of the title. 7-times winner of this title, Margaret Hogan (Tullamore), who last won in 2001 will know the Kilbeggan course probably better than anyone in the field and comes off the back of reaching the semi final of the National Matchplay and will be considered as another of the favourites to lift the title again in Kilbeggan.
Margaret tees off alongside Cathy Richardson (Bellewstown) and Glenda Hoey (RGSC), who enters the weekend off the back of an excellent win the Dublin Strokeplay last weekend. Another multiple winner of this title, 6 in total, Chrissie Byrne (Ryston) will be hoping to complete the 2019 Leinster Senior double having won the matchplay title in Trim last month. Chrissie also returns to the course where she won her first ever adult championship title, the Leinster Junior Strokeplay in 1999, when Kilbeggan last hosted this lady’s championship so will be hoping for more title success at the same venue this weekend. Chrissie tees off alongside Pauline Balfe (Old County) and Yvonne Carney (Castletown). Both Pauline and Yvonne have been playing well this season so far and will be hoping for a strong showing this weekend. 2004 champion Tara Dillon (Ryston) will be hoping to second title to her name this weekend and go one better that the last 2 years where she was runner up on both occasions. Tara plays alongside Liz Quinn (Collinstown) who will be hoping county knowledge and experience of Kilbeggan will prove the key to her claiming her first title. Sheelagh Elms (Portmarnock) aims to win her second senior title and bridge a 33-year gap since her last win in Seapoint in 1986.
Sheelagh begins her title challenge alongside Elizabeth Smyth (St. Bridget’s). Elizabeth, a National Intercounty winner with Kildare last years, should not be overlooked this weekend and should score well. Other competitors playing this weekend all of whom will a big say in the destiny of the title are Dublin trio Siobhan Keely (RGSC), Phil Condron (Lucan) and Helen Greagsbey (Irene). Helen was narrowly beaten on the final hole in the matchplay championship last month so seeks to go one better this weekend while Siobhan and Phil, both former Dublin Intercounty players, can be expected to score well. In addition to Chrissie and Tara, Kildare clubs are represented by Mairead O’Toole (Poulaphouca) and Mary Donnelly (Ryston). Kildare intercounty winning team mates, Mairead and Mary are both very experienced players and it would not be a surprise if one of them featured amongst the medals. Meath’s final representative in the field is Bridie Cummins (Trim) who is a very solid player and should perform well this Sunday.
This is a very open championship with the Kilbeggan course offering a relative neutral venue of the competitors. On paper it could suggest that we may see one of former winners lift the title again come Sunday evening but do not be surprised if a first-time champion is crowned in what is a very strong field who will do battle over the excellent Kilbeggan course.
Leinster Inter Ladies @ Kilbeggan – Saturday June 16th
The Intermediate section sees an excellent entry with 31 ladies (10 Meath, 7 Dublin, 6 Offaly, 5 Kildare and 3 Westmeath) take part to become Leinster Inter Strokeplay Champion. Like the senior grade this year’s field sees 6 previous Leinster Intermediate Strokeplay champions participating, all hoping to add second title to their name. 2016 winner Sandra Keogh (Lucan), 2015 winner Noreen Myles (Castletown), 2012 winner Ann Bird (Laytown), 2009 winner Kathleen Croke (Lucan), 2000 winner Annie Galvin (Tullamore) and 1995 winner Bernie Dunne (McDonagh) will be all out to lift the cup again.
We also see several players who were runner ups in his championship grade all hoping to go one better this year and add their name to the list of champions. These are 2017 runner up Catherine Smith (St. Bridget’s), 2016 runner up Mary Sherry (St. Bridget’s) and 2015 runner up Mary Fulham (Shandon). The host club Kilbeggan will have two representatives in the field both with strong hopes of clinching the title on home soil and hoping local knowledge is the key to success. They are Kathleen Carton and Veronica Clarke of the Kilbeggan club and it would be no surprise to see at least one of the ladies feature in the medals at the end of play. Expect a strong challenge from the remaining Westmeath lady in the field, Mildred Kelly (Custume) who will know the course very well. Meath’s other challengers this weekend come in the form of four ladies from the Oldcastle club players Margaret O’Reilly, Annette Dooner, Suzanne Reilly and Paula Lynch along with Royal Meath duo Teresa Fagan and Margaret Delahunty plus Marie Black (Bellowstown). Margaret Connelly (Trim) comes in of the back of a strong performance in the Leinster Matchplay where she was narrowly beaten in the final so will be aiming to go one better this weekend.
All 10 ladies from Meath can be expected to challenge strongly and don’t be surprised if some medal were head across the board to Meath Sunday evening. In addition to the two previous winners, Lucan will be well represented by Barbara Furlong, Angela Shanahan and Brenda Purcell. Barbara is an experienced intercounty player with Dublin and put in a good showing in the National Scratch Matchplay recently despite an early exit but will be one of the fancied players for the title in Kilbeggan. Dunshaughlin’s Christine Morgan completes the challengers from Dublin and she be hoping for a good performance at the weekend. Previous runner up in the Leinster Senior Strokeplay championship Rose Kelly (Ryston) has all the experience and skills to challenge and will relish the challenge ahead.
Prosperous is represented by Marian McCormack hoping to bring another provincial lady’s title back to Kildare where many ladies titles have found their way back to in recent years. Offaly clubs are well represented by the Ferbane trio of players in the form of Mary Nally, Geraldine Ryan and Kathleen O’Lone all of whom will know the Kilbeggan course well and all the shots that will be needed to navigate the course particularly if the wind blows at the weekend. Alongside Annie Galvin, Tullamore are represented by Lucy Galvin and Christine McCarthy. Both ladies will be relishing the challenge ahead and both can be expected to put in a strong showing on Sunday in a bid to claim the title on the Kilbeggan course which is only a few miles from their home course.
With multiple previous winners and runner ups of this championship, intercounty players, host club players and many other top players taking part this weekend it really is difficult call where the title will end up. Expect it to be decided by a shot or two at the end of play.
Leinster Junior Ladies @ Kilbeggan – Sunday June 16th
Great to see such a strong showing and field in this grade as 24 ladies are set to battle it out for the Leinster Junior title. 2018 champion Ina O’Donnell (Gowan) will set out hoping to replicate her fantastic win last year in Gowran which was a great win not only for herself but for ladies’ pitch and putt in Kilkenny. Ina can be expected to put up a stern defence of her title this weekend in Kilbeggan. Aiming to take the title off Ina but retain in the club are 4 other challengers from Gowran in the form of Stasia Heaphy, Marie Power, Patsy Kirk and Chrissie Keating. Ladies pitch and putt in Kilkenny is certainly on the up and it may not be a surprise to see more medals head for the Gowran club this weekend.
Host club Kilbeggan will represented by Adeline Revins, Anne Clarke and Maureen Clarke this weekend. All three ladies will know their way around the course better than anyone and backed by strong home support all are expected to have a major say in this championship. No surprise if more than one medal were to end up in the club come Sunday evening. Glenville bring a strong challenge to Kilbeggan represented by Eileen Cousins, Christine Mulvey, Breda Boyle, Dolores Mullen and Catherine Fox. Of the Glenville ladies Christine Mulvey enters the weekend full of confidence having won the Dublin Junior Strokeplay title last weekend and having made the semi-final of the National Nett Matchplay two week ago so can be expected feature as will her other clubmates. Lucan’s Patricia Anderson winner of this championship in 2017 completes the challenge from Dublin clubs and will be aiming to claim back her title she relinquished last year. Kildare is represented by the St. Bridget’s trio of Dina Dillon, Catherine Dillon and Ann Sweeney.
All three ladies are no strangers to championship finals with Ann having won the 2018 National Junior Seniors Strokeplay title from Dina, so all have the experience and skills required to put in a big challenge for the title this weekend. Trish Fox (Rochfortbridge), Ailish Reilly (Oldcastle) and Sandra Connor (Navan) complete the challengers from Meath clubs. The three ladies are expected to put in a good showing and will know what it will take to cross the winning line. Ferbane’s Ann Minogue has been runner up in this championship grade in 2015 and 2016 so aims to go one better this year and claim the gold this year. Given her record Ann will enter as one of the players fancied to at least medal again this Sunday.
Ann’s club Eileen Guerin from Ferbane will be hoping she too can medal in a grade Ferbane players have done very well in, in recent years. Lynda Carton (Tullamore) will hope local knowledge of the Kilbeggan will play to her advantage which could well lead to a strong challenge come Sunday afternoon. Last by not least completing the line up is Audrey Donnelly (McBride). 2018 Leinster Junior Matchplay champion and beaten semi-finalist in Trim this year, Audrey is establishing herself as a regular at the championship finals putting in solid performances on a consistent basis. Knowing what it takes to win a provincial title expect to see Audrey put in a big challenge in Kilbeggan.
Will the title remain in Kilbeggan come Sunday evening with a home club player, will it return to Kilkenny or will we see a first-time championship winner be crowned Sunday afternoon? Only time will tell but expect another very tight champion where every shot may prove vital when all scores are added up at the end of play.
Tommorrow: We look ahead to the Gents events in both provinces
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