2023 National Strokeplay Championship Build-Up: Day Two

Declan Sheedy previews the three Ladies grades this weekend

2023 National Strokeplay Championship Build-Up: Day Two image

All roads lead to Tipperary this weekend for the National Ladies Strokeplay Championship.  On Saturday the Lakeside club in Templemore will play host to the National Junior Strokeplay Championship while on the same day Riverdale in Nenagh welcome the ladies for the National Intermediate Strokeplay Championship. 

On Sunday, Riverdale will be the venue for the National Senior Strokeplay Championship in what promises to be a weekend of top class ladies pitch and putt played over two excellent but challenging courses.  With the format for the Ladies championship being played over the shorter 36-hole format, all the players will be hoping for quick starts in their quests for glory.  Avoiding any early errors will be key to staying in the running given the very competitive fields taking part. 

In what promises to be an excellent and exciting weekend of Championship Pitch & Putt, Declan Sheedy previews each of the three Ladies’ Championship and fields entered.


Senior Ladies Championship @ Riverdale (Sunday 13th August)

No fewer than eight previous National Senior Strokeplay champions will tee it up on Sunday in Riverdale in a field of 23 players all seeking to inscribe their names on the cup again.  Defending champion and a lady who has not finished outside the top two in the last five National Senior Strokeplay Championships Chrissie Sheedy (Ryston) will be out to claim her fifth title  

Chrissie tees it up alongside the lady who has taken the ladies senior grade by storm this year winning the National Ladies Matchplay and the Leinster Senior Strokeplay Championship, Paula Lynch (Oldcastle). All eyes will be on Paula to see if she can claim a third Senior Ladies’ Championship in as many months and her first Senior Strokeplay championship. Chrissie and Paula will be joined by Louise Grace (RGSC) on Sunday.

The most decorated National Senior Strokeplay champion Geraldine Ward (Portmarnock) will be out to make it 12 titles if she can win in Riverdale on Sunday with her last victory in this championship coming in 2021. In the group with Geraldine will be Sarah O’Neill (Collins) who won the National Intermediate Strokeplay title last year in Fermoy, and will be aiming to complete the set of Strokeplay titles should she win the senior title on Sunday having also won the National Junior Strokeplay crown back in 2014.  National Seniors Intermediate winner Mary Quinn (Lakeside) will complete this three-ball. 

Five time champion Margaret Hogan (Tullamore) was the winner of the ladies’ section in Riverdale scratch cup last month and has all the experience required to win the title which she last won back in 2012.  Margaret will be joined by the 1999 champion Marian Courtney (Ryston) and runner up in this championship last year in Fermoy, Glenda Hoey (Lucan), in what promised to be a very competitive three ball in its own right. 

Breda While (Tipperary Hills) has tasted success in this senior championship on two previous occasions with wins in 2016 and 1987. She will be very familiar with this Tipperary venue from county championships and competitions and may prove a very important factor as players seek to navigate this tricky course. The 2020 champion Liz Quinn (Collinstown) will play alongside Breda with Tracey Smith (Lucan) completing this three-ball. 

Martha O’Brien (Lakeside) won this title in dramatic fashion in St. Bridgets in 2019 and will be another lady whose knowledge of this course will be as good as anyone in the field.  She will be hoping she too can keep the cup from leaving Tipperary on Sunday.  Martha will play alongside the 1995 champion Sheelagh Elmes (Portmarnock) and a lady who seeks the Provincial and National Senior Strokeplay double, Sarah Byrne (Fermoy).  Sarah won the Munster senior title on her home course last month.   

Three ladies who seek their first National Senior Strokeplay title are paired together on Sunday, they are former National Girls Strokeplay champion in 2012 Amy Galvin (Tullamore), Tara Dillon (Ryston), 1996 National Intermediate Strokeplay Champion, and Siobhan Keely (Lucan). Runner-Up in the National Seniors Senior Strokeplay Championship in Glenville last month, Ger Holland (RGSC) will be hoping to continue that momentum this weekend. She will play alongside Suzanne Jordan (Portmarnock) and Margaret O’Reilly (Oldcastle).

The final two ball in the senior championship sees Gemma McCarthy (Hillview) play alongside Mary Murray (Rocklodge). Both are inter-county players for their respective Tipperary and Cork counties and experienced competitors on championship final weekends. Both can be expected to put in a strong challenge to claim the title this year.


Intermediate Ladies Championship @ Riverdale (Saturday 12th August)

A total of 30 ladies are entered in this year’s National Intermediate Strokeplay Championship.  With 2022 winner Sarah O’Neill competing in the senior grade this year a new champion will be crowned.  Bridget Shelley (Lakeside) will set out to win this particular title for the third time having won it in 2019 and 2012 and will have the course knowledge to put in another strong challenge on Saturday.  Bridget will be joined by Joyce Keane (Glenville) and Paula Nolan (Rocklodge) in their pursuit for a medal. 

2018 winner Mairead Manning (St. Stephens) is no stranger to what it is needed on these championship weekends and will relish the chance to claim a second title.  Joining Mairead will be former National Girls Strokeplay champion Barbara Furlong (Lucan) and one of the five home players competing this weekend, Margaret Courtney  (Riverdale).  Along with Margaret Courtney, the strong Riverdale challenge comes from Margaret Hennessey, 2021 National Junior Strokeplay champion, Margaret Forde, Liz Forde and Catherine Dunne

All five Riverdale players can be expected to put in a serious challenge for the title, could it be a clean sweep for the Nenagh club? There are a number of other very strong players from Tipperary who will have their own plans on bringing the Cup elsewhere in Tipperary.  These are Elaine Quinn (Lakeside), Frances Ryan (Lakeside), Gemma Martin (Hillview), Shula McCarthy (Hillview) and Lorraine Creed (Hillview) all of which will know the shots required around the challenging Nenagh course. 

2000 winner Bernie Dunne (McDonagh) is drawn with Marie Dooley (RGSC) and Catherine Dunne.  RGSC are further represented by Theresa King and Susan Richie this weekend while Barbara Murphy (Seapoint) and Audrey Donnelly (McBride) represent clubs from the LDM region.  Both Barbara (2023 Leinster Intermediate Matchplay champion) and Audrey (National Nett Matchplay Championship) have tasted success already this year and both will be keen to at least medal again on Saturday.   

2012 National Junior Strokeplay champion and Cork inter-county player Ailish Sexton (Fermoy) has shown strong form this year and should contend at the top end of the leaderboard.  Cork clubs are also represented by the consistent and experienced Nicola Ahern (Collins), Michelle Flynn (Fermoy) and Siobhan Foy (Rocklodge).  It would not be a surprise to see at least one of the medals end up Leeside on Saturday evening. 

Portmarnock’s Irene Reid and Glenville’s Joyce Keane tee it up with ambitions of bringing the cup back to the capital while Ann Bird (Laytown) and Geraldine Brannigan (Royal Meath) will be hoping to add to the success ladies pitch and putt in Meath has experienced over the last two month.


Junior Ladies Championship @ Lakeside (Saturday 12th August)

A very open Championship is on the cards in this year’s Junior grade as 26 players are entered to win this title for the first time.  While the other two Ladies’ grades will be played for in Riverdale, Lakeside in Templemore plays host to the Junior Championship. Leading the challenge will be four home players in the form of Josephine McCormack, Aideen Bourke, Fiona Bourke and Josephine Tobin (all Lakeside). 

Home advantage has played a big part in past championships and it will be interesting if it plays to the four ladies benefit this weekend.  Seasoned challengers and prize-winners at Provincial and National Championships, Veronica Anglim (Hillview) and Grainne Shelley (Hillview) can be expected to feature strongly this weekend in their home county course.  Two ladies and club-mates who tasted success in the recent Leinster Junior Strokeplay championship are Hillary Walsh and June Vereker (both Ashgrove). 

Hillary claimed the title while June picked up the bronze and with both ladies obviously playing well, they will be hoping they can get back into the winners circle on Saturday evening.  Also from the CKW region staking their claim for the title will be five ladies from Gowran.  They are Ina O’Donnell, Chrissie Keating, Stasia Healey, Maire Power and Ann Hanrahan.  It is very positive to see Kerry clubs being well represented again in National championships. On Saturday the Tralee trio of Bernadette O’Regan, Catriona O’Connor and Rosemarie O’Sullivan will take to the tee.  Catriona and Rosemarie were winner and runner up respectively in this year’s Munster Junior Matchplay Championship and both will be hoping to build on that experience and bring it through to the Strokeplay format. 

Five ladies from Kildare clubs are entered, Catherine Dillon (St Bridgets), Anne Sweeney (St. Bridget), Gabrielle Sweeney (St Bridgets), Marion Gannon Kelly (McDonagh) and Christina Foley (Athgarvan). Winner of the National Seniors Junior Strokeplay title in Glenville in July, Anne will be hoping to add this National title to her CV.  Catherine is a multiple Mixed Foursomes winner; Christina was a beaten finalist in this year’s National Nett Matchplay while Marian has returned some very impressive scoring at recent Scratch Cups. Thus all have the experience to put in a strong challenge this weekend. 

Bruff duo Margaret O’Donovan and Samantha Farrell make the relatively short trip to Lakeside in their challenge. Margaret has been a regular medallist over the last decade in the Ladies Junior Championships and one can expect another strong showing.  Carol Sheridan and Angela Egan (both Royal Meath) make the trip south hoping to return the cup to the Royal County.  Last but not least is a lady who has the record to suggest she could have a big say on Saturday and that is the lone Cork challenger in this grade, Ann O’Herlihy (Lakewood). 

Ann was runner-up the National Nett Matchplay championship in Douglas in 2022 and has proven she has the game for the big occasion, could she claim another National title this weekend?

Tomorrow Morning: We preview the Mens Intermediate Grade

Tomorrow Evening: John Manning gives us a statistical look at 54-hole National Senior Strokeplays