Paudie O’Sullivan Cork Captain
HAVING worn the Cork colours himself in the heat of the Inter-County battle, Claycastle’s Paudie O’Sullivan says it’s a huge honour to be Cork captain in 2014. He was one of the team members who felt the pain of the Cork Gents missing out on an unprecedented 10th consecutive Anchor Cup back in 2012 at St Patricks but feels a bit of character was shown by the county in the way it came back in Hillview last year. “To get back so quickly last year and win the Anchor Cup again was a great sign of the resilience of the team especially after all the disappointment that came with Enniscorthy,” the Cork captain said.
While Cork might have triumphed in the first year of the 72 hole tournament, O’Sullivan feels that future Anchor Cups are going to be hard won by whoever the winning county will be. “It might have been easier for Cork to win the Inter-County in the past when it was purely about 36 hole Singles. Now with Scotch Foursomes and Foursomes involved it is more about a team game and the pairings that you put out in both doubles formats are crucial,” he said. Tullamore will be a fairly neutral setting for proceedings in O’Sullivan’s view and he doesn’t see any team as being clear favourites for the title in advance. “From Leinster I expect both Louth and Dublin to do well while Westmeath probably are the dark horses considering their win in the Leinsters. They really are a team that fight hard for each other in the Inter-County and that’s something that any team who wants to win this have to do,” he feels. Of the Munster contingent he expects Tipperary and Limerick to feature while feels the relatively young look of the Kerry Gents could go either way for the county. “They might revel in the occasion or it might get to them it’s just hard to know when you’ve a team like that,” O’Sullivan said.
He sees the reintroduction of the B Championship in the Gents as being a welcome move. “Being honest, there were some counties that didn’t realistic have a chance of winning so I think this is a nice way for the counties involved to find their level and hopefully improve their own standards in the game going forward,” the Cork captain said. Playing in the Inter-County is a pressure like no other according to O’Sullivan. “Playing in National Singles Championships are tough but there is no greater pressure in my opinion than putting on your county’s colours because you are representing far more than yourself or your club for that matter. Having played with the Cork team in the past I know what it’s all about and being involved in deciding the order in which these players will go out is just as big a pressure believe me!”
Who could disagree with him with the talent, Cork always seem to have at their disposal.
Michael Hogan- Offaly Captain
HE first lined out for Offaly at an Inter-County back in 2001 but this year will probably be the biggest experience Michael Hogan and the Offaly Gents team in general have of the battle for the Anchor Cup. Home advantage will bring with it its own expectations but the Offaly captain feels that the team can rise to the occasion. “When you look at what Wexford did two years ago in their home patch, it does give you confidence about your own chances. It’s probably been one of the hardest years to get on the team because the scoring has been of a very high standard by all of the players involved,” he said.
He admits that there is a sense of underachievement within the Offaly ranks about their performances in the Inter-County over the last number of years. “You do see a lot of Offaly players do well on the Scratch Cup circuit but it hasn’t necessarily translated into success for us at Inter-County level. We came away from Collinstown (Leinsters) this year with mixed feelings. We were very happy to have been second after the Scotch Foursomes but we left a few putts out there in the Singles that might have gotten us into the medals,” Michael said. The Tullamore clubman also believes that the expansion of the Inter-County format has added greatly to its already existing prestige. “Up to two years ago individual players were just essentially playing 27 holes with one round of Foursomes followed by one round of Singles. Now with four separate rounds and 72 holes in total it does feel a like a fitting test of a county’s worth. The Foursomes certainly is a very demanding format and one that’s very hard to break 50 in. In Scotch Foursomes you would be hoping to take somewhere between 24 and 27 under for your combinations,” he said of the expanded format.
Being from the host club he should have a good idea about what it will take for the winning county to come out on top over the weekend and feels conditions are going to be crucial to deciding the outcome. “If the conditions are good I wouldn’t be surprised if the total for the winning county is somewhere between 110-120 under par. If they are bad and the wind becomes a factor I would say you could be looking at something around 80-85 under par,” Michael feels. In terms of the contenders for the title, Michael feels that Cork will be the ones to beat again. “With five National Champions on their team you have to feel Cork are going to be strong again. I think the Leinster counties are going to do very well here though because they are all used to playing Tullamore on a regular basis. Louth, Westmeath and Kildare would be three counties I would expect to do very well here,” he said.
Finally the Offaly captain extends a word of welcome to all the counties partaking in proceedings this weekend. “We wish everyone the best of luck and hope that they enjoy their time in Tullamore over the course of the weekend.”
Tomorrow: We preview the three Championships that will be taking place in Tullamore over the course of the weekend.
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