JUST OVER 100 PLAYERS will take part on Saturday in the National Intermediate and Junior Gents Strokeplay Championships in Hillview. Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor takes a closer look at the field in this preview.
39 will bid for this year’s Junior title with a two tee start seeing seven groups tee-off from the first and a further six go from the 10th hole. There is no one from the host club in this section with Tipperary representation coming in the form of Tipp Hills duo Kyle Kennedy and Michael O’Donoghue (Tipperary Junior Strokeplay winner) along with Larkspur Park duo George Goodman and Michael Kirby as well as Seamus Gleeson from Riverdale and Thomas Kennedy from Lakeside. From the recent Provincial Strokeplay Championships are both the first and second placed finishers in Munster namely Fermoy’s Keith Flynn (winner) and Mark Jordan of Raffeen Creek (runner-up). Jordan finished ahead of Flynn in second at the Cork Strokeplay but the winner of the Cork Junior Strokeplay itself in Karl O’Keeffe (Collins) is amongst the field on Saturday.
Some other County/Regional Strokeplay Champions from last month present in the field include Castletown’s Gerry Plunkett (Meath), Tullamore’s Shane Origan (Offaly) and Gowran’s Nicholas Brennan (Carlow/Kilkenny/Wexford). There are also prize-winners from the local Strokeplay events such as Listowel’s Killian O’Gorman (Kerry Runner-Up), Bruff’s Michael McGuane (Limerick Runner-Up) while Lough Owel’s Gareth Ward lost out after a playoff in the Westmeath event. Ryston’s Derek O’Toole was National Mixed Foursomes winner in Riverdale last year with Chrissie Byrne while the aforementioned Gleeson was also amongst the prizes in the Munster Mixed Foursomes in Lakewood back in May.
The Top 12 will qualify for the final 18 holes later in the day with the only guarantee this year being that the winner will not be from the host club like in the last two years.
An expanded field of 72 players for this year’s event sees some pretty interesting names amongst the field not least the last two winners of the National Junior Strokeplay in Paul O’Riordan of Cunnigar (2015) and Tullamore’s Ashley Lowry (2016). What’s also interesting is that 10 years after his win in this event in RGSC Fermoy’s Darren Quirke returns to the field while after his son’s win in the event in Tullamore last year Maurice Donohoe hopes to follow on from where his son Dayle left off. Darren of course missed out winning the Munster title in ESB last month, losing a nine hole playoff to finish second with the other two players who were involved in the playoff teeing off this weekend.
Conor Fahy from Parteen is the current holder of two Munster titles (Intermediate Strokeplay and Junior Matchplay) and will hope to have given himself a platform for a success at National level. Another Fermoy player in Peter O’Donovan finished third in ESB as the third place finisher from the Leinsters in St Bridgets; Francis O’Connor is also amongst the field on Saturday. O’Donovan is the Cork Strokeplay Champion at this level with the player who finished second to him, Douglas’ Eoin Keating also in action on Saturday. Other County/Regional Strokeplay Champions amongst the field include Bagenalstown’s Patrick Robinson Jnr (Carlow/Kilkenny/Wexford), Tralee’s Jason Cregan (Kerry) and John Minogue of Riverdale (Tipperary). Martin Baird (Bagenalstown) was Runner-Up in Carlow/Kilkenny/Wexford, former National O-55’s winner at this level Charlie Egan similar in Dublin, with Deerpark’s John O’Brien (Kerry), Parteen’s Anthony Flynn (Limerick) and Collinstown’s Stephen Harte (Westmeath) also picking up prizes at the County/Regional events.
Former National U-16 Strokeplay Champion Ryan Towler is another entrant this weekend as is National Mixed Foursomes Runner-Up from last year Dean Courtney of Riverdale. The host club is represented in this grade with Paul Sweeney and David Cahill carrying hopes of a local win. Other Tipperary players in the grade include Paul Shoer Snr (Lakeside), Johnny Martin (Tipperary Hills) and Sean Minogue (Riverdale). Much like the Juniors the Top 12 will qualify for the final 18 holes. With such a large field there are a lot of possibilities for various winners especially with the increased number of entrants in the grade from previous years.
Local knowledge will be important in events like this as will composure with the interest levels increased at national events from more local events.
Tomorrow: We preview the Senior Championship on Sunday.
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