National Matchplay Ladies Gross and Nett cup preview

National Ladies Matchplay championship

A select field of 20 contests the 2024 National Ladies Matchplay championship.

That necessitates four preliminary round matches. Standout amongst those sees 2018 champion Mary Murray (Rocklodge) tackling the 2008 winner Tara Dillon (Ryston).

Both players reached the 2023 semi-finals and are rarely far away in the major events. Mary has been Munster Matchplay runner-up in each of the last three seasons while Tara boasts a trioof National Matchplay silver medals.

Anall-Fermoy preliminary round encounter beings together 2022 runner-up Sarah Byrne and 2012 National Junior Strokeplay champion Ailish Sexton. Sarah reached the Munster Matchplay semi-finals in 2023 and 2024 while Ailish was crowned provincial Intermediate Strokeplay champion last year.

Liz Quinn’s All Ireland Matchplay success came at Douglas in 2022 and the Collinstown lady begins her assault on the 2024 title with a match against Louise Grace (R.G.S.C.), bronze medallist in the 2020 Dublin Strokeplay championship.

Twoother R.G.S.C. ladies must travel all the way to Tipperary to face each other in the preliminary round. 2021 Dublin Intermediate Strokeplay winner Marie Dooley plays 2016 and 2018 National Matchplay semi-finalist Ger Holland.  

Paula Lynch repelled all boarders en route to her maiden title at St. Bridget’s twelve months ago and the Oldcastle player will begin her defence of the Elvery Cup in Saturday’s first round proper against yet another R.G.S.C. member,Susan Ritchie, the 2023 Leinster Intermediate Matchlay championship runner-up.

Margaret Reilly (Oldcastle) was Best Nett winner in the 2021 National Intermediate Strokeplay and second in last year’s Leinster Intermediate Strokeplay championship. Margaret awaits the winner of the Sarah Byrne/Alish Sexton match-up.

Sarah O’Neill (Collins) will be the first of two former Nett Cup winners to swing into action in the 2024 Scratch event and the 2023 Munster Matchplay champion must play her Collins clubmateNicola Ahern, the 2003 National Junior Strokeplay champion and reigning Cork Intermediate Matchplay champ.

Two-time All-Ireland Intermediate Strokeplay champion, Sarah reached the 2019 Munster Matchplay final at Larkspur Park while Nicola experienced national success in Co. Tipperary via the All Ireland Mixed Team Event at Lakeside.

Completing the top half of the draw is that most formidable of competitors, Tullamore titan Margaret Hogan. Matchplay champion on four occasions (the first all the way back in 1980), Margaret has also claimed the Strokeplay trophy five times. Margaret reached the last four at Larkspur Park in 2010, one of her 21 semi-final appearances. If the Offaly lady is to progress to an extraordinary 22nd semi, she will first have to deal with whoever advances from the Tara Dillon/Mary Murray clash.  

1988 National Girls Strokeplay champion, Ryston’sMargaret Keogh is a multiple provincial and National Inter-County winner with Kildare. The 1995 LeinsterStrokeplay champion is drawn against the victor of the all-R.G.S.C. skirmish between Ger Holland and Marie Dooley.

Two more former All Ireland Girls’ Strokeplay champions (with a brace of wins apiece) will dobattle in the next match. Marian Courtney (Ryston) won the first of her three National Matchplay crowns at Glenville in 1998 before adding two more in 2004 and 2005.  2012 and 2014 winner of the Under-16 title, Amy Galvin (Tullamore) delivered a remarkable performance at Kilbeggan last autumn to win the overall Westmeath Classic with 92.

Breda White recently racked-up her tenth Munster Matchplay title and the Tipperary Hills legend can point to major success at both of this weekend’s venues. 1990 Munster Strokeplay victor at Larkspur Park, Breda claimed the 2012 provincial Matchplay Cup at Tipperary Hills. Beaten in the Cashel final four years ago, Breda blocks the passage of Liz Quinn or Louise Grace.

Reigning National Intermediate Strokeplay champion Margaret Hennessy (Riverdale) is the other former Nett Cup winner in the field. Margaret’s first round assignment couldn’t be much more difficult as the 2021 All Ireland Junior Strokeplay winner faces Chrissie Sheedy (Ryston). Chrissie will be bidding to win the title at Larkspur Park for the second time having claimed the fourth of her current six titles at the Cashel complex in 2010. Chrissie is celebrating her eleventh LeinsterMatchplaywin a few weeks agoand will be confident of advancement.


Ladies Nett cup

In a change of format for the 2024 All Ireland Ladies Matchplay Nett Cup, the field of 18 has been drawn in six groups of three, in which play will be on a Round Robin basis.

Titleholder Audrey Donnelly will campaign from Group F, where the MacBride lady is joined by Grainne Shelley (Larkspur Park) and Ashgrove’s Hilary Walsh, the 2023 Leinster Junior Strokeplay champion.

2023 National Mixed Foursomes winner Audrey will renew rivalry with Grainne Shelley as the Co. Louth player defeated her Premier County opponent in the 2023 semi-final at St. Bridget’s.

2022 Munster Junior Matchplay winner Grainne will be hoping to make it to the latter stages in familiar surroundings where she triumphed in the 2022 National Mixed Foursomes alongside husband Derek Shelley.

Audrey will also be very familiar with Hilary Walsh as the pair clashed at St. Patrick’sin the 2023 Leinster Junior Matchplay final, which was won by Audrey.

Group C features 2023 runner-up Christina Foley (Athgarvan) whose path to a second successive final is blocked by reigning Kildare Intermediate Matchplay champion Laura Fogarty (Athgarvan) and 2020 Nett Cup finalist Lorraine Creed (Hillview).

2023 Munster Mixed Foursomes winner Lorraine Creed will be keen to get to Larkspur and goone better than four years ago.

Kildare Junior Matchplay holder Christina Foley will be looking to benefit from experience gained as a provincial Inter-County winner with Kildare while Laura Fogarty will hope to build on last year’s quarter-final appearance.

Lakeside’s Elaine Quinn was the first-ever winner of the Nett Cup, back in 2018 at Tullamore. Elaine featured in the semi-finals at Larkspur Park four years ago. To get to that stage again, the Templemore lady will need to defeat Group Aopponents Catherine Dillon (St. Bridget’s) and Catriona O’Connor (Tralee). Catherine won Best Nett at the 2022 National Ladies Junior Strokeplay championship in Fermoy while CatrionaO’Connor claimed 2023 Munster Junior Matchplay honours at Tralee.

Current National Junior Strokeplay champion Marion Gannon Kelly (McDonagh) headlines Group B, in which the 2023 Kildare Junior Strokeplay winner is joined by Tralee’s Lisa O’Connor and June Vereker(Ashgrove).

Carlow/Kilkenny/Wexford Ladies Matchplay champion June has made a very successful return to the sport, having taken a break after her 2002 National Junior Strokeplay victory at R.G.S.C. while 2018 Nett Cup semi-finalist Lisa is a Mixed Foursomes specialist, recording many success with her partner Tony Blake.

Angela Royer (Bishopstown) has reached the Munster Junior Matchplay final in twoof the last three stagings. Angela’s rivals in Group D are Hillview’sGemma Martin and Serena O‘Neill (Larkspur Park) who would love to make it to the latter stages onturf that she is very au fait with.

Tipperary Inter-County player Gemma was 2022 Munster Junior Strokeplay champion at Bruff.

Completing the line-up will be the Group E protagonists Gillian Morrissey (St. Anne’s), Veronica Anglim (Hillview) and Anne Sweeney (St. Bridget’s).

2022 Munster Junior Matchplay bronze medallist Veronica Anglim formed part of the all Tipperary last four line-up at Larkspur Park in 2020 and reached the semis again last year. 2023 Munster Junior Strokeplay runner-up Gillian Morrissey was amongst the prizes in the 2022 Nationnal Mixed Foursomes at Larkspur Park. Kildare Inter-County player Anne Sweeney is a two-time winner of the National Ladies Over-55 Junior grade Strokeplay championship.