National Matchplay Build-Up Day Three

A look ahead to the Gents event this weekend

National Matchplay Build-Up Day Three image

THE Day Cup is down for decision once again on the June Bank Holiday Weekend at Tipperary Hills with 64 Gents bidding to become the 2017 winner. Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor takes a closer look at the field ahead of play tomorrow morning.


TIPPERARY by its nature is probably the most central location you can get to the Pitch & Putt Community and with a course that lends itself towards being spectator friendly, the Hills should come alive this weekend to some great Pitch & Putt. After his breakthrough win in Seapoint, Raffeen Creek’s Shane Murphy will get it all underway at 9.30am. He faces a player with a record of decent runs in the competition in Tralee’s Jason O’Regan who has made it through to Monday’s Semi-Finals on three occasions in the past.


            A potential rematch with one of his opponents from last year could be in the offing in Round Two on Sunday with former Irish Open winner Eamon Gibney taking on the first of the home contingent in Sean Cummins but Cummins will be counting on local knowledge in a match that should bring with it some of the early crowds. He is one of four players from the host club in action in the Gents, Anthony Culhane being the other in the morning session as he faces a player who had a good run in last year’s Leinster Senior Matchplay in Peter Reilly of Bellewstown. The other two Tipperary Hills are in the afternoon session and both find themselves in Premier County derbies as former Munster Strokeplay Champion James Ryan will play Hillview’s Michael Kennedy while a former Munster Matchplay Runner-Up in Pat Martin will face Larkspur Park’s Jimmy O’Neill.


            Of course its 10 years exactly since a Tipperary player last made the Final and Paul O’Brien returns after not featuring in Seapoint last year with Bruff’s Gerard Heelan his opponent in the seventh match to tee-off. This year is the first time since 2009 that the provincial Matchplays have not taken place prior to the National event making a form guide a bit more difficult to assess. 2010 winner Chris Scannell tees off in third match with St Patricks Dean Grannell his opponent. Seapoint was a memorable tournament for the Enniscorthy club last year as Dayle Donohoe and Martin O’Neill contested an all St Patricks Semi-Final which Donohoe won on the way to the decider. Martin’s very next game in the Finals will be with another club-mate of his as he faces Glenn Fortune in the afternoon session on Saturday. Dayle will begin his bid to go one better meanwhile in the last of the First Round encounters when he tees-off against another interesting young prospect in Ryan Towler of St Annes, a former National Boys Strokeplay Champion at this weekend’s very venue!


            After a short defence of his title last year, Irish No 1 John Walsh will hope for a better run in 2017 as he kicks-off the afternoon session with a match against John Delaney of St Bridgets. Irish Open holder Frank Dineen will follow not too further behind three matches later as he faces Darren Fagan of Seapoint in his bid for the only major national singles title to elude him. National Matchplay specialist Ray Murphy of St Annes tees off in the third last of the First Round encounters as Loughlinstown’s Gary Healy is his opponent. The only non-Cork player in the last 12 years to have won the event, Deerpark’s Damien Fleming faces Joe McGrath Jnr of Erry as two time winner and one of last year’s beaten semi-finalists in Mark Millar faces a potentially intriguing encounter with a former National Intermediate Strokeplay Champion in Stephen Shoer.


            2005 winner Darren Collins faces Collinstown’s Michael Buckley as 2015 Runner-Up Bryan Delaney takes on Hillview’s John Fitzgerald. The meeting of National Strokeplay Champion Liam O’Donovan and Ryston’s Darren Keogh is a repeat of last year’s Third Round encounter which Darren came out on top in and it is a decent match to end the morning session with. Liam’s father William will face Leinster Strokeplay Champion Keith Redmond a little bit earlier in the morning as another Dubliner in John Ross Crangle will want to go a little closer a major National Singles success when he begins his 2017 bid against Tullamore’s Paul Carey.


            Saturday’s initial 32 matches in the grade will be followed by 28 on Sunday that everyone knows are gruelling for the four players that come through them to Monday’s deciding day. Will it be a local winner or will Munster (or to be more precise Cork’s) domination of this event since in the last decade or so continue? Can someone from Leinster finally end the 14 year wait for a Day Cup success from the province and how will the players find the unique layout of this weekend’s course?


            It will provide plenty of great vantage points for spectators this weekend in what we hope will be a weekend of exciting and memorable action in both competitions.


For more on the Gents event check out an interview with defending champion Shane Murphy at the Draw itself three weeks ago:


Shane Murphy Interview prior to 2017 National Matchplay


We wish everyone involved in proceedings in Tipperary Hills the very best of luck this weekend. We hope you can join us in person to see the action or else follow us online where we will have updates throughout the day.