AS over 180 Boys and Girls across the country get ready for the first of the two major Juvenile weekends in the PPUI calendar, Communications and Press Officer Jason O’Connor takes a closer look at proceedings in both McBride and Tipperary Hills in the Provincial Singles and Inter-County Championships over this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
90 of the province’s Boys and Girls will be taking part over the course of Friday and Saturday (sponsored by Mr. Eamon Birchall and Brophy Brothers Builders) in McBride with a total of five different competitions taking place. Friday sees the Inter-County Championships take place with four counties entering teams namely the hosts, Meath, Offaly and defending champions Dublin who were victorious last year in Kilbeggan. Louth were the winners of the 2012 tournament and will be hoping to regain the title on home turf with the 2014 class also hoping to follow in the footsteps of Shane Redmond, Brendan Lawlor & co and claim big honours both on the provincial and national stage. Cement trio Jamie Leech, Chris Beehan and Ciaran O’Reilly, Bryn Evans from Collon, Seapoint’s Conor Brennan and Caoimhin O’Brien from the host club make up the Louth team this year.
Dublin are made up of three clubs, half of the team coming from Portmarnock in the form of Ciaran Gregan, Aaron Donnelly and Ciaran Lynch with Old County duo Ross O’Reilly and Jamie Power along with Lucan’s Aaron Monaghan the other players to make up the team. There is a fourth Portmarnock representative in James Temple being the team’s sub. There is an even split of three each for Tullamore and Erry in the Offaly team with Jack Dench, Amy Galvin and Daniel Fox the Tullamore representatives while Mark Newman, Josh Fleming and Ciaran Doyle represent Erry. Meath has the most representation from one club on their starting team with four players from Navan namely Ryan Crocock, Jason Gibney, Liam Carroll and Conor Doyle while Bellewstown’s Luke Heeney and Castletown’s Evan Carry are the other players on the Royal County team.
Saturday sees the four Singles grades decided over 36 holes (or maybe more). Sorcha Cronin carries local hopes in the Girls 10-13 grade but defending champion Aoife Mahon from Lucan will likely start as favourite in a field of eight competitors. There are only four competitors in the 14-15 grade but former National Girls Strokeplay Champion Amy Galvin from Tullamore will be defending her title against Lucan duo Molly McCarthy and Eimear Keane along with Bellewstown’s Alannah Teeling. Turning to the Boys there are 38 competitors in the 10-13 grade with Liam Stafford from the host club getting proceedings underway. In all McBride have another seven competitors in this grade namely Joey and Oisin O’Brien, Thomas McGlone, Dale Eyres, Sean Flanagan, Kian O’Brien and Ewan Caniffe. Last year’s third place finisher Ciaran Purtell from Longmeadows is amongst the field again as 2013 winner of this section, Aaron Donnelly moves up to the 14-15 grade.
Ryan McGrath and Aaron Flanagan are the other two McBride representatives in this age group (which contains a total of 40 players) alongside Louth Inter-County team member O’Brien and seeing as it is the one that contains the majority of the inter-county competitors the day before it could well be that the experience of playing the course competitively might well be crucial in a player from Friday potentially coming out on top. One thing is for certain though and that is we will be assured a new Top Three in this section with none of last year’s trio involved in this year’s staging.
In contrast to Leinster, the Juvenile Champions begin in Munster with the Singles Championships on Saturday. 85 Juveniles will be taking part across the four competitions on Saturday. Four Girls from two clubs will contest the two Girls grades as the 10-13 section will be decided amongst Lakeside club-mates Emer Ryan and Sive Shelley while the 14-15 section will be decided amongst two players from the Collins club in Cork namely Niamh Byrne and Emily Maher.
The Boys 10-13 grade contains 40 entrants with some links to some of the game’s most recent Champions. Deerpark duo Cillian Courtney and Jack McCarthy are the youngest brothers of former National Boys Strokeplay Champions Creagh Courtney and Conor McCarthy while a certain player from the St Annes club, Cian Murphy, continues his tentative steps in following in his father Ray’s almost unfillable footsteps! Hosts Tipperary Hills have a total of eight representatives namely Jack O’Halloran, Jack Ryan, Michael Buckley, Kian Farrell, Daniel English, Tony O’Neill and Adam Dunne. One encouraging thing about this year’s entries is the return of Limerick players with Parteen’s Shea Fennell (10-13 grade) and club-mates Conor Fahy and Seamus Redden (14-15 grade) to the competitive fray.
The 14-15 grade itself is likely to be dominated by the Cork and Kerry contingent however considering the quality of players on offer in the 41 strong grade. David Howard and Charlie Morrissey (both Raffen Creek) Cian Morrison and Conor Irwin (both Douglas) will be four of the main contenders from the Rebel County with Deerpark trio Michael Cronin, Stephen McCarthy and Sean Courtney likely to lead the Kerry challenge. Tipperary Hills have four players themselves in the field, Mark Compton, Fedor Kiliminov, Timmy Clarke and Conor O’Halloran but you would be hard pressed not to predict that winner will be from either Kerry or Cork in this grade on Saturday.
Similarly the Inter-County competition on Sunday is likely to be between the Rebels and the Kingdom on Sunday despite Tipperary’s continued participation in the event, which must be commended despite the strength of the other two counties in recent years. Kerry beat Cork in St Annes last year and while Cork ultimately got revenge in the National in Raffen Creek (then Pfizer) there’s likely to be very little between the two counties again. Ed Walsh’s absence is a setback for Cork but they have a pretty competent six in the aforementioned Howard, Irwin, Morrison, Morrissey, Anthony McSweeney from Lakewood and Ryan Towler from St Annes. Kerry have three of last year’s side in the form of Cronin, Courtney and McCarthy alongside their Deerpark club-mates Conor Quirke and Mark Harnett and Tralee’s Eamon Sheehy. In relation to Tipperary, hopefully they will be able to acquit themselves well on home turf and take confidence from the experience moving into future years.
We wish everyone involved an enjoyable couple of days in both McBride and Tipperary Hills. Hopefully some of the stars of the future will find some inspiration or indeed motivation to continue playing the game in the years ahead.
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