Dublin Matchplay Previews:

The Dublin County Board Matchplays take centre stage this weekend as 110 players take to three different courses on the Northsides of the city hoping to become the Champions in each of the 6 grades. The draw for each grade takes place in the morning at 9.45 am in all venues with the ladies in Erin’s Isle, the Intermediate & Junior Gents in Shandon and the Senior Gents in Ierne. The format is quite tough as with only 18 holes of play for each match up to the final it opens the draw up for many surprises.
The Junior Ladies have the biggest section in Erin’s Isle with 26 entrants, trying to decipher this puzzle is extremely tough as Erin’s Isle would not be a course many would have played much over the years home advantage and course form could play a big part for Elizabeth Hanna, Breda McLoughlin and Evelyn Woodward. The unusual style that Betty Cody has customised over the years has served her well and she is no stranger to the winner’s enclosure. Ringcommons Laura Doyle will be hoping to make up for the mishap with her scorecard in the Dublin Strokeplay as she spearheads a Ringcommons challenge of 6 entries. Glenville also have 6 entries with Lady Captain Catherine Fox a name that jumps out of the page as she goes in here as the defending champion with her clubmate Ann Clinton hoping to go one better than last year. The semi-finalists of last year also make a reappearance as Portmarnocks Mary Lynch and Old County’s Kathleen Condron also look to go one step further. A great championship awaits as the draw may put all of these ladies in together in the one section leaving a possible shock on the cards.
The Intermediate Ladies have a smaller field to get through as only 11 players take to the Isle’s. Old County have one representative as Pauline Balfe takes her chance and is not without a shout. RGSC have a duo of challengers with Louise Grace and Ger Holland in action. Ger would arguably come into this competition as the favourite with the experience gained on the Dublin Ladies Senior team standing to her in good stead.  Helen Greagsbey is another with Inter County experience and with CY Fairview clubmate Ger Edwards they will be a tough challenge for any of the other ladies in the draw. The Ringcommon’s crew have another 3 shots at title glory with Marie Shiels, Nuala O’Gorman and Patsy Quinlan a semi-finalist last year participating. Shandon’s Mary Fullam is always capable of challenging on her day and is one not to take lightly with her experience.  The final duo are Brenda Purcell and Kathleen Croke of the Lucan club. Both will be hoping to make their mark on the competition and whoever wins the title will have earned it the hard way such is the quality within the grade.
The final ladies group potentially revolves really around one lady, Ger Ward. She has been in phenomenal form all year with a National double to go with her bloodless victories throughout the Dublin calendar. One thing though that the other 7 competitors can take solace in, is the last time the finals were played in Erin’s Isle, Ger was turned over by the enigmatic Linda Thomson who went on to claim victory, maybe a repeat of history! Maree O’Toole is no stranger to winning this title and was the last to break the Ger Ward stronghold having won in her home club Shandon just 3 years ago and was a beaten finalist last year. Glenda Hoey has given Ger a few scares most notably in this competition last year and the RGSC lady has been one of the breakthrough performers in Dublin Ladies Pitch and Putt the past few years taking the step up to the Seniors in her stride. Her RGSC clubmate Siobhan Keeley hasn’t had the season she would have hoped for with it being curtailed through injury but if she is back to full fitness and over her recent niggles she is a force to be reckoned with. Sheelagh Elmes is another with a shout of the title as she is more than capable on her day and with a bag of experience under her belt and nobody will fancy taking her on in the early rounds. The final couple of players in this small but select field of 8 come from the Lucan club with Barbara Furlong on the edges of the Dublin Inter County team and Philo Condron who will be looking to add to her Leinster Title success of this year. Philo it could be argued has performed better than some of the ladies in this grade with her scoring impressive in her Championship outings this year but the move up in grade to the Seniors is usually a tough task. An intriguing Championship awaits.
The Gents Inter/Junior Grades at Shandon:
An opposite trend has emerged with the Gents as the Junior Grade has the lowest number of entries with just 11 players taking part. With Erin’s Isle hosting the semi’s and final, the 4 Erin’s Isle men will be looking to avoid each other in the potential early rounds, David Roy especially will fancy his chances of going far such is his experience around both courses, sure he put the holes where they are! Young players have a great record in this competition as they move out of the juvenile grade and Old County’s Conor O’Shea will look to buck that trend with a victory this weekend. A trio of Lucan men also take their chances with Jay Condron, Stephen Needham and Alan Doyle all fancying their chances this weekend. Alan was impressive when winning the Junior prize at the recent DCB Scratch Cup but he will need to replicate that form outside of his club to have a chance this weekend. Keith Potter is a near ever present around the Dublin circuit in qualifiers and Scratch Cups, he is another who will go in here believing he can win. Glenville are also represented by Joseph O’Connor with Portmarnocks Peter Brady the final challenger mentioned. An interesting mix of players and the draw once again will be crucial.
The Intermediates are also in Shandon with 20 Gents all looking to make the Sunday. Once again, the names to concentrate on here are the Erin’s Isle men. Wayne Fogarty won the Junior title last year and along with Thomas Barry if either make the Sunday they would be hard to beat on their home course. Fresh from their Dublin performances, another Erin’s Isle duo of Dave Beatty and Ryan Cooney will also be looking to get a run in the competition with Ryan unbeaten in this competition the past 2years winning the Junior and Inter events.  Trevor Heffernan and Dave Potter are the other Isle men looking to make the short trip to Finglas on Sunday. Charlie Egan has settled well in Old County but he would love nothing less than to take the tile at his old club and will be another to avoid in the draw, his new clubmates Thomas Balfe and Liam Comerford will also take their chance and will give their all in each match they play.
Portmarnock have three entrants with the popular David Crum looking to replicate some superb club form away from the links, Tom Judd will have fond memories of the Shandon club having performed brilliantly there in the Senior Persons League final while clubmate Martin Dowd will look to cause a shock or two throughout the weekend. Paddy Gaynor and Darren Egan will hope to see the RGSC club in lights on Sunday evening with Brian O’Neill of Fairview CY & Sean Quinn of Glenville the only entrants from either club hoping it’s a case of quality rather than quantity. Lucan and Loughlinstown for a few years dominated the Dublin leagues with the likes of Lougho men Richard Harkin & Trevor Ward taking on the Lucan men which included David Hayden II & Danny Kilduff. All four of these men will fancy their chances of going far this weekend as an exciting Intermediate Grade gets underway in the morning.
In Ierne the Senior Gets will be in action tomorrow morning with the anticipation of the live draw always a great atmosphere builder. The draw as with all grades is crucial and recent form goes out the window such is the sprint that is 18-hole match play. The Lucan entry is the biggest with 11 players from the west in action. Phillip Sweeney will look to produce some of the pitch and putt he found when winning the DCB Scratch Cup in Lucan a few weeks ago, another winner around Lucan this year in the Scratch Cup Series was Damian Creevey as he has slotted very well since moving up through the Inter Grade. Dublin Inter County player Chris Gallagher has not played as much of late but will look to another Dublin title with both Ierne and Erin’s Isle among the course’s he has won on. Anthony Malone is no stranger to this competition and he has returned to some kind of form finishing in 2nd at last week’s Loughlinstown Scratch Cup. Darren O’Reilly seems to save his best for this competition with a runner up spot last year and a victory over Hubert Kelly in the rain the last time the finals were held in Erin’s Isle. John Price, Terry McMorrow, Paddy Noonan and Derek Healy will also be looking to move through the rounds representing the Lucan club and the new arrivals to the Senior Grade, Dave Lee and Michael Ahern will be hoping to leave their mark on the competition, either way a Lucan victor would not be a surprise such is the experienced and classy nature of this bunch.
Old County have the next best supported entry with 9 players taking to the Drumcondra layout. Stephen Murray will be looking to make it a magnificent double following on from his Dublin Strokeplay victory earlier in the year, indeed such is the nature of sport, it would not be a surprise to see him follow up after such a long time without that elusive victory. George McGreal a member of the Dublin Inter County team with Stephen also produced a stunning victory in Old County this year when winning their Scratch Cup in dramatic style. Andy Lowe has had one of his best years so far, on the edges of the Dublin Team and qualifying for both Nationals but Andy is not one to rest on his laurels and will be looking to take that next step and claim a victory. Tom O’Reilly has failed to hit the heights of last season but is not a player anyone will be looking to play. Karl Murphy is a player that this competition is made for. A player of undoubted ability, he somewhat fails to produce it in strokeplay events but with this being an 18 hole knock out event, Karl will relish any chance of an upset and his streaky scoring nature will stand to him. Kevin Corcoran qualified for the National Matchplay this year so this format obviously suits him while the other Old County men Stephen Power, Anthony Carroll and Anthony Parsons will be looking to cause some upsets on their venture.
The defending Champion is Joe Joyce from Glenville and only for a majestic finish by Keith Redmond 2yrs ago he could well be looking for a treble of titles. Derek Courtney has slotted back into the Dublin scene as easily as he could have possibly imagined and he is no stranger to success around the county. Julian Kelly has been knocking on the door for a couple of years now in these championships but has failed to find that finishing touch. A Glenville trio that nobody would want to take on. Loughlinstown are represented by the National Matchplay Champion JR Crangle and his County team mate Gary Healy. Both are ferocious competitors in matchplay and will both be looking to add more matchplay titles to their name with Gary having won this before in the mid 00’s. Both also perform well in Ierne so not one’s anyone will want to face.
The home club of Ierne has three entries with the full of potential Jason Larkin hoping he can fulfil the promise he has shown over the years. Paudge Donoghue is a notoriously tough man to beat around the Ierne circuit and he will be looking got cause some major damage. Mark power has had an up and down season and is one of the many players stuck in the limbo between Senior & Inter Grades. The same could be said of Sean Cadogan of Portmarnock, he led his team to victory in Shandon in the Senior Persons League, he will be looking to follow that up and strike while the iron is hot. Thomas Ryan is another who has become notoriously tough to beat in matchplay and one of the players who always threatens to land a blow in Championship without following through. With this being played on two courses he enjoys he will be another potential title winner. The 4 players left are the only representatives from their clubs, Junior Smith will lead the line of them with his experience and articulate preparation a huge advantage around the tricky Ierne course. Dennis Monaghan is another matchplay specialist with his skills around the green some of the best in the game, he has the potential to destroy any man’s heart with a chip in and leave you trembling over a 3-footer! A lively outsider if he can be claimed to be even an outsider. Colm Byrne of Ringcommons has acquitted himself well this year in the Senior Grade within qualifiers but will need to up his game if he is to get in the mix on Sunday. One man from the finals day club has entered and Greg Heffernan is the one carrying the hopes of Erin’s Isle in the Senior Grade. Another player who should benefit from this format with his sporadic scoring and streaky nature a potential secret weapon in this event.
A great weekend of pitch and putt instore for all the grades and a showcase of Dublin Pitch and Putt in all 3 venues. The Dublin County Board wishes everyone the very best of luck in the Championships.