Leinster Matchplay Qualifying – Senior Preview

The first major qualifying of the season takes place this Saturday and after a hiatus of a year it begins in the shape of the Leinster Matchplay. With the finals taking place in St.Bridgets a course known very well by a lot of our Dublin players through all grades we would be hopeful of coming home with some silverware but first we must get our qualifiers.
Seniors: Qualifying in Erins Isle
At the top of the draw we have an all Old County affair between the resurgent Andy Lowe and the battling Stephen Power. A very close game could be instore and the winner will play one of last years most improved player in the shape of Keith Redmond(Lucan). Keith knows whoever he plays he will be in for a tough game but goes there in form after claiming another prize in Ierne.
Next up we have Niall Lenihan (Shandon) against Liam O’Reilly (O/C). Niall since moving up from Cork has struggled somewhat to find his feet but he should not be underestimated. Liam will be looking to get through as the winner plays his brother Tom. Tom will start as favourite against whoever gets through but once again he will be in for a tough afternoon.
In the 3rd section we have defending champion JR Crangle(L/town) playing the evergreen Derek Healy(CPM). JR would be expected to get through and the weekends performance in Ierne will be encouraging but Derek will be hoping to cause a shock. The winner plays Mark Millar(E/I) who hope’s to play but studies may not allow him. A real pity as Mark would be one of the title favs especially after his fine start to the season in Ierne winning their Scratch Cup.
Darren O’Reilly(CPM) and Thomas Walsh(E/I) do battle in our next section and this once again could be a tight game. Darren has struggled somewhat for consistency and injuries have not helped but matchplay suits Darren as a former All Ireland and Dublin M/P Champion. If he does rediscover his form of old he will give Tom a lot to think about. Lying in wait is Ger Fitzpatrick(CPM) who will fancy his chance against either of them especially around a course he has done well in the past.
Up next is a fascinating encounter between the charismatic Gary Healy(L/Town) and the reliable Jim McLoughlin (E/I). This will be closely fought and after last year’s consistent displays Gary will really fancy taking out the home player. Jim should not be underestimated though as he is a worthy competitor. The winner faces off with Tom Mason(L/Town), Tom would dearly love to qualify and once again should not be underestimated as he is a former Leinster Strokeplay Champion.
An Erins Isle battle takes place in the next group as Charlie Egan and Paul Nolan go to war. Paul has struggled for consistency in the past season but he will need to be at his best to get past Charlie. An Inter last year Charlie finally took the Dublin title his play deserved and he will fancy causing an upset. Eoin Mithen(L/Town) will be awaiting the winner. Eoin is a formidable opponent on his day and will come out fighting whoever gets through.
Another Old County duo take on each other in the shape of Stephen Murray and George McGreal. Two of the best player in the country when on form. Injury curtailed Stephen’s season last year but he finished it off in style with a win in RGSC Scratch Cup. George on the other hand had some very promising performances ending with a Dublin Inter County spot. A serious game in prospect here. Paddy ‘Chipper’ Noonan will awaiting the victor and he will enjoy the challenge. Paddy has high hopes of making strides this year in Dublin. This could be the platform for his season to take off.
Aaron O’Droighneain(Glenville) and Jim Judge(E/I) are on the course next. Aaron made his way through the Inter grade last year with some fine performances along with qualifying for the National Matchplay. In Jim he faces a stern test and a player capable of top displays on his day. Anto Mahoney(Glenville) is the challenger for the victor. A quiet but efficient player Anto will relish the opportunity and may well be the one to beat in this section.
In our last section it is the battle of Lucan’s Dublin legends. David Hayden and Anthony ‘Skinner’ Malone have won all the major titles there are in the game between them. Hayden is the current Dublin Matchplay champion and if finding the greens around the tight Erins Isle course his superb putting ability could come into play. Skinner though has the game to ‘Tattoo’ any course around and will also fancy taking down his clubmate. Either way a fantastic match awaits. The winner will then play the winner of Tom Ryan(Portmarnock) and Christie Broe(O/C). Tom will really fancy taking out the legendary Broe. Tom has performed admirably around Farnham Crescent in recent times and if he gets through this match he will not shirk the challenge against one of the Lucan heavyweights.
If anyone would like to write a preview of the Inter or Junior Gents qualifiers, we would love to hear from you. Best of luck to all competitors this weekend and don’t forget that the PPUI dress code will be strictly enforced.