National Matchplay Qualifying – Northside Preview

Part one of our All-Ireland Matchplay preview consisted of the south side qualifying section in Cpm so it’s now time to preview the north side and the remaining 20 players taking to the Shandon course in the Phibsboro district of Dublin City. With 1 place up for grabs in each of the 5 man groups we once again have the Friday night prelims running into the Saturday morning.
The first gentlemen to take to the course on Friday night are both Erin’s Isle players with Jim Judge taking on Greg Heffernan. Jim has somewhat struggled for consistency since moving down from his former Louth base but on any given day he is a very tough opponent. Similar comments would apply to Greg too regarding consistency but Jim’s former experience being a member in Shandon could stand him in good stead and decide this match. Waiting for the winner will be Karl Murphy from Old County. Karl is one full of potential but yet to really break through in the senior ranks. Neither opponent will he fear though and he has gained a lot of experience in the past couple of years. The victor from that trio will play the winner of David Hayden of Lucan and Anto Mahoney of Glenville. David has twice won this in the past and would be fancied to take out the young quiet Tallaght man. Anto can be a tough nut to crack though and this will not be an easy game for Hayden.
In the second section the evening game is clubmate battle between the experienced Frank Connolly and last year’s break through player Aaron O’Droighneain. Both players will know each other very well being part of the Glenville senior team and once again the Friday night game looks like being a very close encounter. Patrick Gaynor of RGSC will be awaiting the winner of that match. This whole section is looking very close but last year Aaron qualified for Parteen and his experience down there could prove a very useful tool against two very experienced campaigners. When the name McGreal is mentioned in the Pitch and Putt community your first thought is Old County. Many championships have been won by the McGreal’s but if one is to win this then they are going to have to take out one of their own! George and Paul are the two that face off, George had a very consistent year last year and earned his place on the Dublin Inter County team through this consistency, Paul has somewhat struggled of late but has plenty of ability. It’s always hard playing a clubmate but i’m sure it’s even harder playing your brother.
Our third group starts off with a match up between a very experienced and traveled man in Thomas Walsh of Erins Isle and home player Martin Farrell. Thomas has been a member of the Shandon club as one of the Shandon Globetrotters and will be virtually at home around this venue. Martin will also relish the opportunity around the tight course and is sure to give his all in this game. A really intriguing match in prospect and any Shandon player should be feared. Pat Kelly from Loughlinstown makes the journey on Saturday morning knowing whoever he plays it will be a tricky game. Pat has the quality to cause his opponent trouble especially with his touch around the greens. Once again this trio look very close to call. The bottom match up is a really top game in the making. Thomas Ryan of the Portmarnock club faces off against seasoned pro Junior Smith of RGSC. Thomas will be in high confidence after a great start to his season qualifying for the Leinster matchplay coming through a very tough section. Junior is nothing but consistent and will have every blade of grass mapped out in his usual professional manner and will be looking to progress in what could potentially be one of the games of the night, a fascinating game this is.
Our last section in Shandon starts off with a bang on Friday night with the last 2 Dublin Strokeplay winners taking to the matchplay scene with Tom O’Reilly of Old County taking on Chris Gallagher of Lucan. Chris has some fond memories of the course winning his first Dublin Strokeplay here before doubling his tally last year in Erins Isle. Chris has had some very good runs in this competition over the past 2 seasons and will be looking to continuing that. Tom has somewhat struggled for consistency away from his home course in Kimmage and since his Dublin win has failed to continue his progress. This though is a great chance for Tom to re-emerge and if he gets his putter going on the slick greens he will cause Chris trouble. Stephen Power of Old County faces the winner and once again this will be no easy match to call. Stephen is a somewhat underrated player on the Dublin scene and was in with a chance of Dublin Inter County spot last year for a good chunk of the season. The quiet man will go about his business in his usual stealthy fashion. Skinner Malone from Lucan takes on Cpm’s John O’Keefe in our final match up and this should be a straight forward task to Skinner if he plays to anywhere near his full potential. John is a magnificent supporter of the game and will give his all but it would be a big shock if Malone didn’t make the final showdown. A great final awaits but who will make it there.
Best of luck to all the player’s involved this weekend. A great championship awaits in Lakeside for 9 players and as the last players to qualify in the country the results from other counties have had everyone itching to get there name in the draw during this week.