National Matchplay Qualifying – Southside Preview

The season is starting to get going now as the evenings stay brighter a little longer and the competitions start coming around very quickly! After a successful day of running the Leinster Matchplay the Friday and Saturday combination is used now for the big one, The All Ireland National Matchplay. Often considered the best competition of the season with plenty of shocks and top P&P action taking place all over the country to get the last 63 spots in the finals. John Walsh of Collins(Cork) is the only man safely in the draw and in Dublin we have 45 players looking for one of our allotted 9 spots. Lakeside in Tipperary is the venue for the finals and a truly magnificent course awaits all players involved. With no ladies qualifying its only the gents of Dublin going head to head over both CPM and Shandon courses.
Our first review comes from the Southside of the city and the CPM course in Clondalkin.
In our first section on Friday night it will be the local man Derek Healy taking on Paddy Noonan of Erin’s Isle. Both men will no doubt be disappointed with their performances in the Leinster qualifiers and will be looking to make the Saturday morning. Derek’s local knowledge could well be critical in this game and Paddy will have to produce a big performance to make it through. Awaiting the winner will be Loughlinstowns Hubert Kelly. Hubert is potentially one of the best players in the country on his day and was so close to the holy grail in Fermoy when 3rd in the National Strokeplay. With a tonne of experience and two runner up finishes in recent years in Dublin Championships he will be a tough opponent for either of the two men. The lucky man to get through these games will then face a daunting challenge against 2003 National Matchplay Champion Darren O’Reilly on his home course of CPM or last year’s Dublin top debut man Keith Redmond of Lucan. Both men qualified through to the Leinster Matchplay so are obviously in form and confidence will not be short in either. On recent evidence Keith would probably be favorite on any other course but CPM and Darren O’Reilly go hand in hand. Either way a titanic battle will take place and an elusive place at Lakeside will be well earned in this group of 5.
With 5 Old County men in action on the southside there was bound to be one or two match ups but no-one would expect 4 of them all in the one 5 man section but it has a good mixture of experience and one youthful presence very capable of suprising. Once again 2 will go tee to tee on Friday night and the lucky two are both from you guessed Old County. Paul Griffin and Anthony Parsons are the men and a tight affair is once again the order of the day. Griffin it would be fair to say has a little more experience on his side and will probably go off the slight fav. In the way of the winner though a truly tougher test awaits in the shape of another Old County man and one of their shining lights in Stepehen Murray. Murray would be fancied to do well especially around a course he knows so well as he usually joins as an associate member. On the other side of the draw comes the youthful presence aforementioned in the shape of Eric Byrne also of the OC. Eric has been in phenomenal form in the inter grade in recent times and he will enjoy the challenge of Lucan man Gavin Carty. Gavin is a phenomenal talent and injuries of late have curtailed his P&P career. If he is fit and raring to go he will be tough to get past but Eric will not go down without a fight. A very interesting section and the Old County men will be hoping for one of there guy’s to come through.
Group 3 consists of a lot of experienced performers. Shay Brady of Portmarnock faces off against Erin’s Isles Charlie Egan on Friday night. Once again the Friday game looks like being a very close encounter. Both fantastic players on there own local courses but both would be disappointed to an extent of their performances away from home. On Saturday morning the victor comes up against Shandon’s Dennis Monaghan. Dennis is a very adaptable performer and the tougher the conditions it would seem to favor the Shandon man. A fantastic touch around the greens could well be the deciding factor and Dennis is right up there with the best in the game in that area. Down the bottom of the group comes the Erin’s Isle favorite Paul Nolan. Paul will face a former All Ireland Champion in Davy Poole or Portmarnock. Paul will be brimming with confidence after a couple of dominant displays in Leinster qualifying. Davy will need to produce a performance from his illustrious past to take Paul out but he is more than capable of doing so.
The 4th section sees the Friday game challengers Andy Lowe of Old County playing Erin’s Isles Jim McLoughlin. The pre lims have really thrown out some very tough fixtures to call and this will be another that can go wither way. Andy has hit a little form recently around his home course and with Jim struggling to come to terms with an unfortunate injury to his hand it will be a great opportunity for Andy to progress. Gary Healy of Loughlinstown will be waiting on Saturday morning for the victor and he has a very good record around the CPM course including a Dublin Matchplay win and would be fearful of no-one around there especially after qualifying in Erin’s Isle last week. Niall Lenihan of Shandon will be buoyed by his win through to the Leinster finals last week and will relish the chance to take on JR Crangle of Loughlinstown. Jr’s record of qualifying recently has been very good and as a multiple winner of the CPM Scratch Cup he would be favored to get through. Niall though will be heartened though that Jr was knocked out at this stage a couple of years ago when fancied to beat Shaun McDonnell.
The final section on the southside qualifying consists of a group of young lads all going out to try and end the magnificent run of consecutive All Ireland Matchplay finals for Mark Millar. Glen Woodward from Erin’s Isle takes on CPM’s Garrett Walsh in another tight looking Friday Prelim. Garrett’s home advantage could well decide this game though. Mark MIllar will be waiting in the wings on Saturday morning and will be raring to go after missing the chance to play in the Leinster’s. Twice a winner at the turn of the millennium Mark has come back to the game like a duck to water and is one of the best additions to Dublin P&P history. Our final game is will be a ferocious affair between Erin’s Isle player Jason Larkin and CPM’s Gerard Fitzpatrick. Ger has home advantage and once again it could be a huge decisive factor in the game but there is no doubt that Jay will be pumped up for this.