There was local success in the Munster PGA winter series as Mike Quinlivan won in the Cobra Singles in Dromoland Castle last week. The Rathbane based PGA Professional shot a three under par 69 to win the event by a single shot. Fernhill’s Wayne O’Callaghan was second with 70 and Monkstown’s Cian McNamara was third with a 71. David Foley and David Ryan were tied for fourth place with a one over par 73. There was another large turnout for the premier Co Clare resort and the course as usual was in great condition. The Professional Golf Brands Order of Merit is proving exciting as both Wayne O’Callaghan and Cian McNamara will have eaten into the lead held by Killarney’s Danny Sugrue. Munster PGA Captain Liam Burns will host his Captain’s Prize at his home course in Youghal on Monday next. After that the Munster PGA are off to Waterville and then it’s back to Cork for the Morgan O’Donovan Trophy which will be held in Monkstown.
The Munster Branch Cups & Shields booklet was launch this week and the provincial qualifiers for Ireland’s top club competitions will get underway with AIG again sponsoring the showpiece events. The business end of the golfing season gets underway in May when East Cork and Blarney will host the Jimmy Bruen Shield. Later that month the Pierce Purcell takes place in Fermoy and Kinsale. Skibbereen and Douglas are the venues for the Mixed Foursomes and Macroom and Cork host the Junior Cup in July.
National winners Muskerry are hosts for the Barton Shield in June. This is likely to be a close affair with at least eight clubs having realistic hopes of qualifying. There are eighteen clubs in action over two weekends with Blarney playing newcomers Fernhill and Bantry facing Mahon in the preliminary rounds. Holders Muskerry will be early favourites to advance from the top half of the draw although Cork and Douglas can’t be discounted. The most interesting match is in the other half of the draw where Lee Valley will play Fota Island. The latter is likely to feature one or more former Lee Valley players and this will no doubt add to the match. The winners face the victors from the first round match between Castlemartyr and Mallow, two teams that also did well last year. The Irish Senior Cup returns to Fota Island in late July. Like last year, there are no Munster finals in Cork this year with Dooks, East Clare and Dungarvan hosting finals in July and August.
A new eligibility rule was passed at the recent GUI annual general meeting. From 1st March, golfers can only enter an away open competition if they have submitted at least three qualifying scores in home qualifying competitions within the previous 12 months. It is a slight variation on the rule that was passed last year and it does mean that a golfer can submit three home scores this year to be eligible to play in away competitions in 2015.