O’Flaherty and Hickey set for Cork Challenge

Cork's Gary O'Flaherty in action in Lee Valley, he's on of several local golfers in action in the Munster Strokeplay Championship this weekend. Picture: Niall O'Shea

Cork’s Gary O’Flaherty in action in Lee Valley, he’s on of several local golfers in action in the Munster Strokeplay Championship this weekend.
Picture: Niall O’Shea

The top golfers from Cork, Munster and Ireland will gather in Cork Golf Club on Saturday morning for the 72 hole Munster Strokeplay Championship.  Now in its tenth year, the Munster Strokeplay took the place of the Cork Scratch Cup which was the oldest competition of its type in the country.  In the past decade the competition has attracted a top class field and this year two thirds of the field are playing off a plus handicap.  The cut for the top 75 entrants fell at 0.8, the lowest cut point in the history of the event.  This is the third weekend in a row for top class amateur action in the area.  Muskerry and Lee Valley held their senior scratch cups over the past two weekends and this weekend it’s Cork’s turn to take centre stage.  With Munster Order of Merit points on offer, anyone with ideas of playing in the inter-pro’s will be hoping to do well over the weekend.

Cork’s Gary O’Flaherty will lead the charge from the home club.  He was runner up last year and he was runner up in both Muskerry and Lee Valley over the past two weeks.  O’Flaherty is certainly one of the form players and last year he had several close calls before he won the Ballybunion Senior Scratch Cup in late May.  Cork’s challenge will also come from John Hickey who has been on form in Muskerry and Lee Valley.  Ian O’Flynn, Eoghan Murphy, Mark Ford and Fergal Deasy are also representing the home club.  The winners of both recent scratch cups are also in the field, Youghal’s Conor Coyne and Muskerry’s Dave O’Donovan will be hoping to match their recent success.  Three time winner Niall Gorey has confirmed his participation.  Illness prevented the Muskerry member from playing in Lee Valley last week and although he usually plays well in Cork, its unknown if he’ll be fit enough for the challenge of 72 holes.  Holder of the title Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin) leads a Leinster challenge that includes Jeff Hopkins, Alex Gleeson and Conor O’Rourke.  Other golfers to watch include past winners Pat Murray and Kieran McCarthy, and young guns Eanna Griffin, Paul McCarthy and James Sugrue.  The first round gets underway in Cork Golf Club at 7.30am with Mark Ford, Ed Hannon and Kenny McGarry the first off.  The top 39 plus ties will compete in the final two rounds on Sunday.  After this weekend, category one golfers will have a break until the Douglas Senior Scratch Cup.  The 36 hole competition takes place on Saturday 23rd May and is sponsored by Kieran Canty Financial Services.  Details and bookings can be made through Stephen Hayes in the Pro Shop in Douglas.

After a very successful Senior Scratch Cup, Lee Valley got more good news on Monday evening when the R&A confirmed that the 2016 event would be included in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.  This means that the event should have an increased attractiveness for Ireland’s top amateurs, and the possibility of some international golfers taking part.  With event sponsors Mardyke Arena committed for next year and the date in April confirmed, the event is sure to be a success.

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