There are three new picks on the 2016 Munster team, as Captain Phil Cooney plots to win this third interprovincial title in five years as captain.
Newly capped Cathal Butler jointly topped the order of merit, and the Kinsale man is one of three members of the team joining the team. His order of merit placing was predominantly down to his performance in winning the Munster Strokeplay in May, but also his performances in the East of Ireland and the Irish Amateur Open added valuable points. Butler has spent the winter working with the Harrington Scholars golf programme in Maynooth University where he is also a full time student.
As well as access to top level training and fitness programmes, Cathal also played in the competitive Hilary Golf Society outings in Dublin through the winter. He’s also a member of the Irish Mens development squad and Butler is just back after competing for Ireland in the World University Championships in Brive. Butler also beat a top class field in Fota Island in March to win the Senior Scratch Cup which bodes well as the inter-pro’s are being held on the same Deerpark course.
Andrew McCormack from Castletroy was also an automatic pick, his guaranteed place from the order of merit was down to great performances in the four scratch cups in April, including a win in Douglas. McCormack was third in Muskerry and finished in th runner-up spot in Lee Valley a week later. His win came in the third of four weeks of major competitions. He shot rounds of 69 and 68 to win the event by five strokes. He followed up a week later with another good performance to finish in a tie for 6th place at the Munster Strokeplay.
The other change to last year is Douglas’ Peter O’Keeffe who makes his first appearance since 2007, having first played for Munster in 2002. O’Keeffe regained his amateur status last September after almost a decade as a professional. His initial form was very strong, but work commitments limited his time for golf in the early spring. O’Keeffe is part of the very successful Dennehy’s Health & Fitness business and they recently opened a new facility in Blackpool with a dedicated golf fitness and analysis area. Since the new gym opened O’Keeffe has had more time and he has worked hard on his game.
He finished in fourth place in Tralee a few weeks ago and he had three strong performances in the Senior Cup at Lee Valley last weekend. The big hitter was a member of several Munster teams from 2002 to 2007, and he was part of the winning Munster team in 2007 so his experience will add to team collective.
Although Ian O’Rourke finished in fifth place on the order of merit, the Dublin based Cobh native is not available to play in the series. Like Butler, O’Rourke had made the cut in the Irish Amateur Open and he reached the last 16 in the West of Ireland. He had a good performance in the Munster Strokeplay at his former club and he had a top eight finish at the East of Ireland in Baltray. As there were three changes to the Munster team the other players to lose out were Dave O’Donovan and Eanna Griffin. Both players had excellent starts to the 2015 season and were rewarded with selection for the 2015 event in Rosapenna. This year however form probably went against both players in a very competitive race for the eight places on the team.