John Murphy and James Sugrue are set to make the Munster senior debuts next month in Carlow, they are two of three new caps to be named on the Munster Senior Interprovincial team. Both Murphy and Sugrue have represented Munster at Boys level and are set to join the senior ranks in a new look team. Captain Phil Cooney has named Murphy, Sugrue and Dublin based Jack Pierse in a team that see’s four changes from last year. Waterford’s Eanna Griffin has also been named in the side that see’s four changes from last year.
It’s the biggest shake up in several years, although all eight golfers were the form players over the past few months, they took the top eight spots on the qualifying order of merit. Cooney along with selectors John Carroll and Michael Coote had four picks to make after Peter O’Keeffe, Robin Dawson, John Murphy and Geoff Lenehan took the four automatic places from the Munster Senior Order of Merit. Fifth placed Jack Pierse was unlucky to finish outside the automatic qualifiers, he finished equal on points to Lenehan but as it happened the selectors went with the four best placed golfers outside of the automatic qualifying spots. Pierse who is joined Lahinch as well as Portmarnock expressed an interest in representing Munster and was on Cooney’s radar after he took the runner up spot at the East Of Ireland. The selectors also had a chance to see him in action when he travelled to Lee Valley although injury ruled him out of the Munster Strokeplay in May. The players to lose out on selection were Gary O’Flaherty, Pat Murray, John Hickey and Cathal Butler.
It appears that he selectors had a strong weighting on current form, with O’Keeffe, Murphy, Griffin and Sugrue all winning important events recently. Walker Cup panelist is back on form after a quiet few weeks following some strong performances abroad. Pierse along with Lenehan and Castletroy’s Andrew McCormack have all been scoring well and featuring in key order of merit events.
Of the players who were left out, Gary O’Flaherty was probably the closest. He won in Lee Valley back in April and had a good showing in the East, Cork and Muskerry. O’Flaherty was named as the non travelling reserve. Hickey too was unlucky, an early season injury limited him and although he won in Muskerry it wasn’t enough to gain selection. Cathal Butler has had some mixed form so far in 2017, although he did fire a course record 64 (-7) in Newlands last week to signal a return to the form that saw him take the Munster Golfer of the Year award for 2016.
O’Keeffe, Dawson, Lenehan and Pierse are all playing the British Amateur in Royal St Georgr’s this week and most team members will travel to Carlow the following week to check out the Tom Simpson designed Deerpark championship layout. The Munster team will face Leinster on the opening day of the competition which takes place from the 3rd – 5th July.