CORK'S most exciting handicap competition of the year gets underway tomorrow in Muskerry.
The Muskerry Junior Scratch Trophy will see the 64 qualifiers face off over three days, with the eventual winner getting though six rounds of matchplay golf.
Two qualifying events took place earlier this month with over 300 golfers participating, all hoping to make the top 64 to enter the matchplay phase.
The top qualifier was Conor Whyte from East Cork who went around the Bruen course in Muskerry in 72. O
wen O’Leary and Martin O’Brien from the home club were a shot behind, as was Anthony O’Connell (Fota Island) and Phelim Cotter (Doneraile). There were plenty more good rounds in Muskerry over the two days with all those shooting 80 or better qualifying.
Handicaps and qualifying scores are now irrelevant as it’s six rounds of scratch matchplay to get through for the eventual winner.
The event is again sponsored by Ryan’s SuperValu who came on board for the first time in 2021.
Liam Ryan has supported many Cork clubs over the past few years, and Ryans are also title sponsors of the Munster Strokeplay in Cork Golf Club.
The event moves back to its traditional Easter date after two years of being played later in the year. In 2020, it was the only open event to take place in Muskerry, taking place late in the year. In 2021 it was again held later in the summer as the Covid lockdown in the spring prevented the qualifiers taking place in time for Easter.
The Easter date has normally marked the start of the season for Cork golfers and this year is no different with scratch cups and open singles filling the calendars in many clubs from mid April onwards.
It also marks the opening of the national calendar with the West of Ireland taking place on Co Sligo Golf Club this weekend also. It looks like being a busy time for clubs also with the first rounds of the inter-club events taking place over the coming weeks.
The competition is unique in Ireland and has been running since 1970, and the winners trophy dates back to the originals tagging over 40 years ago. The 18/64 format has proved popular over a number of decades with golfers entering year after year.
There have been many famous winners and many dramatic finals. Eoghan O’Connell, Niall Turner and Morgan O’Donovan were among the winner to turn pro while Sean Duggan from Castlemartyr and Mitchelstown’s Sean Leonard were among the youngest winners.
In 2019 the final involved a father and son. David Howard managed the defeat his dad John in a tense family affair involving the two Fota Island Members. In over 40 years only three golfers have won it on more than one occasion.
Bantry’s Donal McCarthy won the trophy on three occasions in the 80’s and he was the only player to win back to back, in 1984 and 1985.
Although the trophy has plenty of Muskerry names, Ger O’Shea and holder John McSweeney are the only members of the home club to have his name there twice.
Mitchelstown’s Clem Leonard also won twice in 2010 and 2012, and in 2016 his nephew Sean Leonard continued the Leonard family’s success in Muskerry. The host club have tasted lots of success in the competition, winning twenty times over the 42 years.
Current holder John McSweeney is not in the field this year but there are two previous winners who will be hoping to take the trophy home again. Jerry Manley won in 2009 and Liam Harte Jnr won it in 2018.
The first round gets underway tomorrow at 7.30am with the last of the 32 matches teeing off at 11.44. Round two will follow as soon as the early first round matches come in, and the winners on Friday afternoon will repeat the process on Saturday and Sunday in the hope that they will win the prestigious title.
The six rounds will take place over the par 69 Bruen layout in Muskerry.
With the course in great condition, tournament director Brian Lane is looking forward to a great weekend of golf. Muskerry will have scoring available at the end of each round.
Conor Whyte v Richard Cahill, Alan Duggan v Barry Hurley, Barry Gannon v Thoms Galvin, Richard Leonard v Thomas Hughes, Padraic Kilmartin v Colin Sheehan, Peter O’Mahony v Eoghan Hallihan, Cian Smith v Sean McSweeney, Fergal Murphy v John O’Mahony, Alan Buckley v James Ormonde, Phelim Cotter v John Wiggington Barrett, Jerry Manley v Aidan Long, Damien Ryan v Diarmuid Scanlan, Joseph Portley v Sean Coughlan, Stuart Meredith v Barry Keane, Anthony O’Connell v Brian Kirby.
Jack Singleton v James Maddigan, Peter Scannell v Chrsitopher Cocking; Owen O’Leary v Olan Buckley, Kevin O’Donovan v Tony Hegarty, David O’Sullivan v Colin Hussey, Michael Hurley v Eoghan O’Shea, Conor Riordan v Niall O’Sullivan, Donal O’Regan v Ciaran Buckley-Barry, Padraig Linehan v Graham Costelloe, Stephen Burkley v Bobby Maddigan, Henry Ross v Peter Driscoll, Shane Buckley v Ken Manley, Eric Cunningham v John O’Sullivan, Paul O’Mahony v Patrick J Harrington, Stephen Murphy v Eugene O’Callaghan, Martin O’Brien v Liam Harte Jnr.