By Charlie Mulqueen
He will only be released to play in the Eisenhower Trophy or the Olympic Games - that’s the understanding between John Murphy’s college in Louisville, Kentucky and Kinsale Golf Club where the availability of this year’s St Andrews Links champion is concerned.
And that is why the 20-year-old Murphy, who returned to the States yesterday to resume his studies and his golfing education, is unavailable for the Co Cork club for tomorrow’s Munster semi-final of the AIG Barton Shield at Thurles.
Murphy will however be returning to Ireland next month as part of the three-man Irish team to contest the Eisenhower Trophy for the World Amateur Team Championship at Carton House along with Tramore’s Robin Dawson and Conor Purcell of Portmarnock.
Tomorrow, though, Kinsale manager Ger Cullinane looks to a six-man Barton Shield squad of Cathal Butler, Eric Rumley, Keith Fitzpatrick, Gary Ward, Timmy Broderick and Mark Healy to cope with the semi-final opposition provided by Dungarvan before hopefully qualifiying to meet the winners of the other match involving Doneraile and Castletroy.
Kinsale have enjoyed a remarkable degree of success this year. In addition to Murphy’s heroics, they have also won the Munster section of the Jimmy Bruen Shield and go in search of a notable double this weekend with a remarkably youthful squad managed by Declan Flynn chasing the provincial Junior Cup title in Thurles.
Cullinane is also Junior Officer at Kinsale and is very proud that five of his group, including 14-year-old Eoghan Cassidy (Ireland’s leading contributor in last week’s Reed Trophy in London), along with fellow teenagers Jody Costelloe, Brian McCarthy, Robbie Walsh junior and Ben Costello, are members of the Junior Cup squad with Alan Duggan and Cathal Foley providing an essential degree of experience.
Kinsale’s Junior Cup semi-final opposition this morning comes from Clonmel with Shannon facing All-Ireland champions Ballybunion.
Castletroy are also seeking a double in Thurles as they meet Tralee in today’s semi-finals of the Senior Cup before going into battle against Doneraile in the Barton Shield tomorrow.
It will be a busy and demanding couple of days for manager Fergal Costelloe and his group of players led by Newcastle West man Andrew McCormack who has retained his place on the Munster team and also including Castletroy Scratch Cup winner Jason Tobin; the experienced Stephen Moloney, 2016 Irish Seniors champion Eamonn Haugh, Dean McMahon, Jack Ryan, Cian O’Donnell, Dara Walsh and Cian Daly.
Castletroy face Tralee and Dungarvan meet current Munster champions Monkstown in the Senior Cup semis this morning with the final taking place in the afternoon.
In the Barton Shield semi-finals at 8am, it’s Castletroy versus Doneraile and Kinsale up against Dungarvan with the final in the afternoon.
Thurles programme. Today: 8am: Junior Cup semi-finals, 1st tee, Shannon v Ballybunion; 10th tee, Clonmel v Kinsale. Final 40 minutes after end of second semi-final. 8.50am: Senior Cup semi-finals, 1st tee, Dungarvan v Monkstown; 10th tee, Tralee v Castletroy. Final 40 minutes after second semi-final. Tomorrow, Barton Shield semi-finals, 8am, 1st tee, Doneraile v Castletroy; 10th tee: Kinsale v Dungarvan. Final 40 minutes after end of second semi-final.