'Leinster the team to beat' at Interprovincial golf Championships

'Leinster the team to beat' at Interprovincial golf Championships

Leinster are chasing their fourth successive title today as the Interprovincial Championships tee off at Athenry Golf Club.

The three-in-a-row champions recall three members of last year’s winning side for their title defence. South of Ireland champion Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) returns to the fold along with Naas’ Jonathan Yates and Eugene Smith of Laytown & Bettystown.

Also on the dominant team will be Irish Close champion Robbie Cannon, whose win at The European Club gave the Balbriggan golfer his third major.

Leinster will also be bringing fresh blood to their outfit, with West of Ireland champion Robert Brazill (Naas), Charlie Denvir (Elm Park), Alan Fahy (Dun Laoghaire) and Castle’s Robert Moran getting their first taste of men’s interprovincial golf.

Munster will be without the skills of Robin Dawson (Tramore) and Kinsale’s John Murphy as Dawson competes at the Scottish Amateur Open while Murphy returns to college in the US.

Despite this, Michael Coote (Tralee), who is in his first year as captain, will bring an experienced side the Athenry.

Cork's Gary O'Flaherty is the longest serving player at interprovincial level, having made his debut with Munster in 1996, while Peter O'Keeffe (Douglas) first represented the side in 2002, and since returning to the amateur ranks O'Keeffe has climbed inside the world's top 100.

Munster have retained six members from last year's side. In addition to O'Flaherty and O'Keeffe, Eanna Griffin (Waterford), Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock), Andrew McCormack (Limerick) and James Sugrue (Mallow) return while Kinsale's Cathal Butler and John Hickey of Cork have been added.

Using this experience, Coote will be aiming to pick up points in the foursomes to gain momentum.

"I'm delighted with the team that we have," says Coote. "Leinster are the team to beat but at this championship, it's all on the day."

"It's vital to get ahead in the foursomes," Coote maintains. "A good start in the foursomes sets you up for a good run."

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