It is probably the most open championship for years as each of the other contenders have the credentials to carry off the big prize on Friday afternoon. Greg Bowden, Robert McCarthy and David Ryan lead another very strong Leinster team seeking their third victory in four years.
An indication of Ulster’s strength is that the side includes Brian McElhinney, a member of the successful Irish senior team at Ballybunion last week.
The Northern province also call on a host of other top performers like Stephen Crowe, teenage sensation Rory McIlroy, Ciaran McAleavey, Connor Doran and Gareth Shaw.
Munster have been without a win since Thurles in 1984 and they too are confident of bridging that 19-year gap.
Players of the calibre of Clancy Bowe, Tramore, Niall Turner, Muskerry/UCC, Aaron O’Callaghan, Douglas and Cian McNamara, Limerick have grown in stature and their experience should prove invaluable.
Non-playing captain Pat Murphy of West Waterford can also call on Keith Crowley, Lee Valley, David Daly, Muskerry and Seamus Power, West Waterford and these players have also been making their presence felt in Boys’ competitions at all levels this season.
Connacht cannot be dismissed either as they have won the Boys Interprovincial Championship for the past three years. Players like Mark Staunton, Michael McHugh, James Barton and Derek McNamara are a match for anybody.
Meanwhile, the European Tour Qualifying School got under way at venues in England, France and Germany today, with over 600 golfers looking to make it to the next stage at the end of October.
Up to 40 players from each of the five Stage One venues will make it through to the next rounds in France and Spain before the Finals at Emporda and Pals Golf Clubs on the Spanish mainland.
Zane Scotland started as well as could have been hoped with a brilliant seven under par 65 at Chart Hills to shoot the lowest score of the day at any of the five courses.
He leads Mathew Woods by one shot and the trio of Juan Carlos Aguero (Spain), Wade Ormsby (Australia) and John Templer (England) by two shots.
Over at Carden Park, Englishmen Phil Edwards and James Holmes - along with American John McGough shot five under rounds of 67, with Wales’ Yestyn Taylor one off the lead.
At Five Lakes, near Colchester, Argentine Ariel Carete posted an opening round, four under 68, with Ireland’s Chris Devlin one behind after a 69.
At Moilets in France, Italian Stafano Maio took the first round lead after a six under par 66 and leads his fellow countryman Stefano Reale by one shot.
In Germany, four Swedes and an Englishman occupy the top spots at the Golf-Und Land-Club Koln. Joakim Grönhagen, and Magnus Carlsson are tied at the top of the leaderboard on four under after rounds of 68, with Andreas Andersson, Mike O'Brien and Fredrik Soderstorm one shot off the pace.