While several of the 75 competitors will fancy their prospects of equalling the superb 66 shot by Ulster girl Olivia Mehaffey on the way to winning the recent Ford Cork Ladies Scratch, they will be hard pressed over the testing Little Island layout, which is in superb condition.
Kinsale’s McCarthy, now entered from Castlemartyr, captured the title in dramatic circumstances ahead of home club member Ian O’Flynn 12 months ago. To hold on to the coveted trophy this time round, he will have to beat current Irish international Richard O’Donovan of Lucan; three-time winner Niall Gorey (Muskerry) and Pat Murray (Limerick), a former Irish Close and South of Ireland champion.
There will also be challenges from David Brady, who shot a course record 64 over his local at Rosses Point during the qualifying rounds for the West of Ireland Championship, along with a strong group from Portmarnock, including Stephen Walsh and John Greene and James Fox.
There is also a talented number of Cork members hopeful of keeping the title at home, including John Hickey, recent winner of the Muskerry Scratch Cup, and Gary O’Flaherty.
Over the past few years, the Munster Stroke Play Championship has replaced the Cork Scratch Cup, the oldest tournament of its kind in Ireland, having been founded in 1923 and which became the centrepiece of the early stage of the amateur season in the south of the country. It had a match play format until 1981and was largely dominated by Cork golfers and none more illustrious than the legendary Jimmy Bruen, who completed a four-in-a-row from 1938 while still in his teens.
Denis O’Sullivan, nowadays a successful member of the European Senior Tour, was last of the match play champions and also claimed two of the first three South of Ireland stroke play events. However, Cork golfers didn’t have it all to themselves, with English visitor Bruce Streather coming out on top in 1974 and joined on the winners list by Niall Goulding (Portmarnock), Gary Murphy (Kilkenny), Arthur Pierse (Tipperary), Pat Murray, and perhaps most impressively of all, Headfort’s Brian Casey who shot rounds of 64 and 66 on the second day in 2012 to run away with the spoils.