The Lahinch club, which has been hosting the famous event since 1895 and celebrating its 125th anniversary, is delighted with the high quality of the entry. As for some of the star names themselves, they will see the “South” as an ideal opportunity to atone for a disappointing performance in the recent European Championship.
Stuart Grehan Tullamore), the Lahinch champion in 2015; Conor O’Rourke (Naas), John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead), Robin Dawson (Tramore) and Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) were all in the side that qualified for the top flight in Norway only to fall by the wayside in the match-play rounds.
They are joined at Lahinch by Tiarnan McLarnan (Massereene), Alex Gleeson (Castle), Rowan Lester (Hermitagr), winner of the North of Ireland Championship at Portrush last week and defending champion Conor Purcell (Portmarnock). They were all in the history making team at Nairn, Scotland, last September, the only absentees being Paul McBride of the Island and Co Sligo’s Sean Flanagan.
Others capable of departing on Sunday week with the coveted trophy include Peter O’Keeffe (Douglas), winner of the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Co Down on his return from the professional ranks and Barry Anderson (Royal Dublin) who captured the West of Ireland at his native Co Sligo along with the South of Ireland Stroke Play at Cork and, of course, Lester and Purcell will be there.
Many will be interested in the performance of the highly promising Kilkenny youngster, Mark Power, who recently retained the Irish Boys title not to mention his father Eddie, a three times Irish Close champion.
Another teenager, Tyrone Clarke, the a son of former South and Open champion, and Ryder Cup captain, Darren, makes the journey from Portrush.