Ireland desperate for form ahead of tough 'home' start
Ireland face a tough opening match against favourites England as they set out in a bid to regain the Raymond Trophy in the Men's Home International Championship, which gets under way this morning at Ashburnham in south Wales. Scotland face Wales in the other opening-day clash.
England are chasing the double after lifting the European Team Championship in Sweden in July but Ireland, following a disappointing Euro event, will be out to regain the form that saw them win the 2008 Home Internationals at Muirfield and the 2007 and '08 European titles.
An interesting inclusion in the Irish team is 19-year-old Kevin Phelan, originally from Waterford but now living in the USA. He has just completed his first year at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, where he is majoring in business management.
Phelan made the headlines when he qualified as an amateur for this year's US Open at Pebble Beach and has enjoyed three top-five and eight top-10 finishes in his first year at college.
Another debutant is Co Sligo's Barry Anderson, who won the Connacht Youths Championship earlier this year and was in the shake-up in the Irish Youths Championship.
Ireland will be led into action by their Amateur champion Dara Lernihan and Irish Amateur Open champion Alan Dunbar, with Kevin Flanagan again captaining the side.
Today's winners and losers will meet tomorrow, with the series concluding on Friday.
Maguire twins flying the flag in girls british open
The remarkable Maguire twins are Ireland's flag-bearers in the Girls British Open Amateur Championship at Royal Belfast after both moved into the knockout stages.
Leona posted a 73 yesterday to add to her 72 on Monday for a 36-hole aggregate of 145 -- five over par -- to qualify in joint third spot behind Julie Yang (141) and French champion Alexandra Bonetti (142).
Lisa improved by three strokes on her first-day performance but, for the second consecutive round, did not have a birdie and bogeyed four holes. However, her 155 total was just about good enough -- yesterday's 76 proving crucial. Anna Courtney was the best Irish non-qualifier with a 157 aggregate, missing out by two strokes.
Meanwhile in Scotland, Royal Portrush's Jamie Richardson led the early Irish charge in the qualifying phase of the British Boys Open Championship, carding a one-under-par 72 on Kilmarnock (Barassie) course.
Playing at nearby Dundonald Links, Ballymena's Dermot McElroy and Jeff Hopkins of Skerries led the Irish challenge with scores of 73. West Waterford's Gary Hurley is still in the hunt after a 75, while French teenager Julian Brun is leading on 66.
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