Big week in Dooks who host Senior and Junior Ladies Championships
While you're reading this on Wednesday, the Munster Junior Ladies Championships are underway at the magnificent Dooks links but as in recent years the absence of the vast majority of the country's top players is again undermining the prestige of the Senior event, which is due to begin on Thursday.
The Junior championship for players between the handicaps of 10 and 18, began on Tuesday with an 18-hole stroke qualifier where the leading 32 players will go into the match play stages with one round on today Wednesday, two rounds on Thursday and the semi-finals and final down for decision on Friday.
This event has had six Kerry winners since its inception in 1980, the last being Mary Savage from Ardfert/Tralee who won it at Ballybunion in 2010 and there is certainly a huge local field this time around, all eager to become the seventh winner with a total of 41 Kerry players in the draw.
Killarney lead with the way with ten, followed by Tralee and Dooks with eight each. Ballybunion has six , Waterville and Kenmare have three each, while Ceann Sibeal, Killorglin and Castleisland have one player each. The afore-mentioned Mary Savage is among the Tralee entrants which also include young guns Sarah Fitzgerald and Aoife Crowley.
The Senior Championship, which was once one of the country's most sought-after titles and can boast former winners of the calibre of Danielle McVeigh, Valarie Hassett, Tricia Mangan, Eileen-Rose Power, Ada O'Sullivan and Evanne Higgins, seems to have lost its pulling power in recent times.
Perhaps it is down to the fact that it changed to a 54 –hole stroke event a few years back from its traditional match play format or is that merely a coincidence ?
The format was changed for the 2010 championship at Ballybunion which was won by Gillian O'Leary from Cork and that year all the country's top players competed, but since then it seems to have gone downhill and if you take a look at this year's field there are just two members of the Munster Ladies Senior Team in the field and none of the tournament's former winners.
The championship took place at Cork Golf Club last year in the week before the Interprovincial championships and most of the Munster team didn't play on a direction from team selectors to rest for the following week.
It's the same scenario this year as the Interprovincials take place next week in Sligo and if this is indeed the case once again, that players are "resting", then the ILGU would need to have a serious look at their fixtures.
There are a handful of Kerry players in the field with Killarney's Claire Keating, Anne Moynihan, Amy Arthur and Deirdre Prendergast leading the local charge along with Eileen "Ogie" O'Sullivan from the host club Dooks.
The chances of a local win in either championship? Pretty good, I would say in the Junior Event, with 41 locals out of a field of 107, while I wouldn't be surprised if one of the Killarney ladies manages to lift the Senior title maybe as an outside bet.