Sunday 18 March 2018

Cannon fired up for South after snub from selectors

Robbie Cannon
Robbie Cannon

Brian Keogh

Irish Amateur Open champion Robbie Cannon angrily headed to Lahinch last night gunning for more South of Ireland glory after being sensationally left out of the 11-man Ireland team for next month's Home Internationals at Ganton in England.

The Balbriggan player, who won the South in 2009, was bitterly disappointed not to get the nod from the selectors following his play-off win in Ireland's blue riband international event at Royal Dublin in May.

A bewildered Cannon said: "I can't understand how the winner of the biggest championship in the country, an international event, can't get on the Home International team. A lot of people I have talked to, people I respect, can't understand it either. I am gutted not to get picked, so I'm heading for Lahinch to try and win the South.

"It just adds more fuel to my fire to win more championships and prove a few people wrong."

Irish team captain Padraig Hogan had some sympathy for Cannon's plight, saying: "It was an absolutely agonising decision but we feel we have the best 11 players to do a job for us in Ganton. Robbie missed out and so did Harry Diamond, but unfortunately we can't accommodate 13 players. Robbie's unfortunate in that we had a huge amount of talent to choose from."

Cannon (34) is one of an increasingly rare breed of career amateurs at the top end of the game in Ireland, as evidenced by yet another devastated field for the start of the South of Ireland Championship due to the condensed international calendar.

Coming just days after the Inter-provincial Matches, the 'South' has suffered terribly in the modern era with the majority of Ireland's elite players resting before the European Individual Amateur Championship in Catalonia (Aug 7-10) and the Home Internationals the following weekend.

Headfort's Brian Casey is the only member of the 11-strong side named for the Home Internationals set to tee it up at Lahinch, while of the 13 Irishmen entered for the European Individual Amateurs, only Casey and Knock's Nicky Grant will be in Clare.

With the Home International team already picked, just 13 of the 32 players who teed it up in the Inter-provincial Matches at Lee Valley this week are taking part.

Defending champion Pat Murray is joined by former winners such as Cannon, John Greene (2010), Stephen Walsh (2011) and Simon Ward (2006), but it is telling that the players in the field with the most amateur 'majors' are Eddie Power (48), Arthur Pierse (62) and Barry Reddan (67), who won the South in 1987.

With the Inter-pros and the Home Internationals unlikely to change date for at least another two years, there is no obvious short-term cure bar moving the South, possibly to late June.

Pat Finn, general secretary of the GUI, admits fixture congestion is a headache that affects all the Home Unions. "There is no obvious solution," he said. "There is room in September for some golf but the question is what you put there."

Meanwhile, Clare hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald has pulled out of today's first-round clash with Kieran Cunnane due to the Banner's All-Ireland quarter-final clash against Galway tomorrow. A win would prevent him from facing Rosslare's Gary Collins in the second round; his place in the draw has been taken by Mullingar's Paul Burke.

Irish Independent

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