Friday 22 November 2019

Dunbar and Phelan on Portmarnock Trophy trail

DERMOT GILLEECE

Facing the rare challenge of regaining the St Andrews Trophy next weekend, the home side can look for inspiration to the deeds of an earlier generation at Portmarnock.

And in a unique development, the North Dublin links will become the first Irish club to stage concurrently the Jacques Leglise Trophy, the equivalent match for under 18 boys.

Alan Dunbar, winner of the British Amateur title at Royal Troon two months ago, will lead the nine-member GB&I team which also includes American-based Kevin Phelan, who gained the distinction of qualifying for the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach.

Ireland has two representatives on the under 18 GB&I team. Gavin Moynihan from The Island is honoured with the captaincy of a boys' squad which includes Alex Gleeson (Castle) and British Boys' champion, Matthew Fitzpatrick of England.

When the St Andrews Trophy had its only other staging at Portmarnock in 1968, the Continent of Europe had yet to acquire the temerity to actually win the match. That didn't happen until the tenth staging at Punta Alta in Italy in 1974.

Still, their growing strength was in evidence in 1968 when a promising 19-year-old Belgian by the name of Philippe Toussaint battled to a halved match against Joe Carr. And he proceeded to beat Scottish Walker Cup representative Hugh Stuart, by 3 and 2, on the second afternoon. Toussaint went on to have a successful career as a tournament professional, winning the Benson and Hedges in 1974 before returning to Portmarnock in the Irish Opens of 1976, 1977 and 1978.

The home side, which won the matches 20-10, had Tom Craddock, Michael Bonallack, Peter Oosterhuis and Ronnie Shade as leading members. As it happened, Craddock went through his four matches unbeaten; his two wins and two halves including a singles victory on the second day. Carr had one and a half points from three.

For only the fourth time in a biennial series inaugurated at Wentworth in 1956, the Continentals won the last (28th) staging, by 14-10. But the Continental boys made a stirring start to their annual series, winning the first two stagings of the Jacques Leglise in 1977 and 1978, before GB&I proceeded to dominate. Europe completed the double, however, at Castleconturbia, Milan two years ago.

Both matches involving morning foursomes -- Leglise 7.30am; St Andrews 8.20am -- and afternoon singles -- Leglise 12.30pm; St Andrews 1.50pm -- will be held next Friday and Saturday. And given that Rory McIlroy, Pádraig Harrington, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Francesco and Edoardo Molinari and Martin Kaymer are among the relatively recent graduates from these events, some sparkling play may be anticipated.

GB&I St Andrews Trophy team: Alan Dunbar (Rathmore, Irl), Craig Hinton (The Oxfordshire, Eng), Nathan Kimsey (Woodhall Spa, Eng), Kevin Phelan (Waterford Castle, Irl), Garrick Porteous (Bamburgh Castle, Eng), Rhys Pugh (Vale of Glamorgan, Wal), Neil Raymond (Corhampton, Eng), Graeme Robertson (Glenbervie, Sco), Ben Taylor (Walton Heath, Eng).

GB&I Jacques Leglise Trophy team: Harry Ellis (Meon Valley, Eng), Matthew Fitzpatrick (Hallamshire, Eng), Alex Gleeson (Castle, Irl), Patrick Kelly (Boston West, Eng), Gavin Moynihan (The Island, Irl), Bradley Neil (Blairgowrie, Sco), Max Orrin (North Foreland, Eng), Toby Tree (Worthing, Eng), Ashton Turner (Kenwick Park, Eng).

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