Wednesday 11 December 2019

Father and son showdown for Powers at Amateur Open

Three time Irish Close champion Eddie Power
Three time Irish Close champion Eddie Power

Brian Keogh

Romantic Ireland is not dead, and if you don't believe us, take a look at the field for the 113th Clare Coast Hotels-sponsored South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at Lahinch.

The Co Clare venue sees 128 hopefuls tee it up in today's first round. Thirty-two seeded players await them in tomorrow's draw, and while they do not include any of the six-man Irish team that finished second in the European Men's Team Championship, and just 15 of the 32 who competed in the Interprovincial Matches at The Island, there is no shortage of players eager to etch their names on the famous trophy.

The withdrawal of West Waterford's Gary Hurley, the favourite, has thrown the championship wide open and given hope to players looking to force Irish selectors' hands as they prepare to name their 11-man side for the Home Internationals.

At least one place in that side remains in the balance, and several players will be looking to muscle their way into discussions.

THREAT

Portmarnock's Geoff Lenehan, and former winners such as Limerick's Pat Murray, are close to the top of that list but will be wary of the threat posed by Moyola Park's Chris Selfridge.

Cork's Gary O'Flaherty and John Hickey will also be dangerous, and former finalist Joe Lyons, Knock's Colin Fairweather and Claremorris' Stephen Healy cannot be discounted.

Those looking for a fairytale story will notice 68-year old Barry Reddan from Co Louth, the 1987 champion, in the first round draw with 14-year old Mark Power from Kilkenny, son of three-time Irish Close champion Eddie Power.

Eddie received a bye in the second round by virtue of his sixth win in last month's Kilkenny Senior Scratch Cup, and while he could meet his two-handicap son in the latter stages, Lahinch is about family enjoyment.

Having never gone past the last eight, Power Snr is 49 and a youngster compared to Reddan or 63-year old former Walker Cup player Arthur Pierse.

"It's the last championship I play in now and it's fantastic," Eddie said. "I made my Home International debut here in 1987 – hence the great association and fondness for the place."

With Mark receiving a special invitation because he was within a shot of the handicap limit, it remains to be seen which of the Powers will have bragging rights later this week.

The past, present and future of Irish amateur golf has gathered in Co Clare and despite the many absentees, a happy outcome is almost guaranteed when the title is decided next Wednesday on one of the great championship courses.

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