O'Hanlon key man as Carton bid to make it home rule in Barton Cup
East of Ireland champion and former professional Paul O'Hanlon will spearhead Carton House's bid to capture the AIG Barton Shield on home soil this week.
The annual festival of golf that is the AIG Cups and Shields All-Ireland finals gets under way at the Co Kildare venue today, with the Leinster champions taking on last year's runners-up Galway in the semi-finals.
The men from the west return to GUI headquarters with a score to settle having gone down heavily to Royal Dublin in last year's decider.
"We really didn't show up on the day," said Galway veteran Joe Lyons. "Carton will be very strong with the likes of Gary McDermott and Paul O'Hanlon in their team, but we are up for it."
On the other side of the draw, Ulster champions Warrenpoint play Cork.
The Co Down men beat Castlerock by six holes in the Ulster semi-finals and edged out North West by four holes in the decider with Colm Campbell and Stephen Coulter (his caddie for his Irish Amateur Open win) 19-under-par for their three games together, while North of Ireland stroke play champion Jamie Fletcher partners Paul Reavey.
Reigning champions Royal Dublin bowed out to Portmarnock earlier this season and it was Carton House who took the Leinster pennant when they beat UCD by three holes at Howth.
With O'Hanlon in their ranks, Carton will be tough to beat on home soil but Galway retained their Connacht title thanks to a 13-hole win against Galway Bay, with Mullingar Scratch Cup champion Ronan Mullarney partnering Liam Power and Lyons playing alongside Cathal Nolan.
Munster champions Cork overcame Tramore in their provincial decider, with Mark Ford partnering Brian Kelleher and Gary O'Flaherty forming a strong partnership with John Hickey.
In the AIG Junior Cup, Castle begin their bid for a possible Junior and Senior Cup double against Tralee, but they are not the only club dreaming of a double success.
Athenry are also vying for glory in the Jimmy Bruen Shield and the Galway club face their first challenge against Ulster Junior Cup champions Lurgan.