Ireland’s team to face the USA in The International King’s Cup has been confirmed at the conclusion of a final qualifying event held at Lough Erne Resort.
Following four regional qualifiers at Ennis Golf Club (Munster), Westport Golf Club (Connacht), Dunmurry Springs Golf Club (Leinster) and Lough Erne Resort (Ulster), 46 players arrived at the Co Fermanagh venue, focused on securing a place on Ireland’s 12 man (6 pairs) team to face the USA in May.
When the dust had settled, Martin Smith (Druid’s Heath), Liam Byrne (Hermitage GC), Colin O’Leary (Cill Dara GC) and Dunmurry Springs GC manager, Sean O’Gallachoir (Cloughaneely GC), had earned their places on the team.
“Last year two members from Dunmurry Springs – Paul and Darren – made the team and the feedback from them was excellent. They talked about the great spirit at the event and how they got to know everyone during tournament week,” said 33-year-old Sean who is playing alongside 43-year-old Colin O’Leary.
“I missed out qualifying last year but I was playing with a different partner. Hopefully we will give it a good go against the Americans. I’d like to think we are both fairly good at matchplay.”
Also booking their place in the Ireland team were long-term golfing partners, Martin Smith (Druid’s Heath) and Liam Byrne (Hermitage).
“It’s a pleasure to have qualified and to get the chance to play Lough Erne was a real bonus. Since being up there I have been telling everyone I have met how good it is. The ambience of the place, it’s a beautiful course. I’m just sorry I didn’t get up earlier,” said Liam (61).
Liam and Martin qualified in the over 50s category of the Championship section. At 67-years-old, Martin is still playing to a handicap of three and he’s looking forward to returning to Co. Fermanagh to face the USA.
“Lough Erne is beautiful but it was a real challenge in final qualifying with the strong winds. I’d love to play it on a calm day,” said Martin.
“We really want to go up there and enjoy the whole experience. Getting involved in this event, it’s the best €50 I’ve ever spent.”
The Ryder Cup-style tournament, supported by Tourism NI, honours golf’s greatest ambassador, Mr Arnold Palmer. The event, structured like the Ryder Cup, was created in 2016 when the United States Golf Challenge, the largest pairs better-ball tournament in the US brought a 16-man amateur team across the Atlantic to compete against Ireland in the first ever International King’s Cup.
Both teams will stay on-site at Lough Erne Resort, with full access to The Golf Academy. The Irish team will receive specially commissioned outerwear courtesy of Glenmuir and both teams will attend a Gala dinner as part of the event. This year’s International King’s Cup, with Ireland going for a hat-trick of wins, will run from 14-18 May.
Gross scores are noted below:
Open Championship Flight (4.9 or less)
Ryan Gribben and David Barron (Warrenpoint GC) 69
Senior (50 +) Championship Flight
Martin Smyth and Liam Byrne (Druids Heath GC/Hermitage GC) 75
Open Flight A (5-9.9)
Declan McKeever and Darren McKeever (Donegal GC) 75
Senior (50+) Flight A
Michael Ryan and Pat Creamer (Tipperary GC) 74
Open Flight B (10-14.9)
Sean O’Gallachoir and Colin O’Leary (Cloughaneely GC/Cill Dara GC) 73
Senior (50+) Flight B
Oliver McNamara and Martin White (Ennis GC/Woodstock GC) 79.