Ulster will have their sights set on back-to-back wins when the Women’s Interprovincials are played under a new format at Royal County Down Golf Club from April 27 - 29.
Under the new format each of the four teams of eight players will play one 18 hole stroke play qualifying round with the best six scores to count.
The provinces will then be seeded from one to four on the basis of the stroke play results. The draw for first match play tie shall be as follows: 1-v- 4 and 2-v-3.
The second match play tie will be the losers of each first round tie and the winners of the first round tie who shall compete for the title. Each match play tie will consist of three foursomes and six singles matches.
Ulster, who last year claimed the title for the first time in 21 years and broke Leinster’s run of six consecutive wins from 2004 to 2009, will start as favourites after further strengthening its side.
The northerners boast the talents of GB&I Curtis Cup star Danielle McVeigh (Royal Co. Down Ladies) who has home advantage for the week, in addition to internationals Victoria Bradshaw (Bangor), Louise Coffey (Malone) and Charlene Reid (Royal Portrush).
The side is completed by Gemma McClenaghan (Greencastle) and Lucy Simpson (Massereene) and Junior Internationals Laura and Paula Grant from Lisburn. who are making their debuts.
Leinster once again field a formidable team and look likely to be the strongest of challengers this year with many team members having already made an impressive early start to the season.
The side will be lead by the 2010 Irish Close Champion Mary Dowling who opened the year with a win at the Royal Co. Down Ladies Scratch Salver in late March, while the Royal Portrush and Woodbrook Scratch Cup winners, Louise Mernagh (Woodenbridge) and Karen Delaney (Carlow) are also members of the eastern team.
The only debutant in the side is Seapoint’s Carla Reynolds with former internationals Maria Dunne (Skerries), Aedin Murphy (Carlow) and Deirdre Smith (Co. Louth) adding strength to the team throughout.
A young Munster side, who contended strongly for the title last year, will once again be looking to cause an upset.
Current international Gillian O’Leary (Cork) leads the team and is joined by experienced campaigners Sarah Cunningham (Ennis), Aoife Lowry (Tipperary), Karen O’Neill (Douglas) and Mary Sheehy (Tralee).
The talented Emma O’Driscoll is a welcomed addition to the team with juniors Sinead Sexton (Lahinch) and Chloe Ryan completing the team.
Niamh Kitching (Limerick) will once again lead Connacht into battle with girls’ International Sarah Helly (Enniscrone) and the impressive Holly Robinson (Co. Sligo) in their ranks as they go in search of their first victory in the tournament.
The first Inter Provincial Matches took place in 1964, with Leinster winning the inaugural series of matches and going on to dominate the Championship, winning the trophy on 31 occasions in addition to sharing the title in with Ulster in 1967.
Munster have claimed 7 victories over the years with their most recent wins coming in 2002 and 2003 while Ulster have won five titles.
ULSTER Captain: Dr. Christine Crockett (R.C.D.L.), Manager: Mrs Janet Wilson (Royal Belfast), Victoria Bradshaw (Bangor), Louise Coffey (Malone), Laura Grant (Lisburn), Paula Grant (Lisburn), Gemma McClenaghan (Greencastle), Danielle McVeigh (R.C.D.L.), Charlene Reid (Royal Portrush), Lucy Simpson (Massereene)
LEINSTER Captain: Denise McCarthy (Woodenbridge), Manager: Lucy Tormey (Mullingar), Ciara Butler (Newlands), Karen Delaney (Carlow), Mary Dowling (New Ross), Maria Dunne (Skerries), Louise Mernagh (Woodenbridge), Aedin Murphy (Carlow), Carla Reynolds (Seapoint), Deirdre Smith (Co. Louth)
MUNSTER Captain: Lynda Maher (Charleville), Manager: Mary McMahon (Ennis), Sarah Cuningham (Ennis), Aoife Lowry (Tipperary), Emma O’Driscoll (Ballybunion), Gillian O’Leary (Cork), Karen O’Neill (Douglas), Chloe Ryan (Castletroy), Sinead Sexton (Lahinch), Mary Sheehy (Tralee)
CONNACHT Captain: Rita Grealish (Galway), Manager: Vonnie Noonan (Co.Longford), Doireann Carney (Galway), Anne Cassidy (Portumna), Suzanne Corcoran (Portumna), Ailbhe Farrell (Roscommon), Sarah Helly (Enniscrone), Niamh Kitching (Limerick), Anne McCormack (Roscommon), Holly Robinson (Co.Sligo).