Two years ago, Dermot McElroy was at Portmarnock Golf Club to take part in the Darren Clarke Foundation coaching weekend. Now he’s in the Great Britain & Ireland St Andrews Trophy squad battling to return to the north Dublin links for this summer’s clash with the Continent of Europe. Dermot McElroy, Kevin Phelan and Alan Dunbar have been named in a preliminary 12-man Great Britain & Ireland St Andrews Trophy training squad for this year’s clash with the Continent of Europe at Portmarnock from 31 August and 1 September.

Rathmore ace Dunbar and Welshman Rhys Pugh - the Irish Amateur Open champion - are the only members of September’s Walker Cup winning side to remain in the amateur ranks and make the squad.

The new-look group features players who have enjoyed success across the globe, including Neil Raymond, winner of the 2012 New South Wales Stroke Play, Paul Shields, who shot a 61 at the recent 2012 Gauteng North Open in South Africa and the University of Alabama’s Jason Shufflebotham who won last year’s prestigious Sam Hall Intercollegiate.

Among those also showing good form on the US college scene are Ben Taylor, of Nova Southeastern University in Florida, and the University of North Florida’s Phelan (Waterford Castle), who finished third and fourth respectively at last week’s Jones Cup Invitational.

Ballymena star McElroy was called up to the GB&I squad late last season to take part in the Walker Cup team’s final squad session.

The squad will meet for the first time at Portmarnock from 4-6 July in a match play team environment consisting of two series of foursomes and singles matches.  

Victorious 2011 Walker Cup Captain Nigel Edwards, back to lead a St Andrews Trophy side for a second time, is delighted with the talent at his disposal.

“We have based our preliminary selection on performances throughout 2011 and will look to add to this squad following the Amateur Championship at Royal Troon in June,” said Edwards, who played on winning St Andrews Trophy teams in 2002, 2004 and 2006.

“A number of players have started the season well in Australia, South Africa and on the US college circuit.

“My message to the squad, and those players who narrowly missed out, is to keep playing well through the spring and summer and prove that you should be in the final nine.”

The selectors, who will attend events throughout the summer, fully expect several players not included in the initial 12-man squad to be in contention for a place in the final nine-man team.

GB&I Squad:

Alan Dunbar - Rathmore; Rhys Enoch - Truro; Ben Loughrey - Wrag Barn; Dermot McElroy - Ballymena; Kevin Phelan - Waterford Castle; Garrick Porteous - Bamburgh Castle; Rhys Pugh - Vale of Glamorgan; Neil Raymond - Corhampton; Paul Shields - Kirkhill; Jason Shufflebotham - Prestatyn; Ben Taylor - Walton Heath; James White - Lundin

GB&I Selectors: Nigel Edwards, Captain; Jonathan Plaxton, Chairman; Allan Brodie; Michael Burns

About The St Andrews Trophy

The St Andrews Trophy is the biennial mens equivalent of the annual Jacques Leglise Trophy (which will also take place at Portmarnock on 31 August and 1 September). Both matches comprise four morning foursomes followed by eight afternoon singles on two consecutive days.

In 1955 The R&A suggested to the European Golf Association that there should be an international match between Great Britain & Ireland and the Continent of Europe. The first match was played at Wentworth and the series has continued on a biennial basis in non-Walker Cup years. The first encounter was a resounding success for the home team, but in recent years, playing alternately home and away the Continental teams have recorded victories. The St Andrews Trophy was presented by The R&A in 1963.