Holder Stuart Grehan and all of last year’s Home International winning team bar Rowan Lester will be missing having turned professional or opted to tee it up in the clashing St Andrew Links Trophy in Scotland.
But there’s still a top quality field assembled for the 76th edition of the CityNorth Hotel sponsored East of Ireland Amateur Championship which runs from Saturday to Monday at County Louth in Baltray, including former professionals Jim Carvill and Paul O'Hanlon.
Names like Joe Carr, Darren Clarke and Paul Dunne adorn the roll of honour and this year’s hopefuls include local star Thomas Mulligan, a native of Mornington, on the south bank of the nearby River Boyne.
Originally a member of Laytown and Bettystown, Mulligan is bidding to become the first home winner of the "East" since Finbarr Ronan triumphed in 1985.
Just 17, he has already made a name for himself by winning the Dundalk Scratch Cup last year and featuring prominently in men’s championships for the past two seasons.
A closing round of 67 on his most recent outing at the French Amateur Championship, where he was tied 11th, suggests Mulligan is coming into form at just the right time.
He also carded an impressive 68 on the final day of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open Championship at Royal Dublin in early May to secure a top-20 finish.
“It’s one of the tougher tracks you’ll play,” Mulligan said of Baltray. “It has a promotion on straight hitting and I hit the ball relatively straight. Around the greens it’s quite tricky. A good short game is needed as well.
"You have to mix it about a bit, there are a lot of tricky holes where you can’t just get a lob wedge and pop it up in the air. There are shots where you have to accept getting it on the green is a good shot.”
Reigning AIG Irish Amateur Close Champion Tiarnán McLarnon will be among the leading contenders for this year’s title having enjoyed a breakthrough victory at Tramore.
The Massereene man has already notched up a top-10 finish at the Welsh Stroke Play this season and he's keen to add a strokeplay title to his list of achievements.
Forrest Little’s Eoin Arthurs, winner of the East in 2008, is a man who enjoys the challenge at Baltray while Limerick’s Pat Murray cannot be discounted either, having finished second in 2011.
Stuart Bleakley (Shandon Park), Robbie Cannon (Balbriggan) and Joe Lyons (Galway) have tasted major glory in the past while Gary Collins (Rosslare) and Eanna Griffin (Waterford) were runners up in Championships last season, Gary in the North and Eanna in the West of Ireland.
Ireland international Lester is well capable of contending while Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty captured the Scratch Cup at his home club earlier this season and continues to improve.
Castle’s Daniel Holland reached the final of this year’s West of Ireland and is a ferocious competitor while Michael Ryan from New Ross won the Leinster Boys’ in 2015 and Mallow’s James Sugrue has rediscovered some of his best form this season.
Ardee’s Eugene Smith has been knocking on the door for a few seasons and could finally make the breakthrough in what is almost a home game for him while 2010 South of Ireland champion John Greene from Carlow and Portmarnock, cannot be discounted if his driving is even remotely close to its imperious best.
The first round gets underway on Saturday, 4 June. The top 48 and ties will make it through to Monday’s 36-hole finale.
As for the St Andrews Links Trophy, which is being played for just the 28th time since it was established in 1989, the following Irish players are entered:
St Andrews Links Trophy entrants:
- John-Ross Galbraith Ireland
- Jack Hume Ireland
- Alex Gleeson Ireland
- Colm Campbell Ireland
- Robin Dawson Ireland
- Conor O’Rourke Ireland
- Colin Fairweather Ireland
- Stuart Grehan Ireland
- Dermot McElroy Ireland
- Jonathan Yates Ireland
- (Reserve list: Eanna Griffin)
East of Ireland Amateur Open 2016, sponsored by CityNorth Hotel
Round 1 - Saturday, June 4
- 07:30 Peter Kirby (-1) Dun Laoghaire Stephen Healy (-1) The Royal Dublin Eddie McCormack (-1) Galway Bay
- 07:40 Ryan Berkeley (-1) Dun Laoghaire Darragh Coghlan (-1) Portmarnock Mark Collins (-1) Killeen Castle
- 07:50 Daniel Brennan (-1) Shannon Alan Dowling (-1) Hermitage Ben Best (-1) Rathmore
- 08:00 Jack Pierse (-1) Portmarnock Kyle McCarron (-1) North West Ross Steedman (-1) Courtown
- 08:10 Aaron Kearney (-1) Castlerock Theo Coffey (-1) Slieve Russell James Fox (-1) Portmarnock
- 08:20 Jordan Hood (-1) Galgorm Castle Andrew Mccormack (-1) Castletroy William Russell (-1) Clandeboye
- 08:30 Joe Lyons (-1) Galway Cathal Butler (-1) Kinsale Thomas Hackett (-1) The Royal Dublin
- 08:40 Matt McKnight (-4) USA Sean Ryan (-2) The Royal Dublin Jake Whelan (-2) Newlands
- 08:50 Paul McCarthy (-2) Mallow Mark Morrissey (-2) Mount Wolseley Robert Neville (-2) The Links Portmarnock
- 09:00 Keith Egan (-2) Carton House James Sugrue (-2) Mallow Gavin Young (-2) Nenagh
- 09:10 Dwayne Mallon (-3) Dungannon Sean Flanagan (-2) Co. Sligo Michael Reid (-2) Galgorm Castle
- 09:20 Daniel Holland (-3) Castle Gavin McKenna (-3) Fortwilliam Shaun O'Connor (-3) Luttrellstown Castle
- 09:30 Tiarnan McLarnon (-2) Massereene Gary Collins (-3) Rosslare Pat Murray (-3) Limerick
- 12:30 Robbie Pierse (-1) Grange Gareth Carr (-0) Mullingar David Reddan (-1) Nenagh
- 12:40 Adam Doran (-0) Ardee Stephen Coulter (-1) Warrenpoint Jonathan Gourley (0) Shandon Park
- 12:50 Evan Farrell (0) Ardee Rory Williamson (-0) Holywood Mark Mullen (-1) Rosslare
- 13:00 Mark MacGrath (-0) Limerick Jack Doherty (-0) Carton House Declan Reidy (-0) Co. Sligo
- 13:10 Nils Conway (-0) Grange John McGinn (-0) Laytown & Bettystown Matthew Grehan (0) Tullamore
- 13:20 Gerard Dunne (-0) Co. Louth Ryan Symington (-1) Lisburn Darragh Crawford (0) Bundoran
- 13:30 Jamie Fletcher (-0) Warrenpoint Conor McCaughey (0) Dungannon Christopher O'Connor (1) Corrstown
- 13:40 Eoin O'Connor (-0) Elm Park Stephen Brady (-0) Galway Owen O'brien (-0) Limerick
- 13:50 Cillian Moloney (0) Fota Island Colin Woodroofe (-0) Blainroe Jack Ryan (-1) Castletroy
- 14:00 David Foy (0) Laytown & Bettystown Padhraic O'Brien (0) Co. Louth John Greene (-0) Portmarnock
- 14:10 Colm Crowley (-0) Woodbrook Liam Grehan (-0) Mullingar Gareth Bohill (-0) Co. Louth
- 14:20 Geoff Lenehan (-2) Portmarnock Owen Crooks (0) Bushfoot Marc Nolan (0) Delgany
- 14:30 Caolan Rafferty (-3) Dundalk Rowan Lester (-3) Hermitage Robert Cannon (-3) Balbriggan
- 07:30 Aaron Grant (-1) Dundalk Alec Myles (-1) Newlands Gavin Fitzmaurice (-1) Balcarrick
- 07:40 Roy Connolly (-1) Carton House Richard Knightly (-1) The Royal Dublin Fergal O'Sullivan (-1) Tralee
- 07:50 Noel Crawford (-1) Mourne Seamus Cullen (-1) Slieve Russell Stephen Kinch (-1) Hollystown
- 08:00 Alan Lowry (-1) Esker Hills Alexander Wilson (-2) Portmarnock Jamie Sutherland (-1) Galgorm Castle
- 08:10 Cian Geraghty (-1) Laytown & Bettystown Ryan Gribben (-2) Warrenpoint Stephen Watts (-1) Cairndhu
- 08:20 Kevin Stack (-1) Dungarvan Daniel Vaughan (-1) Ardglass Dylan Brophy (-1) Castleknock
- 08:30 Paul O'hanlon (-2) Carton House Brian Kelly (-1) Spain Gareth Lappin (-1) Belvoir Park
- 08:40 Michael Buggy (-2) Castlecomer Jim Carvill (-2) Banbridge Jack McDonnell (-2) Forrest Little.
- 08:50 Gavin Smyth (-2) Clonmel Mark Shanahan (-1) Castlemartyr John Hickey (-2) Cork
- 09:00 Noel Anderson (-2) South Africa Shaun Carter (-2) The Royal Dublin Michael Ryan (-2) New Ross
- 09:10 Paul Coughlan (-2) Moate Ronan Mullarney (-2) Galway Ian O'Rourke (-2) The Royal Dublin
- 09:20 Eanna Griffin (-3) Waterford Thomas Mulligan (-3) Co. Louth Eoin Arthurs (-2) Forrest Little.
- 09:30 Gary McDermott (-3) Carton House Thomas O'Connor (-3) Athlone Eugene Smith (-3) Ardee
- 12:30 Cathal Nolan (-0) Galway Ted Collins (-0) Dun Laoghaire Harry Duggan (1) Kilkenny
- 12:40 Peter Kane (-0) Ashbourne Cameron Raymond (-1) Newlands Caolan Kennedy (0) Forrest Little.
- 12:50 Thomas Nolan (0) Galway Shane Mcglynn (-0) Portmarnock Paul Behan (0) St. Anne's
- 13:00 Gary McGrane (-1) The Royal Dublin Michael Brett (0) Portmarnock Stuart Bleakley (-1) Shandon Park
- 13:10 Luke Donnelly (0) Kilkenny William Hanna (-0) Kilkeel Michael Sinclair (-0) Knock
- 13:20 Robert Farrell (0) New Ross Rob Brazill (-0) Naas Patrick Neville (-0) Bearna
- 13:30 Nicky Grant (-0) Shandon Park Brian Doran (0) Baltinglass Keith Murphy (1) Charlesland
- 13:40 Daniel Coyle (-0) Portmarnock Niall Foley (0) The Island Conor Ryan (-0) Dun Laoghaire
- 13:50 Stephen Walsh (0) Portmarnock John Conroy (-0) Bray John McCarthy (-0) Stackstown
- 14:00 Steffan O'Hara (-0) Co. Sligo Craig Bolger (0) Carlow Stefan Greenberg (-1) Tandragee
- 14:10 Fergal Kennedy (0) The Island Quentin Carew (-0) Edenderry Neil McKinstry (-0) Cairndhu
- 14:20 Declan O'Neill (-1) Carton House Paul Reavey (-1) Warrenpoint Ross Dutton (-1) Tandragee
- 14:30 Sean Moran (0) Co. Meath Bryan McSweeney (0) The Royal Dublin Cian Dullaghan (0) Greenore