Five Irish in Vagliano Trophy teams
 Leona Maguire

Leona Maguire

Maria Dunne confessed she was thrilled and surprised to be named alongside Annabel Wilson, Leona Maguire and Olivia Mehaffey in the Vagliano Trophy team as Douglas’ Sarah Byrne was named in the Junior Vagliano Trophy side for June's trip to Italy.

The 33-year old confessed after her win in the Irish Amateur Open Strokeplay on Sunday that it was probably "too little, too late" to earn a call-up.

"I definitely didn't think I made the team," Maria said. "I really believed it was too little too late. So today like 12 months ago for Curtis Cup I got a shock and am thrilled to represent GB&I again. I have never played the Vagliano Trophy before."

Dunne was named alongside Ireland’s trio of bronze medallists from the World Amateur Team Championships last year for the clash with the Continent of Europe at Golf Club Bogogno in Italy from 30 June and 1 July.

Elaine Farquharson-Black, who led GB&I to a memorable 11½-8½ win over the USA in the Curtis Cup at Dun Laoghaire last year, will captain the team and the Aberdeen-based lawyer will be looking to reverse a run of five consecutive wins by the Continent of Europe.

Claire Coughlan-Ryan continues in her role as captain of the Under-16 team to play in the Junior Vagliano Trophy match which runs parallel to the women’s competition.

Commenting on the squad Farquharson-Black said, “'I am looking forward to a great match. We have an excellent team, with a blend of youth and experience.”

Junior Vagliano Trophy captain Coughlan-Ryan added, “I look forward to working with a talented group of young golfers and trying to win the Junior Vagliano Trophy for the first time against the Continent of Europe.”

The eight-player GB&I team, which has been reduced from nine as in previous years, for the Vagliano Trophy match is:

  • Gemma Clews (Delamere Forest)
  • Sophie Lamb (Clitheroe)
  • India Clyburn (Woodhall Spa)
  • Leona Maguire (Slieve Russell)
  • Maria Dunne (Skerries)
  • Olivia Mehaffey (Royal County Down Ladies')
  • Alice Hewson (Berkhamstead)
  • Annabel Wilson (Lurgan)
  1. First reserve - Lianna Bailey (Kirby Muxole)
  2. Second reserve - Hollie Muse (West Lancs)

The six player GB&I team for the Junior Vagliano Trophy match is:

  • Sarah Byrne (Douglas)
  • Euphemie Rhodes (Burnham & Berrow)
  • Annabell Fuller (Roehampton)
  • Ffion Tynan (Minchinhampton)
  • Lily May Humphreys (Stoke by Nayland)
  • Carys Worby (Newport)
  1. First reserve- Caitlin Whitehead (Kendal)
  2. Second reserve - Beth Coulter (Kirkistown Castle)

Not since a 13-11 win over the Continent of Europe at Chantilly twelve years ago has GB&I lifted the Vagliano Trophy. A close match in 2015 ended 12½-11½ at the Malone Golf Club. The junior side was also defeated 10½– 7½ in Northern Ireland.

However, GB&I’s chances may be boosted by the inclusion of Leona Maguire, who is currently the number one women’s golfer in the World Amateur Golf Rankin.

 Maria Dunne. Picture Jenny Matthews/ Cashman Photography

Maria Dunne. Picture Jenny Matthews/Cashman Photography

The Cavan golfer, who represented Ireland at the Rio Olympics last year, chose to retain her amateur status and finish a degree at Duke University in the United States rather than pursue qualification for the LPGA Tour. 

Maguire, a member of Farquharson-Black’s victorious Curtis Cup squad will lead the GB&I charge in Italy. She will be joined by her fellow countrywomen and Curtis Cup teammates Olivia Mehaffey and Maria Dunne.

Sixteen-year-old Annabel Wilson, the youngest member of the team also joins the team from Ireland. 

Mehaffey, currently world number nine, Maguire and Wilson helped Ireland to a historic bronze medal in the Espirito Santo Trophy at the World Amateur Team Championships last year. 

Mehaffey’s individual wins at the Irish Women’s Open and Welsh Ladies Open Stroke Play Championships last season put her in Farquharson-Black’s plans for the Vagliano Trophy.

Dunne, the eldest of the group, joins the team after Sunday's win at the Irish Women’s Open Stroke Play.

Alice Hewson, India Clyburn, Gemma Clews and Sophie Lamb from England make up the rest of the team to face the continent of Europe. World number 38 Hewson, the highest ranked player from the English contingent and member of the victorious 2016 GB&I Curtis Cup team, finished runner-up in The Schooner Fall Classic and tied fourth in the English Women’s Amateur in 2016. 

Both Hewson and Clews previously represented GB&I in the Vagliano Trophy and made up the England side that competed in the Espirito Santo Trophy at the World Amateur Team Championships. Clyburn is included following her victory in the Mercedes Collegiate with NC State University in 2016.

Farquharson-Black may choose to reunite Clews and Lamb, who plays in her first Vagliano Trophy after winning the British Women’s Stroke Play Championship in 2016 after the pair helped England to retain the Seve Ballesteros Trophy earlier this month at El Saler Golf Club in Valencia.

The format for the Vagliano Trophy is four foursomes ties each morning and eight singles matches on the afternoon of Friday 30 June and Saturday 1 July.

The Junior Vagliano Trophy takes the form of three junior foursomes each morning and six junior singles matches each day with Douglas' Sarah Byrne making the team and Beth Coulter from Kirkistown Castle the second reserve.