Connacht might not have won the Interprovincial Championship since 2011 but the men from the west made their intentions clear by opening with a 6-5 win over defending champions Munster at Tullamore.
Co Sligo’s Sean Flanagan and Galway’s Joe Lyons ended day one with 100 percent records on what was an interesting day for the selectors as they prepare to pick the team for next month’s Home Internationals at Lahinch.
Having reached the semi-finals of the South and the quarter-finals in the Close, Flanagan could not have asked for a better start, partnering TJ Ford to a tight foursomes win over Geoff Lenehan and Pat Murray before going to win his singles comfortably against Cathal Butler.
Lyons, who won the Munster Strokeplay earlier this year at the age of 47, was the experienced half of a winning foursomes partnership with Roscommon debutant Simon Walker, beating newcomers Greg O’Mahony and South winner Sean Desmond 3&1.
Lyons went on to beat O’Mahony in the singles to help Connacht turn a 2.5-1.5 foursome lead into a one-point win overall as the singles session was shared.
While it was a narrow defeat for Munster, they will still have high hopes if they can beat Ulster today and players such as Eanna Griffin and Peter O’Keeffe can continue to play as well and the debutants ease into the competition.
Leinster, who are the favourites on paper, showed their strength in depth with an 8-3 win over Ulster and they will prove a major test for Connacht in the second round of matches on Thursday.
Debutants Keith Egan and Hugh Foley impressed with two wins apiece — Egan partnering Carton House team mate to victory over Reece Black and William Small before taking an excellent scalp with a 2&1 win over Tiarnan McLarnon the afternoon.
Egan came close to making the Irish team via the Bridgestone Order of Merit and having reached the final of the South, two more good days could be enough to earn him a place at Lahinch.
It was also a good day for Hermitage’s Rowan Lester and Dun Laoghaire’s Alan Fahy as they also won twice,
Lester is coming back from injury and a good week may feel he needs to put in a good performance this week to retain his place on the Irish team.
The Hermitage man had an excellent one hole win with Robert Brazill over McLarnon and Colm Campbell and he will be keen to lead from the front again they they face Peter O’Keeffe and Griffin in the opening foursomes on Thursday.
2019 Interprovincial Championship, Tullamore GC, August 27-29
Munster 5 Connacht 6
P O'Keeffe & E Griffin bt R Mullarney & J McDonnell 5&4;
G O'Mahony & S Desmond lost to J Lyons & S Walker 3&1;
G Lenehan & P Murray lost to TJ Ford & S Flanagan 1 hole;
A McCormack & C Butler halved with H Gillivan & A Hill.
P O'Keeffe halved with J McDonnell;
E Griffin bt S Walker 1 hole;
S Desmond lost to R Mullarney 4&3;
G Lenehan bt H Gillivan 3&2;
G O'Mahony lost to J Lyons 3&2;
P Murray bt TJ Ford 1 hole;
C Butler lost to S Flanagan 5&4
Ulster 3 Leinster 8
T McLarnon & C Campbell lost to R Brazill & R Lester 1 hole;
M McClean & M McKinstry lost to A Fahy & H Foley 5&3;
R Williamson & J Hood lost to R Moran & G Dunne 2&1;
R Black & W Small lost to P O'Hanlon & K Egan 1 hole
M McClean bt R Brazill 3&2;
M McKinstry lost to R Lester 3&2;
T McLarnon lost K Egan 2&1;
R Williamson lost to H Foley 2 holes;
C Campbell bt R Moran 3&1;
R Black lost to A Fahy 2&1;
J Hood bt P O'Hanlon 6&5
0800 Connacht v Ulster
R Mullarney & J McDonnell v T McLarnon & C Campbell;
J Lyons & S Walker v M McClean & M McKinstry;
S Flanagan & TJ Ford v R Black & W Small;
H Gillivan & A Hill v R Williamson & J Hood
0840 Munster v Leinster
P O’Keeffe & E Griffin v R Brazill & R Lester;
A McCormack & G O’Mahony v H Foley & A Fahy;
C Butler & S Desmond v R Moran & G Dunne;
G Lenehan & P Murray v P O’Hanlon & K Egan
Singles in afternoon.