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Rockmount Golf Club is host club for this year’s Irish Junior Foursomes and Irish Under 16 Championship. A prime parkland venue situated in south Belfast, Rockmount will showcase Ireland’s leading underage players across four days in August.
On Tuesday, 22 August Athenry, Ballybunion, Dun Laoighaire and Bangor will compete for the Irish Junior Foursomes title. In the first of the semi-finals, Munster champions Ballybunion play Athenry while Dun Laoighaire face Ulster champions Bangor.
Meanwhile, the Irish Under 16 Championship tees off on Wednesday, 23 August. The protagonists will battle it out over 54 holes with the top 50 and ties progressing to the final round on Friday, 25 August.
Rosslare’s John Brady reigned supreme at Clonmel in 2016, winning by six shots. Germany’s Laurenz Schiergen, fourth last year and winner of the under-15 trophy, could take the title abroad for the first time although he faces a strong home challenge.
Lisburn’s Aaron Marshall, who was part of the Ulster team that won the Interprovincial Championship at Blarney, is among the leading home challengers along with his Ulster teammates: Josh Black (Hilton Templepatrick), Odhran Maguire (Slieve Russel), Tom McKibbin (Holywood), Scott Miller (Clandeboye), Keaton Morrison (Greenacres) and Jack Shellard (Lisburn) are also in action at Rockmount.
McKibbin completed an Ulster double earlier this season, winning both the Under-16 Open and Under-16 Close titles having also won the Munster Under 16 title at Blarney in April. Clandeboye’s Scott Miller is the current Connacht Under 16 Champion.
Having captured both the Irish and Ulster Under-14 crowns, it has already been a wonderful season for Tandragee’s Edward Rowe, and with confidence high after those two victories, he could mount another title challenge at Rockmount.
The Irish Under 16 Championship, which replaced the Under-15 Championship in 2015, has become a popular event with parents and competitors alike. Played over three rounds, the top 50 and ties will progress to the final day.
Rockmount officially opened for play in 1995 and the course has matured rapidly during the intervening years. Bunkers are a major feature and water plays its part too with hazards around the fifth and sixth greens, a large drainage ditch across the 13th fairway and a small pond in front of the 14th tee. If all this is not enough, there is no relief from staked trees, making accuracy a premium. All told, it should make for a fascinating championship.