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Winter Leagues


Winter League preview - Day 2 - Group A

Posted on 9 Jan '24 by Dave Hayden II


(Disclaimer: Winter League results are only available from the year 2000 onward. So in the same way that Manchester United fans believe that football only began in 1993, as they desperately try to erase 18 of Liverpool's league titles, this preview will ignore the years pre-2000 and focus solely with the period which I will call the "Premier Winter League" era. So please accept my apologies for any omissions.)

Get ready to laugh your winter blues away as the notorious Group A kicks off the proceedings every Sunday at 9am. These fearless individuals show us that people with a twisted sense of humour can also find joy in torturing themselves, willingly giving up their precious Sunday morning sleep-in to face the merciless Irish winter. Afterall, who needs a cosy bed when you can battle nature's elements for a hearty dose of freezing fun? Some people take saying the "chilling out" far too literally!

Dan Dans: (Michael Ahern -1, Dan Coady -11, Angela Shanahan -15 & Dolores Pegley -20; combined handicap: -47)
The steadfast Dan Dans remain as one of the Winter League's most enduring sides, as they enter their seventh consecutive Winter League season without any alterations to their formidable line-up. Having reached the semi-finals in two successive campaigns (2020 & 2022), last year proved a chastening experience for the quartet, when they finished bottom of their group, taking just eight points from their three matches. Leading from the front is Michael Ahern, the 2016 Leinster Gents Inter Strokeplay champion and one of the lowest handicapped players in the field. He is supported by the team's namesake in 2010 Winter League winner Dan Coady, who will undoubtably be eager to show off his accuracy with the putter, though maybe not necessarily on the greens! The third member of the team is the ever-dependable Angela Shanahan, who was part of the same 2010 Winter League winning team as Dan. The final Dan Dans player Dolores Pegley is also a former Winter League winner, having claimed victory in 2008. Dolores is currently enjoying a purple patch having won six club prizes in 2023, her best season on record. Despite underachieving last time around, the Dan Dans are a very dan-gerous side, if they can get off to a good start and build some confidence then it's very likely they could reach the latter stages once again.

Murphs: (Tom McMorrow -3, Noel Leonard -7, Brenda Purcell -8 & Joe Murphy -9; combined handicap: -27)
The Murphs, like a sitcom's cast, have been doing the hokey-pokey with Winter Leagues for the last decade, swapping names, changing players and occasionally even completely vanishing like Houdini! This year, however, sees the 'classic line-up' reunited for the first time since the 2019 campaign. After showing absolutely no commitment to his team last year by refusing to commute from Australia, 2000 and 2002 Winter League winner Noel Leonard has nevertheless been welcomed back into the squad for the upcoming campaign. Noel is joined by 2004 Dublin Ladies Inter Matchplay, 2008 & 2018 Dublin Ladies Inter Strokeplay and 2008 All Ireland Inter Ladies Strokeplay champion, Brenda Purcell, whose list of achievements alone have used up the majority of the quota for the Murphs write up! But alas, Brenda is not the only All Ireland champion on the side, with Joe Murphy having been a part of the victorious Lucan team at the All Ireland Team Event in Fermoy in 2003. The final member of the side, and the team's lowest handicapped player, is Tom McMorrow. Tom is a regular for the Dublin Intermediate Inter County team and is exceptionally skilled with an iron in his hand. It's hard to gauge the teams recent form, with the side not having completed a season together in five years, however, they say form is temporary but class is permanent, and if that's true then these guys will have a serious chance.

New Faces: (Robert Mannix -8, Adrienne Kelly -11, Mick Dooley -12 & Dermot Buckley -16; combined handicap: -47)
The New Faces are one of the two brand new teams in this season's Winter Leagues, though the team name may be somewhat of a misnomer, as only two of the four players are making their Winter League debut. In fact, it's more like Two Faces, as the other two members of the team have not only played in the Winter Leagues before, they're both former champions! The first of those two players is Adrienne Kelly, who was part of the Seve's Sockets side who won the Winter League in 2017, having previously picked up a winners medal as a substitute for Coogan's Bluff two years earlier. Mick Dooley is the other former champion hoping to face up to the challenge of the Winter League course, just as he did so impressively in 2009 when defeating the Diggers in the final. Robert Mannix is one of the two Winter League debutants, having recently returned to the game after an absence, it's anybody's guess how he'll fair in the coal face of battle. The final member of the team, and second green-horn, is Dermot Buckley who is in his first year as a member of the club. Dermot has made great strides in recent months, picking up his first two prizes at the backend of the season, and with the handicapper yet to catch up with him, few will be eager to face him. Let's face it, predicting the fate of New Faces is like trying to read a horoscope with a blindfold on. Success or flop, it's a face-off!

Oddballs: (John McDermott 0, Dermot Heffernan -3, Ciaran Ennis -8 & Ann Heffernan -21; combined handicap: -32)
The 'Oddballs' started life as the 'Chain Smokers' in 2019 before becoming the 'Unbelievables' in 2023, as they must take an odd pleasure from having me design new team crests on a regular basis! The team members have changed slightly over the seasons, with their best performance coming in 2022, when they reached the semi-final stage. However, two of the members of the 2022 team don't feature this year, though three of the original four from their debut season are ready to do battle. The team is headed by the lowest handicapped player in this year's Winter Leagues, the unconventional John McDermott, who missed out on the teams run to the semi-final in 2022. John is joined by Oddball ever-present Dermot Heffernan, who is coming off his most successful year in the club in which he found himself in the winner's enclosure on five occasions. Those two peculiarities are joined by the returning Dublin Junior Inter County player Ciaran Ennis, who continues to improve year-on-year and has lost 6 shots since making his Winter League debut in 2019. The final member of the quirky quartet is Ann Heffernan, who made her debut in the Winter Leagues last season and the valuable experience gained will undoubtedly benefit her greatly in the upcoming campaign. With recent form that covers the spectrum from the sublime down to the downright ridiculous, it would probably be easier to predict the lotto balls than the chances of the Oddballs!

Group A prediction:
Of all the groups in this year's event, Group A is probably the most difficult to predict due to the mix of teams. From a brand new team, to one playing together for the first time in five years, to a successful team coming off the back of a disastrous 2023 campaign and the enigma of the Oddballs. Sadly, I think the lack of experience may cost the New Faces this time around, while I fear the low handicaps of the gents on the Oddballs will leave them giving too many shots. For that reason, I'm going to turn a blind eye to the Dan Dan's 2023 campaign and send them through alongside the vastly experienced Murphs.
Going through: Dan Dans & Murphs. Going out: New Faces & Oddballs.

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