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PHOTO: Ireland's Walker Cup representatives who will take to the famed Lahinch fairways this week for the Home Internationals. Photo by Golffile.
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The Home Internationals bring together the leading golfers from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. Played annually, and first staged in 1932, these matches are hosted by the Golfing Union of Ireland in 2019. Lahinch previously staged this tournament in 1987 and toasted a home victory.
Ireland count three Walker Cup players among their selection: Conor Purcell (Portmarnock), Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk), and James Sugrue (Mallow). This trio have fond memories of Lahinch from their exploits at the South of Ireland Championship in recent years. Purcell won his first major championship at the South in 2016 while Sugrue succeeded him as champion in 2017. Last year, Rafferty took the spoils.
As hosts, Ireland are bidding to win the title on home terrain once more having triumphed at Royal Portrush in 2015. This time, Ireland seek to regain the Raymond Trophy from England. Victory for England on the final day at Conwy last year prevented an Irish five in a row. Ireland created their own piece of history, in 2017, by winning a fourth successive title.
Ireland's dominance at the Home Internationals in recent years reflects the quality of players coming through the GUI's coaching system. With six players currently inside the top 100 on the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), Ireland's best players continue to maintain remarkably high standards. Within the last 12 months, players from Ireland have been victorious at some of the most prestigious events in the world.
Kinsale's John Murphy won the St Andrews Links Trophy at the home of golf in 2018. Dubliner Conor Purcell triumphed at the Australian Amateur Open in January. Holywood talent Tom McKibbin claimed the Peter McEvoy Trophy in April while Connemara's Luke O'Neill captured the German Boys Championship in June.
Golf never sleeps in Ireland. And the next success is never far away.