BANN Hire generously sponsors this year’s Winter League, thanks to the kind auspices of Shane McCrory.
The format seems to have met with approval because the interest has been remarkably high.
There are eight teams, each with 16 players.
The teams are very evenly matched and each one has a reasonable chance of finishing first. What is vitally important is a 100% turnout. Any team that can manage that will boost their chances considerably.
Let’s have a look at the eight teams and assess their chances. Many people will not believe this but I have predicted the winners in the Winter League more times than not.
Team 1, captained by Trevor Woods.
Trevor captained the winning team last year and he has a good chance of doing so again.
His top 10 players are Trevor himself, John Bell, Alan Caughey, Neville Kerr, Norman Doak, Dermot Dawson, Cathal McNiff, Gerry Blevins, Walter Smyth and Aaron Clydesdale.
This team should finish in the top three.
Team 2, captained by Philip Strong.
Philip has an excellent record as a winter league team captain but his chances this year are not good. I know he would love to prove me wrong and I hope he does.
His top 10 players are Philip himself, Paul Cochrane, Philip Mallon, Danny O’Boyle, Michael Robinson, David Cherry, Malcolm Hanna, Sean M. Quinn, Alex Clarke and William Malcolmson.
This team will be lucky to finish in the top five.
Team 3, captained by Dougie Stevenson.
Dougie is something of a winter league specialist. He has captained more winning teams than anyone. And he has an excellent chance of doing so again.
His top 10 players are Dougie himself, Dennis Watt, Verdun Bond, Josh Lockhart, John Convery, Ian Boyce, Kerry McCloskey, Declan Dooher, Shane Crossan and Paddy Malcolmson.
This team are the favourites to win.
Team 4, captained by John Hanna.
John Hanna would dearly love to captain a winter league winning team and, this year, he could do just that.
His top 10 players are John himself, Dominic Quinn, Albert Morrison, Colin McKinney, Matthew Mallon, Conor Mulholland, Mark McCullough, Derek Mathers, P.J. Johnston and Laurence Bramall.
This team could easily finish in the top three.
Team 5, captained by John McDowell.
John is the competitions convener and he had the final say in arranging the teams. He certainly didn’t do himself any favours with his own team.
His top 10 players are John himself, Sherwin Curran, Michael Allison, Nigel Bryson, Fergie Cosgrove, Joe Whiteside, Robert Canning, Stephen Orr, Noel Cruikshanks and Ian Young.
This team will struggle to stay out of the bottom two.
Team 6, captained by Trevor Mulholland.
Trevor is currently in great form and he could inspire this team to great things. He has several top-notch players.
His top 10 are Trevor himself, Alan McVey, Jeffrey Brown, John Poots, Kenny Jones, William McCandless, Seamus McGrath, Darren Barker, Cathal O’Neill and Kieran McGreevey.
This team should finish in the top three and could well win.
Team 7, captained by Merton McDowell.
There is no one more enthusiastic than Merton McDowell when it comes to golf. I hope he doesn’t get too depressed when this team finish last. I hope I’m wrong.
His top 10 are Merton himself, Mervyn Waddell, Colin Kennedy, John Crothers, Malcolm Russell, Luke Woods, Robert Clydesdale, Eamon McAnarney, Joe Brush and Joe McConville.
This team could finish last or they could surprise everyone by finishing second last.
Team 8, captained by Garreth Moody.
Garreth has won everything worth winning this year. Could he cap it all by leading a team to victory in the winter league? Somehow I doubt it.
His top 10 players are Garreth himself, John Redpath, Sean McGreevey, Colin McDonald, Brian Parkes, Colin Dodds, Mel Hylands, John Parkes and Sam Wilkinson.
A top 5 placing is the best this team can hope for.
There you have it. Eight teams with high hopes of winter league success. We wish them all the best of luck. And the end of it all, there can only be one winner and my bet is team number 3. It should be great fun. Let the battles commence!