The Winter League is all set to start. There are seven teams in this year’s competition and they will all be trying their best to win.
The keys to success are every player turning out every week and trying to avoid disqualifications. It’s as simple as that.
I have analysed each team very carefully and attempted to predict the outcome. I am not always right but I am very seldom wrong. The next seven weeks will tell the tale.
Remember that it is only a game after all and the important thing is to enjoy the contest. Have fun!
Team: Johnny McKinstrey (captain), Neil Clydesdale, John McDowell, Gareth Martin, Joe Glass, John Redpath, Paul Faulkner, Kenny Baines, Nigel Dowds, Brian Knox, David McAllister, Felix Duffy, Robin Jardine and John Cowan.
Verdict: Johnny McKinstrey set a new scoring record in last year’s winter league. He scored 43 points for the 14 holes course. Playing off 25, he went round in 4 over par. But one player doesn’t make a team and Johnny will be lucky to finish in the top half this year with team 1.
Team:Sean Quinn (captain), Alan McVey, Nigel Bryson, Cathal O’Neill, Cameron Morton, Philip McCourt, Peter Cruikshanks, Seamus McGrath, John Poots, Brian Parkes, Aidan Lavery, Gerry McBrien, Lyle Rea and Tom Nelson.
Verdict: Alan McVey and Seamus McGrath were both on the winning team last season and will be hoping for a repeat performance. They have a good side but I still think that they will finish outside the top three.
Team: Philip Strong (captain), Bill McCandless, Neville Kerr, Colin Kennedy, Kenny Arlow, Michael Robinson, John Convery, Danny O’Boyle, Dermot Dawson, Robert Haire, Graham Shannon, Andrew Hanlon and Neil Parfitt.
Verdict: The omens are good for this team. Danny O’Boyle and Bill McCandless were the two top players from the 2014 winter league and Philip Strong captained the 2013 winning team. They should finish in the top three but I don’t think that they will win.
Team: Gerry Blevins (captain), Malcolm Russell, Peter Hillen , Eamon McAnarney, Gary Hazley, Alan McGowan, Cathal McNiff, Colin McDonald, Norman Doak, Eamon Galloway, Merton McDowell, Ashton Clydesdale, Kyle Buchanan and Brendan Magee.
Verdict: Their captain, Gerry Blevins, has been on the winning team three times in the last four years. He has a very strong team once again and he will fancy his chances. I would agree but I think that he will just come up a little bit short. Gerry will do his best to prove me wrong.
Team: Kieran McGreevey (captain), Kerry McCluskey, Roland Harwood, Jeffrey Brown, Paul McCullough, P.J. Johnston, Declan Dooher, Ronnie Collins, Tony Lunney, Gordon Enderson, Patrick McAleenan, John G. Lennon and Brian Henning.
Verdict: The captain, Kieran McGreevey, was on the winning team last year but I cannot see him repeating that feat this time round. Outsiders have won the league in the past but if team 5 can finish in the top half that would be a major achievement.
Team: Alan Close (captain), Adam Kerr, Gary McCormick, Mark McCullough, Ian Craven, Vaughan Lamont, Tom Nesbitt, Joe Thompson, Colin McKinney, Colin Smylie, Norman Robb, Albert Morrison and Ainsley Murray.
Verdict: Alan Close and Mark McCullough were both on the winning team last year. They were happy then but they will not be so happy at the end of this campaign. To finish as high as fourth would be a good result.
Team: Dougie Stevenson (captain), Tom Mulholland, Philip Mallon, Bobby Geddis, John Crothers, Joe Whiteside, Verdun Bond, Mel Hammill, Darren Barker, Will Dickson, John Hanna, B.J. McAnarney and Aidy McEvoy.
Verdict: This is, in my opinion, the winning team. They have experienced players from top to bottom. Philip Mallon, John Crothers, Verdun Bond and Mel Hamill were all on the 2014 winning team and they could be successful once again. And B.J. McAnarney could very well be the player of the tournament.