Fennelly calls for strong Irish support in Lahinch for Palmer Cup

Ronan MacNamara
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Ronan MacNamara

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Team International Head Coach Barry Fennelly is hoping the fairways of Lahinch Golf Club will be packed with Irish fans when the Arnold Palmer Cup begins next year.

Fennelly will co-coach the team alongside Australia’s Rhyll Brinsmead while Wake Forest based Irishman Aaron O’Callaghan has been named as one of the assistant coaches for the contest against the USA and the Paddy Harrington Golf Scholarship manager is relishing the prospect of captaining the International side on home soil.

“Really looking forward to Lahinch and teaming up with Aaron, playing South of Ireland’s together from a young age and never thought we would be back to Lahinch doing this kind of role but really excited to give it a go and win the cup back,” explained Fennelly who is in his 13th year as head coach of both the men’s and women’s programmes in Maynooth University.

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“We have a great team of coaches with the women and a lot of experience and we are looking forward to getting down to business and selecting the right team and we are going to be up against a quality side in the US.”

The Arnold Palmer Cup features the best college golfers in the world and some Palmer Cup alumni include Llilia Vu, Brian Harman, Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, and Patty Tavatanakit.

“It will be a massive spectacle and hopefully the Irish people come out and support the event, it’s going to be the best college players in the world and I am hopeful that people who love amateur golf back home will come out and get up close and see the future stars of the game on our doorstep.

“The club will do an amazing job but Covid got in the way of 2020 so they will do an amazing job of hosting the tournament.”

Under Fennelly’s stewardship the Kildare based university has produced seven Arnold Palmer Cup participants, two Walker Cup players, one Curtis Cup player, and numerous Irish men and women Internationals while Maynooth has represented at 9 of the last 11 Palmer Cup matches.

In 2012, Fennelly led Ireland’s men’s team to a bronze medal at the World University Golf Championship. Fennelly served as an assistant coach for Team International’s 2022 Palmer Cup victory at Golf Club de Genève. A member of the Palmer Cup men’s selection committee in 2016 & 2017, Fennelly has been serving on the international women’s selection committee for the past five years.

“I’m so grateful for the seven Maynooth players that we have had representing Maynooth with distinction at the event and have gone on to have success at top amateur level and the pro ranks.

“Their success and how they have carried themselves and represented the university has really given me this opportunity so I am truly indebted to those guys for what they have done for the programme and it has given me this opportunity.”

Douglas native O’Callaghan is in his seventh season as the Demon Deacons’ associate head coach, coming to Wake Forest in July 2018 after four seasons at Louisville.

At Louisville, O’Callaghan helped the Cardinals to four team victories, three NCAA Regional appearances, and a 14th-place finish at the 2016 NCAA Championship. Among the players he coached at UL was two-time ACC Champion and 2016 Palmer Cup alumnus Robin Sciot-Siegrist.

As a player, O’Callaghan was an elite junior player in Ireland. He won the 2004 Irish Boys U18 Championship, was the recipient of the 2003-04 Jacques Leglise Trophy and 2005 Ireland Junior Sports Star of the Year. He represented Ireland in European and international competitions between 2001-07, including on the Great Britain and Ireland boys team.

O’Callaghan played collegiate golf at Southeastern Louisiana from 2005-09, winning twice and earning first-team All-Southland Conference accolades in 2007.

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