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Golden Gloves Men's A preview: A division impossible to call

Could the Men’s A grade be the most competitive of all in this weekend’s St Paul’s Golden Gloves?

The field is headed by experienced Wicklow speedster Jerome Willoughby who, playing out of the famous Coolboy club, has many titles to his name . Number two seed is Limerick’s Shane Murphy, who has enjoyed tremendous success in doubles with brother Evan, who is himself seeded third, in both 40x20 and 60x30.

The Murphy boys have been in brilliant form and certainly know how to win big titles and could be on a collision course to meet in the semis but this division is a real pick ‘em affair, with quality players in every section of the draw.

For example, Monaghan’s lefty rollout man James Gavaghan, a spectacular killer of the ball, takes on Eoin Brennan, who in his early 20s is already the holder of national titles in softball, hardball, wallball and 40x20 while Tyrone’s Cahir Munroe, a skilful right-hander, meets the superbly-conditioned and competitive Belfast man Mark Rainey.

Number four seed is Cork youngster Gearoid Healy, a talented player with deft straight-arm left-handed kills and a terrific right, but he will get nothing easy against former B Singles winner Conor ‘Gooch’ O’Gorman, a retriever and fierce competitor with an excellent front-court game who has taken plenty of big scalps.

Also in the mix are Clare’s Ciaran Malone, a smooth shot-maker with fantastic speed around the court, and Martin Mullins from the Tinryland club in Carlow who has been showing good form in the Coolboy Winter League.

Liscarroll clubman Colin Healy, former winner of the U17 grade in this tournament, is seeded ninth and will battle with Saval’s Sean Digney, a powerful right-hander with a great serve who has been in the mix with the best juniors in the country for a few years now and is also part of the organising committee.

There will undoubtedly be a few shocks – with so much quality on show, the early rounds will be a minefield – and the margins are likely to be very fine. Only a brave pundit would call this one – and we’re not that!

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