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Tom McKibbin makes a big leap to Irish Under 18 panel


By Paul Kelly

Holywood's rising star Tom McKibbin has earned a call-up into the Irish Under-18 panel.

The 14-year-old, winner of this year's Ulster and Munster U16 titles, has been promoted from the U16 panel along with Odhran Maguire (Slieve Russell), Aaron Marshall (Lisburn) and Luke O'Neill (Connemara).

In total, 23 players representing 22 different clubs have been selected for the 2018 Irish panels.

Two-time Irish Boys Champion Mark Power leads the 12-strong U18 panel, with four players retained from this year.

In addition to Power, John Brady (Rosslare), Jack Doherty (Carton House) and Edward Walsh (Mallow) remain with the U18s.

McKibbin, Maguire, Marshall and O'Neill have been joined by Charlie Denvir (Elm Park) and Athenry duo Allan Hill and David Kitt, beaten finalist at this year's AIG Irish Close.

Ireland begin the 2018 season at the Cardigan Cup in Wales in March. The European Boys Team Championship (July 10-14, Czech Republic) and the Boys Home Internationals (August 7-9, Royal Dornoch) will be the major targets.

On the U16 panel, Josh Black (Hilton Templepatrick) and Keaton Morrison (Greenacres) are the two returning players from this year's panel.

Both panels will benefit from coaching weekends at the GUI National Golf Academy in Carton House, led by GUI National Coach Neil Manchip.

The U18 panel have two sessions, October 7-8 and November 11-12. The U16s will also meet twice before the end of the year, October 21-22 and December 2-3. There will be further coaching weekends early next year.

"The coaching weekends are really important for new players," explains outgoing Ireland Boys Captain Cathal McConn.

"It helps them to mature and develop a strong team spirit. It makes them better competitors."

Ireland U18 Panel 2018: John Brady (Rosslare), Charlie Denvir (Elm Park), Jack Doherty (Carton House), Allan Hill, David Kitt (both Athenry), Tom McKibbin (Holywood), Odhran Maguire (Slieve Russell), Aaron Marshall (Lisburn), Eoin Murphy (Dundalk), Luke O'Neill (Connemara), Mark Power (Kilkenny), Edward Walsh (Mallow)

Ireland U16 Panel 2018: Josh Black (Hilton Templepatrick), Joseph Byrne (Baltinglass), Mel Deasy (Bantry), Michael Fitzgibbon (Howth), Thomas Higgins (Roscommon), Joshua Hill (Galgorm Castle), Ewan McArthur (Massereene), Joshua McCabe (Roganstown), Eoin McGrath (Athlone), Keaton Morrison (Greenacres), Edward Rowe (Tandragee)

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