It speaks volumes for the determination of the Great Britain and Ireland team to break the eight-year monopoly of the Vagliano Trophy by the Continent of Europe that the world's No 1 female amateur golfer, Leona Maguire, did not play in the Irish closed championship last weekend so that she could conserve her energy for the two-day match at Malone Golf Club, Belfast on Friday and Saturday, June 26 and 27.
This is the 29th of the biennial matches since the present format was instituted in 1959 and, despite the Continentals' recent run of success, GB and I still have a clear lead overall with 16 wins against 11 losses, with one match drawn.
Back in the days when GB and I won more than they lost, the current team captain Elaine Farquharson-Black (Deeside) and team manager Helen (Dobson) Hewlett played in winning Vagliano Trophy teams, Elaine in 1989 and 1991 and Helen in 1989, the year she beat Elaine in the final of the Ladies' British open amateur championship.
GB and I's team includes the top two in the European Golf Association rankings - Leona Maguire and Bronte Law, both students at US colleges and winners against most of the Continental players in the course of the 2014-15 American women's college golf circuit. France's Celine Boutier, a team-mate of Maguire's at Duke University, North Carolina, beat another member of the Continental line-up, Linnea Strom (Sweden) in the recent final of the Ladies' British open amateur championship at Portstewart.
There are 24 points at stake over the four sessions of play - four foursomes and eight singles each day. Whichever team wins, it promises to be a feast of excellent golf from the best 18 female amateur golfers in Europe.
The Ladies Golf Union is hoping that thousands of golf enthusiastts in the Belfast area and beyond will take advantage of the free car parking and admission to provide huge galleries to which players of this calibre respond and play their best. The Junior Vagliano Trophy match for 16-year-olds and under makes it an attractive double-header for spectators. These are the GB and Ireland's and the Continent of Europe's stars of the future.
Everyone of the six players in each side will play in all four sessions - three foursomes and six singles daily. This is only the third fixture in the Junior Vagliano Trophy series which was inaugurated in 2011. The Continent of Europe lead 3-0 but GB and I team captain Claire Coughlan-Ryan is confident that her squad can put a first victory on the board.
GREAT BRITAIN & IRELAND
Gemma Clews (Delamere Forest, Cheshire) 20, Hayley Davis (Fernown, Dorset) 22, Alice Hewson (Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire) 17, Bronte Law (Bramhall, Cheshire) 20, Meghan MacLaren (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire) 21, Leona Maguire (Slieve Russell, Ireland) 20, Olivia Mehaffey (Royal Co Down Ladies, Northern Ireland) 17, Charlotte Thomas (Singapore) 22, Chloe Williams (Wrexham, Wales) 20.
Team captain - Elaine Farquharson-Black (Deeside, Aberdeenshire) Team manager - Helen Hewlett (Sleaford, Lincolnshire)
CONTINENT OF EUROPE
Celine Boutier (France), Olivia Cowan (Germany), Justine Dreher (France), Nuria Iturrios (Spain), Naomi Jimenez Martin (Spain), Madelene Sagstrom (Sweden), Luna Sobron (Spain), Linnea Strom (Sweden), Albane Valenzuela (Switzerland).
Team Captain - Anna Roscio (Italy).
JUNIOR VAGLIANO TROPHY:
GREAT BRITAIN & IRELANDHazel Macgarvie (Ladies' Club Troon, Ayrshire), Shannon McWilliam (Aboyne, Aberdeenshire), Mairead Martin (Killarney, Ireland), Hollie Muse (West Lancashire), Emily Price (Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire), Annabel Wilson (Lurgan, Ireland).
Team Captain - Claire Coughlan-Ryan (Ireland)Team Manager - Helen Hewlett (England).
CONTINENT OF EUROPE
Mathilde Claisse (France), Julia Engstrom (Sweden), Isabella Holpfer (Austria), Frida Kinhult (Sweden), Agathe Laisne (France), Emma Spitz (Austria).
Team captain - Thea Hoffmeister (Germany).