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Eamon Darcy hopeful over Ryder Cup 2006

Colin Montgomerie’s hopes of becoming the European team captain at the 2006 Ryder Cup were dealt a blow yesterday when Eamonn Darcy threw his hat into the ring.

Without making reference to Montgomerie, who last year expressed a desire to lead Europe during an interview with The Scotsman, Darcy said that the 2006 match, which will be held at the K Club in Dublin, should have an Irish captain.

Darcy announced his candidature when he bowed out of the European tour after a career of 31 years yesterday. The Irishman will be 50 next month and is turning his attentions to the Seniors circuit either in Europe or, if possible, in America. But instead of looking back on a successful career, Darcy looked ahead four years, to his burning ambition to lead Europe.

"I’d love to do it," said Darcy, one of the heroes of Europe’s 1987 victory at Muirfield Village, after a final-round 69 in the Smurfit European Open on the same course.

"And I certainly think it should be an Irish captain. It’s a way of saying ‘Thank you’ for the contribution made since the war. It would be a big blow if no Irish captain is chosen."

Ken Schofield, the executive director of the European Tour, and Sandy Jones, the chief executive of the PGA, have already said that hosting the event should not give a country the right to provide the European captain as well. Besides Montgomerie, the likes of Bernhard Langer, Jose Maria Olazabal, Ian Woosnam, and Nick Faldo all have strong claims - arguably far stronger than Darcy - to lead the team.

Darcy and Des Smyth would be the front-runners among the Irish candidates, although Darcy admits that the biggest problem would be staying in touch with all the potential team members during the qualifying period. He intends to go to the US Seniors Tour qualifying school later this year and is waiting to hear if a few invitations come his way first.

Darcy has played in 610 Order of Merit events since his debut in 1971, but says the highlights were his Ryder Cup appearances and partnering Smyth and Ronan Rafferty to Alfred Dunhill Cup victory at St Andrews.

"We play for the money, but at the end of the day a team event is sweeter," he said.

The County Wicklow-born golfer added: "Golf’s changed a lot since I was in my heyday, when it all seemed so easy then - we had a few jars [pints of beer] and still shot 68.

"Now we have a conscience and think we shouldn’t have done that, but when you’re younger you don’t give a hoot and just go out and play.

"Irish golf’s in good hands with Padraig [Harrington] and Darren [Clarke] and now I have goals on the seniors.

"I want to win again. Everybody is saying the way I’m playing, I should win and I agree with them, but it’s a long while since I won so I have to be careful I’m not too hard on myself.

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