Conor Niland names strong Ireland team for Davis Cup opener

Irish number one James McGee and number two Sam Barry both selected for Bulgaria

Ireland Davis Cup captain Conor Niland has been able to name his strongest team for the first match of the Davis Cup season.

Irish number one James McGee, who made it to the final round of qualifying at this year's Australian Open, will lead the team with Sam Barry as number two.

They will be joined by Peter Bothwell and doubles specialist David O'Hare for the round robin event which takes place at the Holiday Village Santa Marina in Sozopol, Bulgaria from April 5th-8th.

Niland has not always had the luxury of picking his top players because of their commitment to the professional circuit but hopes to gain promotion this year back up into the Europe/African Zone Group Two


“’I am very pleased to announce a full-strength team,” said Niland. “We look forward with optimism to the matches and we will do our best to earn promotion to Group II.”

It is the first international tournament under the watch of new Tennis Ireland Chief Executive Richard Fahey, who formerly took over from Des Allen last month.

“Our professional players have had a great start to the year with James (McGee) reaching the final round of qualifying at the Australian Open and David (O’Hare) winning a $125,000 Challenger event in Dallas at the beginning of this month,” said Fahy.

“Sam (Barry) and Peter (Bothwell) are also playing some great tennis on the circuit. We are delighted that James McGee is playing and as this is our strongest possible team we want everyone in Irish tennis to get behind them whilst we focus on promotion to Group II for 2018.”

The format is round robin with four pools of four teams and the winners of each pool playing-off against each other to determine which two nations are promoted to Europe/Africa Zone Group II in 2018.

The other teams in the group are Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Iceland, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macdeonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro and San Marino.

Current Irish ranking positions: J McGee (219); S Barry (285); P Bothwell (807); D O'Hare (131 -Doubles)

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times