Professional and amateur golfers are teeing up for the Walled City of Derry & Strabane Pro Am Tournament, which will take place on August 24 and 25.

As one of the largest events in this year’s PGA calendar, and now in its third year, the tournament hosts 52 teams and a total of 208 golfers.

Top Irish PGA Professionals from all over Ireland will be competing for the title and a guaranteed prize pot of 15,000 euros.

Sponsored by Bishop’s Gate Hotel and Frylite and supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the tournament has attracted Ireland’s top professionals, including Irish PGA Order of Merit Winner Simon Thornton and defending Champion Michael McGeady.

Strabane Golf Club will be a location in this year’s tournament, ensuring it is a truly North West event.

Ciaran O’Neill of Bishop’s Gate Hotel said: “This tournament promotes the extremely strong offering that the North West region provides in terms of golf tourism.

It brings together a broad range of golfers and golf enthusiasts and it is a top attraction in this summer’s sporting calendar. We’re thrilled to be involved and we’re looking forward to showcasing what the North West has to offer.”

For further information, please contact City of Derry Golf Club on 028 7131 1496.

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The world’s top golfers are preparing for The 148th Open, which returns to Northern Ireland after 68 years.

Sports fans from around the globe are set to descend upon Royal Portrush in July to watch the greatest players compete for the iconic Claret Jug in golf’s oldest championship.

The event, which runs from July 14 to 21, is returning to the region after 68 years, making it only the second time The Open has been staged outside of Scotland and England.

The best players in the world will take on the Dunluce Links, a tough test of golf. Originally designed by Harry Colt, the course is routed through the rugged links land and constantly changes in both direction and elevation.

The Open was last staged at Royal Portrush in 1951, when Max Faulkner was crowned champion.

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The last few seasons at Derry City Football Club have been far from vintage, but there is a growing feeling around the recently renamed and refurbished Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium that the club is back moving in the right direction.

Last season’s 8th place finish in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table and the subsequent departure of Manager Kenny Shiels left the Candy Stripes at their lowest ebb since 2009, when they went into financial administration and were relegated to the First Division.

Devine returns

With the vast majority of the 2018 playing staff out of contract and a limited budget, Declan Devine returned to the club for a second spell in the hot seat and took on the unenviable task of rebuilding the squad virtually from scratch.

Despite some shrewd signings, the majority of the 2019 first team playing panel are players elevated from the club’s youth set-up and the expectation of most supporters when the League of Ireland season kicked off in February was that the club would be doing well to avoid relegation.

While the results from their opening six games have been mixed with two wins, two draws and two losses, there is a confidence and excitement around the club again that has been sorely missing in recent seasons.

New formation

The team look to have their swagger back with Devine deploying a 4-2-3-1 formation that encourages his midfield players to push forward and be creative, perhaps most notably in their 3-0 opening night win over UCD at the Brandywell.

Their two defeats to date have come against Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers, the top two sides in the league whose spending power has lured local talent such as Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy and Aaron McEneff away from the Brandywell.

Perhaps most crucially, they have conceded just seven goals in their seven games played to date, which compares particularly favourably with the 70 they let in in 36 league games last season.

Refurbished stadium

Despite the significantly improved match day experience at the newly refurbished stadium, attendances last season were at an all-time low, but there has been a marked increase in the crowds and fans appear to be buying into what the new manager is trying to achieve.

There will surely be highs and lows this season, but with a marked increase in the number of local players in a first team squad who are playing attractive football for a management team made up of former players, Derry City seem to have rediscovered their identity and the feel-good factor has returned to the Brandywell.

Northern Ireland’s biggest and best Jazz Festival returns this May Bank Holiday weekend, with a headliner performance from Tainted Love singer Marc Almond.

More than 70,000 revellers are expected to descend on the city for the annual celebration, which is now in its 18th year.

Jazz and big band artists from all over the world will perform at the event, which runs from May 2 to 6, including Kitty LaRoar, Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, Jumpin Up!, Jive Aces and Kaz Hawkins.

Former Soft Cell frontman Marc Almond will perform in the Millennium Forum on May 3, while visitors can also avail of Jazz Master Classes with respected musicians and Jazz Hubs at the Playhouse, Bennigans and the Great Hall at Magee.

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Derry’s city centre was a blaze of colour as the city’s biggest ever St Patrick’s Day Parade filled Shipquay Street with a vibrant display celebrating youth and culture.

More than 10,000 people lined the streets despite the windy conditions, as over 700 performers from community, arts and sporting groups brought the magical story of Tír na nÓg to life.

A visit from high-level UK diplomats has helped identify opportunities for the city and district’s interests to be represented abroad.

The newly-appointed Heads of Mission from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travelled to Derry-Londonderry in February as part of a two-day trip to gain a wider understanding of the political structures, strengths and unique offering of Northern Ireland.

During the visit, the delegation (who represent the UK government in the country to which they are assigned) met with representatives from Invest NI before travelling to Seagate Technology and the Ulster University. The group had a walking tour of the city’s walls before a food and drink tasting event at the Bishop’s Gate Hotel, and an evening reception hosted by Mayor John Boyle.

The group also met with senior council officers for an overview of the council’s Strategic Inclusive Growth Plan, and the work being done to secure national growth in the city region.

Speaking after the visit, the Mayor extended his thanks to the delegation, saying it was hugely significant in forging links with the FCO and in sharing information that will help the city and region achieve its ambitions.

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Dancing dragons, Chinese cuisine and traditional music helped welcome the Chinese Consul General to Derry-Londonderry and celebrate the developing relationship between Northern Ireland and China.

The newly appointed Consul General Zhang Meifang visited the city for its Chinese New Year celebrations in February and was greeted by Mayor John Boyle, who was part of a delegation visit to Dalian City in China in October.

The Mayor said: “As a region we have many shared interests with China, particularly in terms of tourism, business, technology and education, which has resulted in a Friendly Co-operative City Agreement which Council signed last year to formally acknowledge this strong working relationship.

“Links with the East are hugely important in assisting us to expand our business, tourism and education connections, in tandem with the ongoing work to develop partnerships in the US.”

Head of Business with Derry and Strabane District Council, Kevin O’Connor, added: “It was also an opportunity for us to discuss the ongoing collaborations with Dalian City, which we expect to yield new opportunities for trade and investment as well as developing global business and education connections.”

The Sai Pak Chinese Community Association helped organise events around the celebration.

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Three local women who use video games to explore social issues including LGBT rights and racism have been named in a prestigious list of 50 New Radicals.

Derry-Londonderry-based company Kippie C.I.C. was founded by Katherine Rowlandson, Caroline Anderson and Justine Scoltock in 2016.

Katherine explained: ” While many people perceive video gaming as being negative or a waste of time, a few years ago my sister Caroline, my friend Justine and I started thinking about the possibilities of harnessing the positive storytelling power of gaming.

“We thought about how game design and the logical step-by-step nature of games – where specific actions have specific consequences – could be used as a tool to help people explore issues and events in their lives.”

The trio have now been named in the UK-wide list of 50 New Radicals compiled by the innovation foundation NESTA and The Observer, recognising individuals and organisations tackling societal issues in creative ways.

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A young print technician crowned Apprentice of the Year at the 2018 Irish Print Awards has urged women to apply for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) apprenticeship roles.

Lauren Harkin, who joined Derry-Londonderry’s Nuprint Technologies as an apprentice two years ago and now works as a pre-press technician, beat 74 of her peers to win the accolade.

“The print industry is developing very fast and becoming increasingly technologically advanced, so the future will require staff with a strong background in STEM subjects,” she said.

“While my male colleagues are great, it would be fantastic for all companies to engage with more women. I’m glad I work for a company which encourages me as a young woman in STEM.”

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A new initiative providing customer service training for young people with disabilities has been announced as a joint winner of this year’s £2k Social Enterprise Competition.

The Playtrail’s Tea in the Park scheme has received £1k towards refitting a traditional horsebox with tea and coffee-making facilities, which will provide customer service training for 15-20 people at its Pennyburn site.

It shared first place with the Strabane Community Project in the contest, run by Derry City & Strabane District Council as part of Enterprise Week 2019.

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