Dara Lernihan will be hoping to end a summer of mixed emotions on a high note after surging into a commanding four-stroke lead entering the final 36 holes of the Mullingar Grant Thornton Scratch Trophy (see full field scorecards below).

The 23-year old Dubliner, an impressive winner of the Irish Close title at Royal Dublin in June, was in unbeatable form over the first two rounds at the testing Co. Westmeath lay-out.

Surprisingly ommitted from the three-man Ireland team for October’s Eisenhower Trophy trip to Argentina, the talented Castle player followed a two-under par 70 with a superb 69 to lead by four shots on five-under par from Athlone’s Kelan McDonagh and by six from Lee Valley’s Sean Barry. 

Lernihan fired five birdies in two-under par 70 in Saturday morning’s first round to lead by a stroke from Knock’s Nicky Grant and defending champion Connor Doran.

They were the only players in the field to break par over the opening 18 holes with Barry, Cian Curley and Greenore’s Ian Brennan the only others to shoot level par 72s.

Lernihan didn’t let up in the afternoon as he posted another five birdies - at the third, sixth, ninth, 12th and 18th - with his only errors coming at the testing second and 10th holes.

As Grant crashed out of contention following a forgettable 80 and Doran took 76 to slip eight shot off the pace, South of Ireland runner-up McDonagh added a 70 to his opening 73 to emerge as Lernihan’s nearest rival with two rounds to play.

The cut fell at 12 over par 156.

Lee Valley man Barry is just six strokes adrift on one-over after solids rounds of 73 and 72 with Newlands’ Andy Hogan seven shots off the pace after following a 74 with a 72.

If Lernihan produces anything resembling his stellar play over the first two rounds, McDonagh and Co have their work cut out.

Six players are eight strokes adrift on two-over par and they include title holder Doran and fellow Ulsterman Reeve Whitson, who bounced back from a 78 with a second round 69 that was only matched by the leader.

Like Lernihan, Whitson bogeyed the second and 10th but he birdied the fourth, eighth, 12th, 16th and 18th to join Matthew McAlpin, Brian Casey, Rory McNamara, Brennan and Doran on three over.

Mullingar Grant Thornton Scratch Trophy

 

Rd 1 scorecards (full field)

 

Rd 2 scorecards (full field)

Scores and tee times

After 36 Holes

139 Dara Lernihan (Castle) 70 69

143 Kelan McDonagh (Athlone) 73 70

145 Sean Barry (Lee Valley) 72 73

146 Andrew Hogan (Newlands) 74 72

147 Reeve Whitson (Mourne) 78 69, Matthew McAlpin (Royal Portrush) 75 72, Brian Casey (Headfort) 75 72, Rory McNamara (Headfort) 74 73, Ian Brennan (Greenore) 72 75, Connor Doran (Banbridge) 71 76

148 C Glynn (Carton House) 78 70, R Bridges (Stackstown) 75 73

149 J Monaghan (The Island) 77 72, C Martin (Kilkenny) 77 72, J Fanagan (Milltown) 75 74, M Durcan (Co Sligo) 74 75, D Morgan (Mullingar) 74 75

150 R Walsh (Kilkenny) 79 71, A Dunbar (Rathmore) 78 72, A Kearney (Castlerock) 77 73, E Stack (Ballybunion) 76 74, B Walton (The Island) 76 74, B Anderson (Co Sligo) 76 74, B McSweeney (Woodbrook) 74 76, D Beattie (Castlerock) 74 76

151 M Shanahan (West Waterford) 77 74, J Lyons (Galway) 76 75, G Lenehan (Portmarnock) 75 76, P O’Leary (Lucan) 75 76, J Greene (Carlow) 75 76, D Coughlan (The Royal Dublin) 75 76, C Curley (Newlands) 72 79, N Grant (Knock) 71 80

152 S Ryan (The Royal Dublin) 77 75, J O’Rourke (Mullingar) 77 75

154 W Hanna (Kilkeel) 79 75, A Lowry (Esker Hills) 79 75, R Leonard (Banbridge) 78 76, M Reck (Lucan) 78

76, A Grant (Killinbeg) 78 76, S Grehan (Tullamore) 77 77, S O’Connor (Skerries) 76 78, T O’Connor (Athlone) 73 81

155 E Smith (Ardee) 81 74, G Shaw (Mullingar) 80 75, G McGrane (The Royal Dublin) 78 77, I O’Rourke (Cork) 76 79, S McGlynn (South County) 75 80

156 S Bryan (Delgany) 81 75, T McGowan (Strandhill) 81 75, M Collins (Mahon) 77 79, P Burke (Mullingar) 74 82

Non-qualifiers

157 D Reilly (Westmanstown) 83 74, R McCarthy (The Island) 79 78, G Bohill (Co Louth) 78 79, M Brett (Portmarnock) 78 79, G Dillon (The Heath) 78 79

158 J Fox (Portmarnock) 81 77, C Cunningham (Carton House) 79 79, E O’Sullivan (The Island) 79 79, R Knightly (The Royal Dublin) 78 80

159 J Ward (Banbridge) 82 77, D Reidy (Co Sligo) 80 79

160 E Arthurs (Forrest Little) 87 73, J Connolly (Massereene) 82 78, S Brady (Co Sligo) 77 83

161 R Burke (Castle) 82 79

162 C Daly (Castletroy) 84 78, M Kelly (Mullingar) 83 79

164 T O’Regan (Carton House) 78 86

165 S Doherty (Malone) 80 85

167 C Geraghty (Carton House) 88 79

NR M Buggy (Castlecomer), J Pierce (Grange)

RTD D Lally (Mullingar) 76 RTD, D Kernohan (Galgorm Castle), D Downie (Sutton), J Hopkins (Skerries)

WTD J Carvill (Warrenpoint) 76 WD, D Ruddy (Thurles) 85 WD, G Kelly (Co Louth) 81 WD

CSS -  Rd 1: 74. Rd 2: 73

Draw for rounds 3 & 4:

1 6.40 & 11.40 Paul Burke (Mullingar) Mark Collins (Mahon)
2 6.48 & 11.48 Tommy McGowan (Strandhill) Simon Bryan (Delgany)
3 6.56 & 11.56 Shane McGlynn (South County) Ian O’Rourke (Cork) Gary McGrane (Royal Dublin)
4 7.04 & 12.04 Gary Shaw (Mullingar) Eugene Smith (Ardee) Thomas O’Connor (Athlone)
5 7.12 & 12.12 Shaun O’Connor (Skerries) Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) Aaron Grant (Killinbeg)
6 7.20 & 12.20 Mark Reck (Lucan) Rory Leonard (Banbridge) Alan Lowry (Esker Hills)
7 7.28 & 12.28 William Hanna (Kilkeel) James O’Rourke (Mullingar) Sean Ryan (The Royal Dublin)
8 7.36 & 12.36 Nicky Grant (Knock) Cian Curley (Newlands)  Darragh Coughlan (Ryl Dublin)
9 7.44 & 12.44 John Greene (Carlow) Pio O’Leary (Lucan) Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock)
10 7.52 & 12.52 Joe Lyons (Galway) Mark Shanahan (W Waterford)  Daniel Beattie (Castlerock)
11 8.00 & 1.00 Brian McSweeney (W’brook) Barry Anderson (Co Sligo) Brendan Walton (The Island)
12 8.08 & 1.08 Edward Stack (Ballybunion) Aaron Kearney (Castlerock) Alan Dunbar (Rathmore)
13 8.16 & 1.16 Richard Walsh (Kilkenny) Des Morgan (Mullingar)  Michael Durcan (Co Sligo)
14 8.24 & 1.24 Jody Fanagan (Milltown) Craig Martin (Kilkenny) James Monaghan (The Island)
15 8.32 & 1.32 Richard Bridges (Stackstown) Conor Glynn (Carton House) Connor Doran (Banbridge)
16 8.40 & 1.40 Ian Brennan (Greenore)  Rory McNamara (Headfort) Brian Casey (Headfort)
17 8.48 & 1.48 Matthew McAlpin (Ryl P’rush) Reeve Whitson (Mourne)  Andrew Hogan (Newlands)
18 8.56 & 1.56 Sean Barry (Lee Valley) Kelan McDonagh (Athlone) Dara Lernihan (Castle)