Paul Dunne (Greystones) pitching from the rough at the 16th in the quarter final of the AIG sponsored Irish Amateur Close Championship at Connemara Golf Club. Picture by Pat CashmanRecently crowned East of Ireland champion Paul Dunne booked his place in the semi-finals of the AIG sponsored Irish Close Championship after seeing off Kieran Lynch and Simon Bryan in what were two very different encounters at Connemara, writes the GUI.

Having easily disposed of Skibbereen’s Lynch yesterday morning with a five-hole winning margin, Delgany’s Simon Bryan proved to be a much sterner test for the Greystones international in the afternoon’s quarter final.

Despite birdies at four of his opening seven holes, Dunne found himself all-square against a resilient Bryan, but then very quickly found himself in trouble after consecutive bogies at the eighth and ninth.

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Dunne, who is on scholarship at Graeme McDowell’s alma mater – the University of Alabama – enjoyed a rallying start to the back nine which saw him level the match on the twelfth, and a birdie on the penultimate hole was enough for the 20 year old to seal the win.

“I was up against it from the start,” Dunne said, who can follow in the footsteps of Chris Selfridge last year by winning the East and the Close in quick succession. “It was one of those days when I had no idea what score I was or no idea what happened on the previous hole I was just trying to focus on what was ahead.

“He slipped up with his tee shot on 17 and got a bad break in the rough, which cost him a bogey. I had a four footer for birdie if he had saved par. On 18 once I hit the fairway off the tee it was mine to lose.

“I just picked a target and hit it. He didn’t hit a bad drive but it leaked a little right and caught the edge of the rough. So I knew he couldn’t go for it in two. I had a five iron in and I knew if I hit the green it was over.

In the morning session, Co Sligo’s Gary McDermott needed six extra holes to see off the challenge of Royal Dublin’s Jeff Hopkins. McDermott, who won the last hole in regulation to force the match into sudden death, was rewarded with a quarter-final meeting with Greystones’ teenager David Byrne.

But having been two-up with two holes left to play, McDermott lost the last two holes to birdies and more extra holes ensued. McDermott ran out of steam on his 46th hole of the day, and Byrne progressed.

Jonathan Yates from Naas accounted for Portmarnock’s Geoff Lenehan in their quarter final match. Yates raced into a five-hole lead after seven holes and that cushion was enough to see him through.

* At the Connacht Seniors in Belmullet, Bangor’s Garth McGimpsey set a new course record and holds a nine shot lead over his nearest rival. He took just 64 shots in an eight-under-par first round.

Irish Amateur Close Championship, Connemara Golf Club (Sponsored by AIG)

Wednesday 12 June

Semi Finals

0900 C Sharvin v D Byrne;

0915 J Yates v P Dunne

Tuesday 11 June

Quarter Finals

C Sharvin bt R McKinstry 3/2;

D Byrne bt G McDermott 22nd;

J Yates bt G Lenehan 3/2;

P Dunne bt S Bryan 1 hole

Third Round

R McKinstry (Cairndhu) bt P Murray (Limerick) 1 hole;

C Sharvin (Ardglass) bt E McCormack (Galway) 1 hole;

G McDermott (Co Sligo) bt J Hopkins (Royal Dublin) 24th;

D Byrne (Greystones) bt K Egan (Carton House) 3/2;

J Yates (Naas) bt S Loftus (Lahinch) 2 holes;

G Lenehan (Portmarnock) bt S Healy (Claremorris) 4/3;

P Dunne (Greystones) by K Lynch (Skibbereen/NUIM) 5/4;

S Bryan (Delgany) bt J Sugrue (Mallow) 19th.