By Brian Keogh
Richard Kilpatrick opened with a two under par 70 to lie just one stroke off the pace in the East of Ireland Amateur Championship at Baltray.
Runner-up in the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin and a top ten finisher at the Brabazon Trophy last month, the Banbridge man is lurking just behind Limerick's Pat Murray and Mallow's David Finn after the first round.
Fresh from making the cut in the Irish Open at Adare Manor two weeks ago, Tipperary man Murray is seeking his first major amateur title.
But he will be aware of the host of big names near the top of the leaderboard with Kilpatrick and Walker Cup panellist Simon Ward just a stroke behind after rounds of 70.
Scrabo's Andrew McCormick is just two off the pace in a share of fifth place alongside Galway's Eddie McCormack, Offaly youngster Shane Lowry and Knock's Nicky Grant after firing two eagles in a 71.
Clandeboye's Jonathan Caldwell, the other Walker Cup panellist in action, had to settle for a one over par 73 on a day when only eight players in the 156-strong field broke par.
The leading 50 players after Sunday's second round will qualify for the final 36 holes on Monday.
East of Ireland Amateur c'ship, Co Louth (par 72, CSS 75, SSS 74)
69 P Murray (Limerick), D Finn (Mallow)
70 R Kilpatrick (Banbridge), S Ward (Co Louth)
71 A McCormick (Scrabo), S Lowry (Esker Hills), E McCormack (Galway), N Grant (Knock)
72 N O'Connor (Elm Park), S Crowe (Dunmurry)
73 D Lernihan (Castle), G Carew (Edenderry), A Glynn (Porters Park), J Caldwell (Clandeboye), C Martin (Kilkenny)
74 N Kearney (Royal Dublin), D O'Donovan (Muskerry), G Lawlor (Citywest), G Hamill (Ardglass), D Sutton (Lockerbie), A Pitcher (The Island)
75 P McGrath (Dromoland), B Walton (Island/UCD), D Rawluk (The Island), M Brett (Portmarnock), R Branigan (Co Louth), D McInerney (Lahinch), J Toner (Woodbrook), E O'Sullivan (The Island), C Curley (Newlands), A McCloy (Ballymena), J McGinn (L & B), J Waldron (Muskerry), G Reid (Spa), D Coyne (Tuam)
76 G Bohill (Co Louth), N Gorey (Lee Valley), J Lyons (Galway), R Boal (Scrabo), C Doran (Banbridge), A Dunbar (Rathmore), S Grant (Birr), R Cannon (Laytown & Bettystown), A O'Callaghan (Douglas), D Beattie (Whitehead), R Forsythe (Ballyclare), R McCarthy (The Island), G Nugent (Kilkenny), N O'Briain (Royal Dublin), C Drumm (Rosslare), M Sinclair (The Knock), M Shanahan (West Waterford)
77 G O'Flaherty (Cork), N Goulding (Portmarnock), G Dunne (Seapoint), D Joyce (Curragh), S Shaw (Lisburn), M McGinley (Grange), B Hobson (Shandon Park), R McNamara (Headfort), T O'Mahony (Mallow), R Leonard (Banbridge), G McGrane (Royal Dublin), K Bornemann (Douglas), T Cleary (Cork), C O'Malley (Westport), P O'Hanlon (Curragh), T Kelly (Balcarrick), G McDermott (Co. Sligo), C McLaughlin (Royal Jersey), M Lavelle (K Club), J Carvill (Warrenpoint), T O'Neill (Rathsallagh)
78 C Hughes (Royal Portrush), M O'Rourke (Royal Tara), M Windebank (Royal Portrush), D McNamara (Connemara), S O'Flaherty (Hermitage), D McNeill (Ballybofey), D Vaughan (Ardglass), D Downie (Sutton), D Morgan (Mullingar), G Kelly (Co Louth), J Mulready (Castle), E Kennedy (Strabane), D O'Brien (L & B), M Rowe (Glasson), E Arthurs (Forrest Little)
79 A Hogan (Newlands/UCD), S Smyth (County Louth), H Diamond (Holywood), P Connolly (Clontarf), D Lewis (Woodbrook), G O'Connor (Malahide), D Leathem (Lisburn), R Dunne (Charlesland/UCD), A McKinley (Shandon Park), E McAnoy (Knock), D Kelleher (Portmarnock), H MacKeown (Portmarnock), P O'Kane (Moyola Park), D Crowe (Dunmurry), D Lally (Tuam)
80 J Gannon (Seapoint), D Ruddy (Thurles), G Mallon (North-West), K Metcalfe (Mullingar), P O'Keeffe (Douglas), K McCarthy (Kinsale), D Coyle (Co Louth), A Dooley (NUIG/Glasson), S Loftus (Ennis), F Rafferty (Dungannon), J Moore (Laytown & Bettystown), S Dwyer (Newlands), B O'Connor (Hermitage), N Boyd (Donaghadee)
81 C Finn (Douglas), K Stack (Dungarvan/UCC), J Somers (Laytown & Bettystown), J Monaghan (The Island), W McCully (Donaghadee), J Fox (Portmarnock), M Buggy (Castlecomer), R Behan (St Anne's)
82 A McAuley (Ardee), M Poucher (Limerick), J Foran (Thurles), R Durnin (Laytown & Bettystown), V Smyth (Co Louth), A Dowling (Hermitage), A Daly (Delgany), T Conran (Portadown), K Canty (Douglas), K Crowley (Lee Valley), T O'Flynn (Fota Island), R Weldon (Luttrellstown), J Hughes (Douglas)
83 G McAuley (Dunmurry), D Cantrell (Woodbrook), M Hammond (Moyola Park), R O'Connor (The Island)
84 B Campbell (Malone), B Ronan (Co Louth)
85 N Beirth (Co Louth), G Dillon (Heath), G Donaghy (Island Country Club, Fla.)
86 M Reck (Lucan), A Boyle (Hollystown), R Branigan (Royal Tara), S Bell (Denver Country Club)
87 L Butler (West Waterford)
88 C Barron (Rosslare)
89 R Symington (Lisburn)
91 J Campbell (County Louth)
NR D Callaghan (Balbriggan)