Carton House set to host Irish Open

The Irish Open looks set to be played on the Montgomerie Course at Carton House next year - delaying its return to a links venue.

Conor Mallaghan, the executive director of the 36-hole Maynooth complex, confirmed on Friday: "We are talking to the European Tour but there is nothing agreed and I wouldn’t expect there to be an announcement tomorrow. We are interested. We hosted the event in 2005 and 2006 and we would be well positioned to do it.”

Sports Minister Martin Cullen portrayed himself as the “saviour” of the event, which has been without a title sponsor since Nissan ended its deal with the European Tour in 2006, when he announced that he had helped secure a three-year sponsorship deal with 3 Mobile worth €3m.

With Failte Ireland believed to be investing €1m in the estimated €5m cost of staging the event, Cullen revealed that Mount Juliet would host the championship from May 14-17 next year.

He also expressed the hope that it would eventually move to a links venue as part of the government’s tourism strategy.

However, the Kilkenny venue had never agreed to do so and officially turned down the offer just four days after Cullen’s initial revelations.

There has been speculation that Royal Dublin or Portmarnock could step into the breach.

But Portmarnock is generally considered to be too politically sensitive as a potential venue as the all-male club is currently embroiled in a high profile Supreme Court case on equality.

And while European Tour officials were spotted at Royal Dublin this week (another all-male venue) the news that Carton House is now in the frame would indicate that the tour is considering other options.

Time is now running out to find a top class venue to match the five-star sponsor and an official announcement would appear to be highly unlikely before Christmas.