Super cool Niall Kearney broke into the big time with victory in the historic South of Ireland at Lahinch.

The straight-hitting Dubliner, 20, crushed Irish Close champion Paul O'Hanlon 4 and 3 with a controlled display in a sun-splashed final at the Co Clare links.

And he was delighted to break his title duck and fulfill his huge potential after three years at the top of the amateur game.

Beaming at the finish, Kearney said: "It's great. My first senior championship. I have been waiting of for a long time but I played great. There were no excuses today.

"I got off to a poor start in both my matches but I came back well and showed a bit of character. I stayed patient all day and made some putts around the turn in both matches and managed to hold on.

"I've been working hard for the last few years to get my game up to scratch to win a title like this. It is a relief that is has come now."

Kearney came back from two down after seven holes to beat Aaron O'Callaghan of Douglas 3 and 2 in the semi-finals as O'Hanlon did exactly the same to see off surprise package Niall Gorey of Lee Valley.

And he was forced to come from behind again in the final, when he started nervously and three-putted the first to go one down.

The second was halved in birdies before the matched returned to all square at the third, where O'Hanlon called a penalty shot on himself when his ball moved as he addressed it with his putter.

After sharing the par five fourth in birdies, the momentum swung Kearney's way on the sixth and seventh where O'Hanlon twice drove into trouble and lost both holes to par.

Now two up, Kearney was determined to show no signs of weakness and he put his opponent under massive pressure with a series of booming drives and raking iron shots.

At the ninth, the Dubliner rifled a nine iron to 18 feet and drained the putt to go three up at the turn.

And while he handed O'Hanlon the 170 yard 11th by tugging his punched four-iron tee shot left of the green, he reclaimed his three hole lead at the driveable 13th where O'Hanlon drove into trouble, missed the green left and then failed hole a slippery four footer for the half.

The 14th was shared in regulation par fours before Kearney closed out the match with a winning par at the next, where he rifled a 180-yard five iron to 15 feet after O'Hanlon missed the green left.

Delighted to become the first Royal Dublin man to lift the title since Noel Fogarty in 1967, Kearney said: "I didn't play the 18th all week and I only played the 17th once in seven matches.

"I was pretty much in control of all my matches. I was consciously trying to stay patient and not give anything away to my opponent that I was losing a bit of rhythm or anything like that. I kept to myself, walked slowly and played slowly."

Irish Close champion O'Hanlon had the consolation of winning the Golfing Union of Ireland Order of Merit and paid tribute to his Irish team mate afterwards.

He said: "I didn't perform this afternoon but I don't want to take anything away from Niall, who is the best young player in the country bar Rory McIlroy.

"He pretty much won the Europeans Team title for us in Turin when he beat Matthew Haines of England in the final. Now he has a title to his name. He is starting to fulfull his potential and he is a great guy into the bargain."

South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship, Lahinch GC

Paul O'Hanlon (The Curragh) bt Niall Gorey (Lee Valley) 3 and 2.
Niall Kearney (Royal Dublin) bt Aaron O'Callaghan (Douglas) 3 and 2.

Niall Kearney bt Paul O'Hanlon 4 and 3.