Seven of Ireland’s 12 challengers broke par at Stage Two of the European Tour Qualifying School with four of them inside the qualifying places after the opening day.

Simon ThorntonA total of 304 players are competing at four venues in Spain with a total of 74 spots up for grabs in next week's Final Qualifying Stage at PGA Golf Catalunya where the top 30 and ties after six rounds will earn full tour cards.

Simon Thornton (68) and Colm Moriarty (69) are inside the top 18 at Sherry Golf but while Mick McGeady (71) is just two shots outside the magic number, David Higgins (72) and Eddie Barr (74) have more work to do.

The leading 18 players go through at Costa Ballena near Cadiz, where Walker Cup amateur Niall Kearney hit a two under 70 to share 25th.

St Margaret's John Kelly did well to battle his way into a share of 44th with a level par 72.

"I'm very happy because didn't play that great," Kelly told his Twitter followers. "Onwards and upwards."

Gareth Shaw (70) is tied 12th at Arcos Gardens (19 qualify) but while Cian McNamara is tied 52nd after a 74, Michael Collins is refusing to panic after a three over 75 left him well off the pace in a share of 59th.

"The par 3’s are usually where I do well," Collins said. "But today I didn’t make them count and short-sided (myself on) a few greens.

"My iron play wasn’t as strong either so I paid the price on a few approach shots. To be fair, I was just off pace with four birdie chances as the greens took me a while to read."

Collins was five over after 12 holes but battled his way back to two over before a visit to water cost him a bogey at the 18th.

He explained: "The last wasn’t reachable in two and so I tried to squeeze it up the right hand side. But I just came out of the shot and it moved a little too far left ending up in the water. So a bogey was the best I could do really. But it’s too early to panic yet."

There are 19 spots up for grabs at Hacienda del Alamo, where Jonny Caldwell blasted a three under par 69 to share seventh and Mallow's Mervyn Owens  a 71 for a share of 21st.

Sherry Golf (Par 72) Leading 18 qualify

68 Simon Thornton T6

69 Colm Moriarty T13

71 Michael McGeady T29

72 David Higgins T43

74 Eddie Barr T57

Arcos Gardens (Par 72) Leading 19 qualify

70 Gareth Shaw T12

74 Cian McNamara T52

75 Michael Collins T59

Costa Ballena (Par 72) Leading 18 to qualify

70 Niall Kearney (Am) T25

72 John Kelly T44

Hacienda del Alamo (Par 72) Leading 19 qualify

69 Jonathan Caldwell T7

71 Mervyn Owens T21