Pat Murray won’t be worrying about who didn’t turn up if he achieves the dream of a lifetime and lifts the South of Ireland title at Lahinch this week.
Six times a beaten semi-finalist, the 41-year old international from Limerick Golf Club cruised into the third round yesterday with a 5 and 4 demolition of Royal Dublin’s Liam Hutchinson.
Murray was a stalwart for the victorious Munster team in last week’s Interprovincial Matches at Royal County Down, where the Irish selectors chose the 11 men to do battle at the Home International Matches in Scotland later this month.
Unfortunately for spectators at the “South”, just one of the chosen 11, West Waterford’s Gary Hurley, made the trip to Co Clare for the oldest of the four provincial championships with the other 10 resting ahead of next week’s European Individual Amateur Championship at Carton House
But Hurley too is now gone, beaten by two holes by Cork’s John Hickey on a day when 20 mph westerly winds made life tough for the 128 players in action.
There is growing concern among lovers of the South that it is losing cachet in an era when the calendar has become seriously congested and a growing band of elite, full-time amateurs pick and choose their events with great care.
The West of Ireland champion Harry Diamond, East of Ireland and Irish Close winner Chris Selfridge, Irish Amateur Open champion Gavin Moynihan and North of Ireland champion Rory McNamara have all stayed away.
“The calendar is fairly congested and a lot of players are looking for a rest after the Interprovincial Matches last week,” Murray said. “It’s probably the best of the championships for spectators and atmosphere and it certainly gets the crowds.
“It’s hard to know what can be done to help the situation but in my opinion, the six major championships should be given priority over everything else in the calendar.
“Amateur golf has gone to a semi-professional level now anyway with very few guys working. And with so many tournaments to choose from, you can just pick and choose what you want to play.”
Murray recommends playing the Interprovincial Matches earlier in the season and pushing back to the Home Internationals to the end of August, giving the South room to breath.
Whatever about the future, the field in Lahinch is still brimming with talent with defending champion Stephen Walsh of Portmarnock and 2006 champion Simon Ward easing into today’s third round.
Galway’s Joe Lyons, runner up in 2007, was amongst the most relieved after he edged out former East of Ireland winner Eoin Arthurs at the 20th but 2010 winner John Greene lost by two holes to Ballyclare’s Ally Purdy in the last match of the day.
South of Ireland Amateur Open (sponsored by Clare Coast Hotels)
At Lahinch Golf Club, Co Clare
Monday 30th July
Third round tee-times
1 7:00 Simon Ward (Co Louth) v Matthew McClean (Balmoral)
2 7:09 Conor Casey (Neshanic Valley) v Colm O’Sullivan (Fota Island)
3 7:18 Barry Anderson (Co Sligo/NUIM) v Stephen Dwyer (Lucan)
4 7:27 Paul O’Neill (Shannon) v Niall Gorey (Muskerry)
5 7:36 Des Morgan (Mullingar) v Declan Loftus (Castlebar)
6 7:45 Jonathon Yates (Naas) v David Finn (Mallow)
7 7:54 Ciaran Mollo (Ardee) v Eugene Smith (Ardee)
8 8:03 Damian Coyne (Tuam) v William Russell (Clandeboye)
9 8:12 Stephen Loftus (Lahinch) v Sean Barry (Muskerry)
10 8:21 Michael Durcan (Co Sligo) v Stuart Grehan (Tullamore)
11 8:30 Simon Bryan (Delgany) v Gary O’Flaherty (Cork)
12 8:39 David Lally (Mullingar) v Andrew Hogan (Newlands)
13 8:48 Jon Foran(Thurles) v Shane Hogan (Nenagh)
14 8:57 Harry Coyne (Carton House) v Roy Connolly (Rathsallagh)
15 9:06 Paul O’Kane (Moyola Park) v Brendan Walton (The Island)
16 9:15 Peter Sheehan (Ballybunion) v Pat Murray (Limerick)
17 9:24 John Hickey (Cork) v Keith Shannon (Greenore)
18 9:33 Shane McGlynn (Carton House) v Michael Horan (Birr)
19 9:42 Richard Bridges (Stackstown) v Sean Ryan (The Royal Dublin)
20 9:51 Conor O’Rourke (Naas) v Gary McDermott (Co Sligo)
21 10:00 Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) v Ross Kenny (Naas/NUIM)
22 10:09 Ed Stack (Ballybunion) v Colin Fairweather (Knock)
23 10:18 Gary Collins (Rosslare) v John A Foran (Charleville)
24 10:27 Paul McCarthy (Mallow) v Stephen Walsh (Portmarnock)
25 10:36 Gary Walsh (Mt Juliet) v Ian Spillane (Mallow)
26 10:45 Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass) v Paul O’Hara (Kilkenny)
27 10:54 Mark Shanahan (Castlemartyr) v Stephen Healy (Claremorris)
28 11:03 Daniel Holland (Castle) v Brian Ronan (Co Louth)
29 11:12 Joe Lyons (Birr) v Greg Carew (Edenderry)
30 11:21 Paul Cullen (Royal Tara) v Kieran Kennedy (Thurles)
31 11:30 Ciaran McKenna (Mallow) v Ross O’Sullivan (Cobh)
32 11:39 Liam Harnett (Milltown) v Ally Purdy (Ballyclare)
Sunday 29th July
Simon Ward (Co. Louth) bt Greg Mungovan (Headfort) 5/3
Matthew McClean (Balmoral) bt Mark Richards (Carton House) 3/2
Conor Casey (Neshanic Valley) bt Steffan O’Hara (Co. Sligo) 1 Up
Colm O’Sullivan (Fota Island) w/o Robert Cannon (Balbriggan)
Barry Anderson (Co. Sligo/NUIM) bt Richard Walsh (Kilkenny) 7/6
Stephen Dwyer (Lucan) bt Sean Cannon (Loughrea) 5/4
Paul O’Neill (Shannon) bt Matthew McAlpin (Royal Portrush) 5/3
Niall Gorey (Muskerry) bt Declan McInerney (Lahinch) 19th
Des Morgan (Mullingar) bt Daniel Hallissey (Muskerry) 20th
Declan Loftus (Castlebar) bt Ian Brennan (Greenore) 20th
Jonathan Yates (Naas) bt Billy McGarry (Birr) 3/1
David Finn (Mallow) bt Gavin McKenna (Fortwilliam) 3/2
Ciaran Molloy (Ardee) bt Kevin O’Leary (Waterford Castle) 7/5
Eugene Smith (Ardee) bt Gerard Dunne (Seapoint) 1 hole
Damien Coyne (Tuam) bt Jamie Sutherland (Galgorm Castle) 21st
William Russell (Clandeboye) bt Aaron Grant (Dundalk) 3/2.
Stephen Loftus (Lahinch) bt Conor Glynn (Carton House) 2 holes
Sean Barry (Muskerry) bt Kieran Lynch (Skibbereen) 3/1
Michael Durcan (Co. Sligo) bt Evan Long (Thurles) 3/2
Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) bt James Patrick McLaughlin (Portumna) 2/1
Simon Byran (Delgany) bt Paddy Delaney (Arklow) 6/5
Gary O’Flaherty (Cork) bt Eddie Power (Kilkenny) 1 hole
David Lally (Mullingar) bt Michael O’Kelly (Limerick) 3/2
Andrew Hogan (Newlands) bt Adam Doran (Ardee) 2/1
Jon Foran (Thurles) bt Aaron Kearney (Castlerock) 2/1
Shane Hogan (Nenagh) bt Emmet Leahy (Cahir Park) 3/2
Harry Coyne (Carton House) bt Mark King (Cregmore Park) 2 holes
Roy Connolly (Rathsallagh) bt Pio O’Leary (Lucan) 1 hole
Paul O’Kane (Moyla Park) bt Ronan Maher (Nenagh) 3/2
Brendan Walton (The Island) bt Liam Ashby (Killerig) 1 hole
Peter Sheehan (Ballybunion) bt Kieran Cunnane (Woodstock) 3/2
Pat Murray (Limerick) bt Liam Hutchinson (The Royal Dublin) 5/4.
John Hickey (Cork) bt Gary Hurley (West Waterford / NUIM) 2/1
Keith Shannon (Greenore) bt Noel Pyne (Ennis) 6/5
Shane McGlynn (Carton House) bt Quentin Carew (Edenderry) 1 Hole
Michael Horan (Birr) w/o Barry Daly (Edmondstown)
Richard Bridges (Stackstown) bt Eoghan Murphy (Cork) 5/3
Sean Ryan (The Royal Dublin) bt Jeff Hopkins (Skerries) 1 hole
Conor O’Rourke (Naas) bt Tony Cleary (Dromoland Castle) 2/1
Gary McDermott (Co. Sligo) bt Thomas Griffin (Crews Hill) 6/5
Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) bt Eanna Griffin (Waterford) 3/2
Ross Kenny (Naas / NUIM) w/o Eamonn Haugh (Castletroy)
Edward Stack (Ballybunion) bt Gary McGrane (The Royal Dublin) 1 hole
Colin Fairweather (Knock) bt Cian Daly (Castletroy) 6/4
Gary Collins (Rosslare) bt David Byrne (Athenry) 3/2
John A Moran (Charleville) bt Alan McAuley (Ardee) 3/1
Paul McCarthy (Mallow) bt Ian O’Rourke (Cork) 20th
Stephen Walsh (Portmarnock) bt Ian Lynch (Rosslare) 7/6.
Gary Walsh (Mount Juliet) bt Jack Pierse (Grange) 19th
Ian Spillane (Mallow) bt Shaun O’Connor (Skerries) 5/4
Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass) bt Tony O’Leary (Wexford) 2/1
Paul O’Hara (Kilkenny) w/o Tiaran McLarnon (Massereene)
Mark Shanahan (Castlemartyr) bt Shane Smyth (Co. Louth) 3/2
Stephen Healy (Claremorris) bt David Barry (Mahon) 2 holes
Daniel Holland (Castle) bt Mark Mullen (Wexford) 4/3
Bryan Ronan (Co. Louth) bt Jack Hume (Rathsallagh) 4/3
Joe Lyons (Birr) bt Eoin Arthurs (Forrest Little) 20th
Greg Carew (Edenderry) bt Shaun Carter (Stackstown / NUIM) 2 holes
Paul Cullen (Royal Tara) bt Stephen Moloney (Castletroy) 1 hole
Kieran Kennedy (Thurles) bt Lee McMillan (Blessington Lakes) 1 hole
Ciaran McKenna (Mallow) bt Robert Farrell (New Ross) 5/4
Ross O’Sullivan (Cobh) bt Rick Weldon (Killeen Castle) 7/5
Liam Harnett (Milltown) bt Gavin Smyth (Clonmel) 5/4
Ally Purdy (Ballyclare) bt John Greene (Portmarnock / NUIM) 2 holes.