Youth will have its fling at Baltray today with Greystones’ Paul Dunne heading a trio of Irish Youths champions in a 36-hole battle for the coveted East of Ireland Amateur Open title.
The 20-year old University of Alabama Birmingham finance student, who added the Irish Youths title to his brace of Irish Boys crowns in 2010, avoided County Louth’s thick rough and putted aggressively on billiard table greens to fire seven birdies in a superb 68 for a seven under par total of 137.
That was good enough in the end for a four-stroke lead over Headfort’s Brian Casey (69) with Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan five back after a second successive 71. But Dunne may also be aware that in recent years, the halfway leader has failed more often than not to get the job done.
Having taken advantage of benign conditions in the morning, Dunne was able to retire to his accommodation in one the “dormy” rooms above the clubhouse to recharge his batteries but only 22-year old Casey and 20 year old Grehan were able to get close to his total in the afternoon.
Casey, who won last year’s Mullingar Scratch Cup and Munster Strokeplay titles in some style, confessed that he played “clever” golf to card six birdies and just three bogeys in a late afternoon 69 to go into the final two rounds as Dunne’s nearest pursuer on three under 141.
Grehan, who has just completed his freshman year at Eastern Michigan University, is ball-striker in the Casey mould and that was crucial in calm conditions as Baltray’s only real defence this year is the thick rough that has flourished in the recent warm, damp weather.
“Overall, I hit my driver all and putted well and I think that’s the key to scoring well out here,” said Dunne, who also has two Irish Boys titles (2008 & 2009) on his CV as well as two Under 15s crowns in Connacht and Ulster.
tarting on the back nine, he bogeyed the 11th but then birdied the 13th from 20 feet and the made amends for missing a three-footer for birdie at the 14th with a birdie from 15 feet at the short 15th.
Par saves from 12 feet at the 17th and 18th, where he was bunkered off the tee, helped him turn in one under 34.
A bogey at the first was only a minor set back for Dunne, who has two Irish Boys titles on his CV.
He got up and down from 50 yards for birdies at the par-five third and driveable fourth and followed a bogey at the trikcy par-three fifth with threee birdies in his last four holes.
After chipping dead for birdie at the par-five sixth, he holed a 20 footer at the seventh for a two and then ran home a 20 footer at the ninth
“I like the greens because they are very true and they are cut nicely,” said Dunne, who holed seven putts between 10 and 20 feet. “In America I am used to greens that are a little bit quicker so it means I can give the putts a go without being too worried about the one back.
“It allows me be aggressive from the 10 to 20 feet range. And I got a few to drop today, so hopefully I can do the same tomorrow.”
As overnight leader Des Morgan tangled too often with the rough and fell eight shots off the pace after a 77, Co Sligo’s Gary McDermott fed off the memories of a recent practice nine with Des Smyth and Declan Branigan to pepper his 68 with seven birdies and go into the final day tied for fourth with Rathmore’s Ben Best (72) and Luttrellstown Castle’s Shaun O’Connor (72), six shots adrift on 143.
Casey, a man unfraid of going low when his swing is in the groove, was an impressive winner of the Mullingar Scratch Trophy and the Munster Strokeplay last year. He was four under par after si holes thanks to birdies at the second, fourth, fifth and sixth and while he bogeyed the sevoenth and 12th, he birdied the 13th and 14th before a bogey at the 16th took some of the gloss off an otherewise impressive display.
“The plan tomorrow is just to go back to old times when I was able to close it out and come from behind,” said Casey, who sounded like a veteran despite his youth. “I’ve done it quite a few times so let’s see if I can sneak up on Paul little bit. You have to hit fairways and greens. It’s a course where you have to be clever around it. You’ve got to place it.”
A former international, bank official McDermott is a 32-year old veteran still searching for his maiden championship victory. Why he hasn’t won one yet might be explained by a tendency to make course management errors but he’s certainly talented enough as he showed in reeling off seven birdies in an impressive 68 in the afternoon.
Having met Des Smyth and Declan Branigan during the recent West of Ireland Championship, he arranged a nine hole practice round with those two legends last month and made sure he had his eyes and ears open.
“I didn’t win the money but I got a lesson,” said the Sligo man who had birdies at the second, third, fourth, sixth, ninth, 10th and 18th. “I paid attention and learned where not to miss it.”
Knowing where not to miss it and actually doing it are two different things and McDermott confessed that he had “a wee bit of a speed wobble” as he bogeyed missed greens and bogeyed the 11th, 12th and 17th.
Having hit the ball to six feet all day and holed the putts, it was a shock to the system.
“One minute you are cruising, then all of a sudden you’re scraping,” he said.
Three under playing the 18th, he feared a good score could slip through his fingers when he drove into deep rough before recovering sublimely.
“It was an absolute hack but I got it back up the fairway, running,” he said of his second.
His third was the kind of classy shot he will need today, a five iron from 202 yards that pitched at the front of the green and rolled up to 12 feet, setting up a closing birdie four.
If Dunne drives and putts as well as he has done over the first two days, he will be a tough man to catch.
But there are others in the field who are capable of serious fireworks on a track that rewards a man with a well-behaved driver, a tidy short game and a hot putter.
Ardee’s Eugene Smith, Claremorris’ Stephen Healy and Baltray’s Simon Ward are all lurking on level par 144 while overnight leader Des Morgan is still not out of it on 145 despite adding a 77 to his opening 68.
It’s asking a lot for Warrenpoint’s Paul Reavey to repeat yesterday’s best of the day 67, which repaired the damage of an opening 80.
Irish Amateur Open champion Robbie Cannon also bounced back, following his opening 80 with an impressive, bogey free 68 to trail Dunne by 11 shots on four over.
He will remember that reigning East of Ireland champion Chris Selfridge, who missed the cut by five shots, was eight strokes off the pace at halfway last year. In 2011, Richie O’Donovan was nine behind Alan Dunbar and shot seven under on the last day to win by two.
The cut for the top 51 fell at six over par 150 with just one man eliminated on that number - US based Ulsterman Matt McKnight (74-76) on a countback from Portmarnock’s John Greene (75-75).
East of Ireland Amateur Open, Co Louth (Par 72)
Third and fourth round tee-times:
1st tee/10th tee
(7:00/12:15 J Greene (Portmarnock) J Hopkins (Royal Dublin) J Yates (Naas)
(7:10/12:25) M Brett (Portmarnock) K Purcell (Dun Laoghaire) A Carrick (Douglas Park)
(7:20/12:35) S McGlynn (Carton House) M McAlpin (Royal Portrush) D Holland (Castle)
(7:30/12:45) C O’Rourke (Naas) B Anderson (Royal Dublin) J Fox (Portmarnock)
(7:40/12:55) S Bryan (Delgany) S Moran (Carton House) C Melvin (Corrstown)
(7:50/13:05) JR Galbraith (Whitehead) H Diamond (Belvoir Park) J Hume (Rathsallagh)
(8:00/13:15) K Lynch (Skibbereen) I O’ Flynn (Cork) M Mullen (Wexford)
(8:10/13:25) J Walsh (Castle) A Kearney (Castlerock) M Sinclair (Knock)
10th Tee/1st Tee
(7:00/12:15) S Flanagan (Co. Sligo) I Brennan (Greenore) R Cannon (Balbriggan)
(7:10/12:25) T McLarnon (Massereene) P Murray (Limerick) J Sutherland (Galgorm Castle)
(7:20/12:35) N Foley (The Island) D Carey (Carton House) P Reavey (Warrenpoint)
(7:30/12:45) G Lenehan (Portmarnock) S Walsh (Portmarnock) G Bohill (Co. Louth)
(7:40/12:55) D Byrne (Greystones) D Morgan (Mullingar) P McBride (The Island)
(7:50/13:05) K Quigg (City of Derry) G Collins (Rosslare) S Carter (Stackstown)
(8:00/13:15) S Ward (Co. Louth) S Healy (Claremorris) E Smith (Ardee)
(8:10/13:25) S O’Connor (Luttrellstown Castle) B Best (Rathmore) G McDermott (Co Sligo)
(8:20/13:35) S Grehan (Tullamore) B Casey (Headfort) P Dunne (Greystones).
After 36 holes
137 P Dunne (Greystones) 69 68
141 B Casey (Headfort) 72 69
142 S Grehan (Tullamore) 71 71
143 G McDermott (Co. Sligo) 75 68, B Best (Rathmore) 71 72, S O’Connor (Luttrellstown Castle) 71 72
144 E Smith (Ardee) 72 72, S Healy (Claremorris) 72 72, S Ward (Co. Louth) 71 73
145 S Carter (Stackstown) 73 72, G Collins (Rosslare) 73 72, K Quigg (City of Derry) 71 74, P McBride (The Island) 70 75, D Morgan (Mullingar) 68 77
146 D Byrne (Greystones) 76 70, G Bohill (Co. Louth) 75 71, S Walsh (Portmarnock) 71 75, G Lenehan (Portmarnock) 71 75
147 P Reavey (Warrenpoint) 80 67, D Carey (Carton House) 75 72, N Foley (The Island) 74 73, J Sutherland (Galgorm Castle) 74 73, P Murray (Limerick) 73 74, T McLarnon (Massereene) 71 76
148 R Cannon (Balbriggan) 80 68, I Brennan (Greenore) 76 72, S Flanagan (Co. Sligo) 76 72, M Sinclair (Knock) 76 72, A Kearney (Castlerock) 74 74, J Walsh (Castle) 73 75, M Mullen (Wexford) 72 76, I O’ Flynn (Cork) 72 76, K Lynch (Skibbereen) 72 76, J Hume (Rathsallagh) 71 77
149 H Diamond (Belvoir Park) 77 72, J Galbraith (Whitehead) 76 73, C Melvin (Corrstown) 76 73, S Moran (Carton House) 76 73, S Bryan (Delgany) 75 74, J Fox (Portmarnock) 74 75, B Anderson (The Royal Dublin) 74 75
150 C O’Rourke (Naas) 80 70, D Holland (Castle) 78 72, M McAlpin (Royal Portrush) 78 72, S McGlynn (Carton House) 77 73, A Carrick (Douglas Park Golf Club) 77 73, K Purcell (Dun Laoghaire) 77 73, M Brett (Portmarnock) 76 74, J Yates (Naas) 76 74, J Hopkins (The Royal Dublin) 76 74, J Greene (Portmarnock) 75 75,
150 M McKnight (LPGA International) 74 76
151 M Shanahan (Castlemartyr) 77 74, N Gorey (Muskerry) 76 75, K Le Blanc (The Island) 76 75, I Lynch (Rosslare) 75 76, E O’Connor (Elm Park) 75 76, P Coughlan (Moate) 74 77, C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) 74 77, C Kennedy (Forrest Little) 74 77, S Coulter (Warrenpoint) 73 78, N Grant (Knock) 73 78
152 C Doran (Banbridge) 77 75, G O’Flaherty (Cork) 76 76, L Ashby (Killerig) 76 76, K McDonagh (Athlone) 76 76, C Drumm (Rosslare) 75 77, A Grant (Dundalk) 73 79, E Farrell (Ardee) 72 80
153 R Lester (Hermitage) 79 74, T O’Leary (Wexford) 79 74, M Reid (Galgorm Castle) 78 75, M Collins (Killeen Castle) 77 76, C Campbell (Warrenpoint) 77 76, S O’Hara (Co. Sligo) 77 76, E McCormack (Co. Cavan) 76 77, S Ryan (The Royal Dublin) 76 77, D Downie (Sutton) 76 77, C Rafferty (Greenore) 76 77, M Wylie (Quinta da ria Portugal) 76 77, A Lowry (Esker Hills) 75 78, G Mungovan (Headfort) 74 79
154 G Dunne (Co. Louth) 81 73, A Hogan (Newlands) 80 74, C Deegan (Castle) 80 74, R Kenny (Naas) 79 75, Q Carew (Edenderry) 79 75, D Shaw (Belvoir Park) 79 75, J Carvill (Banbridge) 78 76, E Arthurs (Forrest Little) 77 77, M Buggy (Castlecomer) 76 78, S Brady (Co. Sligo) 75 79, T O’Connor (Athlone) 74 80, J Pierse (Grange) 73 81
155 M Morrissey (Mount Wolseley) 83 72, C Selfridge (Moyola Park) 83 72, A Gleeson (Castle) 81 74, S Dwyer (Lucan) 80 75, D Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) 79 76, K McCarthy (Kinsale) 79 76, E O’Keeffe (Corrstown) 78 77
156 A Kiernan (Forrest Little) 82 74, P O’Brien (Co. Louth) 82 74, K Crowley (Fota Island) 81 75, C McKenna (Mallow) 81 75, S Hogan (Nenagh) 79 77, S Cullen (Slieve Russell) 78 78, C Martin (Kilkenny) 77 79, M McClean (Balmoral) 76 80
157 D Lally (Mullingar) 83 74, R Bridges (Stackstown) 81 76, L Hutchinson (The Royal Dublin) 81 76, A McCloy (Ballymena) 80 77, A Kelly (Muskerry) 80 77, T Collins (Dun Laoghaire) 79 78, J Lyons (Galway) 79 78, R McKinstry (Cairndhu) 78 79, J Leacy (Dungarvan) 77 80, G Lappin (Belvoir Park) 77 80, P Connolly (Clontarf) 76 81, R O’Reilly (Headfort) 75 82
158 S Cannon (Loughrea) 84 74, D O’Neill (Carton House) 83 75, G Carew (Edenderry) 81 77, N Beirth (Co. Louth) 81 77, M O’Rourke (Royal Tara) 81 77, K Egan (Carton House) 80 78, E Griffin (Waterford) 78 80, G Lawlor (Newbridge) 78 80
159 D McCusker (Moyola Park) 80 79, J Timlin (Dungannon) 80 79, G McKenna (Fortwilliam) 78 81, C Tormey (Mullingar) 77 82, G McGrane (The Royal Dublin) 76 83
160 R Durnin (Laytown & Bettystown) 85 75, C Fairweather (Knock) 83 77, R Symington (Lisburn) 81 79, C O’Sullivan (Fota Island) 81 79, J Whelan (Newlands) 78 82
162 J Sabir (Glasson) 80 82
163 J Monaghan (The Royal Dublin) 84 79, J Conroy (Bray) 81 82, D Loftus (Castlebar) 80 83
166 D Barry (Mahon) 84 82, H Coyne (Carton House) 84 82, A Hanley (The Royal Dublin) 81 85
NR L McMillan (Carton House) 81 NR, D Regan (Co. Meath) 85 NR, D O’Connor (Athlone) 89 NR
DQ A Dowling (Hermitage) 78 DQ, M Kane (Whitehead) 79 DQ
WTD S Mc Carthy (Killeen Castle) 80 WTD, P Cullen (Royal Tara) 85 WTD, A Lynch (Castleknock) 90 WTD