Irish struggle at first stage of Q-School

Waterville's Mark Murphy during the recent Northern Ireland Open Challenge at Galgorm Castle. Picture: Thos Caffrey /

Waterville's Mark Murphy was the only Irish golfer inside the qualifying places at the halfway stage of the European Tour Qualiifying School Section A qualifiers in Austria and Scotland.

The Kerryman shot rounds of 70 and 69 to share sixth place at halfway at The Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course in Scotland, where the top 17 and ties will progress to Stage Two.

The qualifying mark was three under with two rounds to go which means that Headfort's Brian Casey (74-70) on level par, Portstewart's Paul Cutler (69-76) one over, Ballymena amateur Dermot McElroy (75-71) two over, Rathmore's Alan Dunbar (72-77) three over and Killarney's Danny Sugrue (76-75) seven over, have a lot of work to do.

The Top 20 and ties at Ebreichsdorf in Austria will progress, leaving Omagh's Nial Kearns out of the running after rounds of 80 and 79 left him at the back of the field.