Impressive O'Hanlon holds the aces at Baltray
 Paul O'Hanlon drives at the 12th in round two 

Paul O'Hanlon drives at the 12th in round two 

Former professional Paul O’Hanlon takes a four-stroke lead into today’s final two rounds of the CityNorth Hotel East of Ireland Amateur Open and if anyone knows what he’s feeling, it’s wily  Jim Carvill.

The 50-year old from Warrenpoint won the East as a reinstated amateur 11 years ago and having led by five with 36 holes to play, he reckons his 32-year old Kildare counterpart will be almost impossible to beat if he manages his game well.

“If he shoots 71-71, he hacks up,” Carvill said of O’Hanlon, who is four ahead of Portmarnock’s Jack Pierse (71-68) and County Louth’s Gerard Dunne (67-72) on nine under par after adding a 70 to his opening 65. 

“If he shoots 72-72, he will probably still hack up.”

Carvill opened 70-65 in 2005 and added rounds of 71 and 74 to win by three on eight under par.

And  having played for three years on the Europro Tour and other mini tours before regaining his amateur status at the end of 2014, a player of the quality of 2008 Irish Close champion and Willie Gill Award winner O’Hanlon knows how to plot his way to victory

“Tomorrow? I still have no clue,” the leader said modestly after another sun-kissed day on a pristine but defenceless County Louth where the effect of firm greens is being cancelled out by light rough and little breeze. 

“It could be a house of cards still lads. And I haven’t played 36 holes in a day since 2008. That’s a good point.”

Four birdies and two bogeys added up to a fine 70 for the former Curragh player, now playing out of  Carton House. And as a trainee accountant, he’s aware that the numbers game favours him today even if he is unsure what strategy to adopt.

“It’s nice to roll back the years a bit but even still, the standard of golf I am playing is probably far better than the standard I ever played at, which is bizarre,”  he said after he followed a bogey at the 17th with a tidy chip and putt birdie from pin high left of the 18th. 

“I haven’t had a swing thought in about two years. I care, but I don’t care that much. I am just in a good place.”

After an early birdie at the sixth, the key to O’Hanlon’s day came at the next two holes where he holed a 20 footer for bogey at the seventh and then followed it with a 60 footer for birdie at the eighth he said was “probably the longest putt I’ve holed in about five years.”

He also holed a 30 foot birdie putt at the 12th and he feels that remaining positive and keeping the birdie count ticking over is the key to getting the job done today.

“This would mean more to me that winning the Close or anything else, because I'm a working man now,” he said. “But at the same time, it will be a complete bonus. I had no expectations coming here.”

Local hero Dunne shot a 72 to get to within four of O’Hanlon on five under par before being joined by 25-year old Portmarnock talent Pierse.

It will be interesting to see how he deals with the pressure of carrying home hopes on the final day but he's clearly got more than enough game to frighten O'Hanlon.

As for Pierse, a 66 to win a recent medal at Portmarnock was a sign that the player who numbers 'Handsome Jack' amongst his many nicknames, had a rollercoaster second round. 

Starting on the 10th, Pierse bogeyed the 11th, 12th and 13th to be two over and and in danger of missing the cut. But them played nine holes from the 16th to the sixth in seven under.

After a birdie at the 16th, he eagled the 18th to get back to one under, then birdied the second, third, fourth and sixth for a 68 that was only matched by Robert Neville (missed cut), Daniel Brennan (T19, Even) and Robbie Cannon (T11, -1). 

With South Africa’s Noel Anderson (69), Belvoir Park’s Gareth Lappin (70), Slieve Russell’s Theo Coffey (71) and Co Sligo and Carton House veteran Gary McDermott (71) all tied fourth, six shots behind on three under, the title is very much in O’Hanlon’s hands.

East of Ireland Amateur Open, Co Louth GC, sponsored by CityNorth Hotel

Monday tee-times

(1st tee/10th tee)

  1. (0700/1215) A Grant, S Watts
  2. (0711/1226) A Dowling, K McCarron
  3. (0722/1237) E Arthurs, E Farrell, E O’Connor
  4. (0733/1248) R Steedman, M Morrissey, K Stack
  5. (0744/1259) A Myles, P Coughlan, J Carvill
  6. (0755/1310) G Lenehan, D Mallon, D Foy
  7. (0806/1321) C Butler, J Hood, A Lowry
  8. (0817/1332) T Mulligan, T O’Leary, P McCarthy
  9. (0828/1343) E Smith, S Coulter, R Lester

(10th tee/1st tee)

  1. (0700/1215) J Gourley, J Hickey, W Russell
  2. (0711/1226) D Brennan, D Brophy, I O’Rourke
  3. (0722/1237) P Murray, T McLarnon, C Rafferty
  4. (0733/1248) S Healy, N Grant, C Nolan
  5. (0744/1259) C Woodroffe, K Egan, R Cannon
  6. (0755/1310) G McDermott, S Bleakley, R Mullarney
  7. (0806/1321) N Anderson, T Coffey, G Lappin
  8. (0817/1332) P O’Hanlon, G Dunne, J Pierse.

After 36 holes

Qualifiers

135 Paul O'Hanlon (Carton House) 65 70

139 Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) 71 68, Gerard Dunne (Co. Louth) 67 72

141 Noel Anderson (South Africa) 72 69, Gareth Lappin (Belvoir Park) 71 70, Theo Coffey (Slieve Russell) 70 71, Gary McDermott (Carton House) 70 71

142 Ronan Mullarney (Galway Golf Club) 72 70, Stuart Bleakley (Shandon Park) 72 70, Colin Woodroofe (Blainroe) 71 71

143 Robert Cannon (Balbriggan) 75 68, Keith Egan (Carton House) 73 70, Stephen Healy (The Royal Dublin) 72 71, Nicky Grant (Shandon Park) 72 71, Cathal Nolan (Galway Golf Club) 72 71, Pat Murray (Limerick Golf Club) 71 72, Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) 70 73, Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) 70 73

144 Daniel Brennan (Shannon) 76 68, Ian O'Rourke (The Royal Dublin) 74 70, Dylan Brophy (Castleknock) 73 71, Jonathan Gourley (Shandon Park) 72 72, Eugene Smith (Ardee) 71 73, William Russell (Clandeboye) 71 73, Rowan Lester (Hermitage) 71 73, John Hickey (Cork Golf Club) 71 73, Stephen Coulter (Warrenpoint) 70 74

145 Paul McCarthy (Mallow) 75 70, Thomas Mulligan (Co. Louth) 75 70, Tony O'Leary (Wexford) 75 70, Cathal Butler (Kinsale) 74 71, Alan Lowry (Esker Hills) 73 72, David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) 73 72, Dwayne Mallon (Dungannon Golf Club) 73 72, Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) 73 72, Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) 73 72, Alec Myles (Newlands) 72 73, Jim Carvill (Banbridge) 71 74

146 Paul Coughlan (Moate) 75 71, Ross Steedman (Courtown) 74 72, Mark Morrissey (Mount Wolseley) 73 73, Eoin Arthurs (Forrest Little.) 73 73, Eoin O'Connor (Elm Park) 73 73, Kevin Stack (Dungarvan) 73 73, Evan Farrell (Ardee) 72 74, Alan Dowling (Hermitage) 71 75, Stephen Watts (Cairndhu) 70 76, Kyle McCarron (North West) 70 76, Aaron Grant (Dundalk) 69 77

Non Qualifiers

147 Gary Ward (Kinsale) 78 69, Stephen Kinch (Hollystown) 75 72, Fergal Kennedy (The Island) 74 73, Stephen Walsh (Portmarnock) 74 73, Shaun Carter (The Royal Dublin) 74 73, Rory Williamson (Holywood Golf Club) 74 73, Mark Collins (Killeen Castle) 73 74, Steffan O'Hara (Co. Sligo) 72 75, Fergal O'Sullivan (Tralee Golf Club) 72 75, James Sugrue (Mallow) 72 75, Declan Reidy (Co. Sligo) 72 75, Andrew McCormack (Castletroy Golf Club) 71 76, Sean Ryan (The Royal Dublin) 71 76, Paul Reavey (Warrenpoint) 71 76, Jamie Sutherland (Galgorm Castle) 71 76, Liam Grehan (Mullingar) 70 77, Ben Best (Rathmore) 70 77

148 Daniel Holland (Castle) 76 72, Seamus Cullen (Slieve Russell) 76 72, Rob Brazill (Naas) 76 72, Michael Ryan (New Ross Golf Club) 75 73, Shane McGlynn (Portmarnock) 75 73, Jack Ryan (Castletroy Golf Club) 75 73, Ryan Symington (Lisburn) 75 73, Adam Doran (Ardee) 75 73, Harry Duggan (Kilkenny Golf Club) 74 74, Jack McDonnell (Forrest Little.) 74 74, Ted Collins (Dun Laoghaire) 74 74, Michael Sinclair (Knock) 73 75, Jamie Fletcher (Warrenpoint) 73 75, Neil McKinstry (Cairndhu) 73 75, Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin) 72 76, Alexander Wilson (Portmarnock) 72 76, Gavin Smyth (Clonmel Golf Club) 70 78

149 Robert Neville (The Links Portmarnock) 81 68, John Greene (Portmarnock) 77 72, Gary Collins (Rosslare) 77 72, Michael Reid (Galgorm Castle) 76 73, Peter McKeever (Castle) 76 73, Gary McGrane (The Royal Dublin) 75 74, Ryan Berkeley (Dun Laoghaire) 75 74, Peter Kirby (Dun Laoghaire) 74 75, Marc Nolan (Delgany) 73 76, Darragh Coghlan (Portmarnock) 73 76, Roy Connolly (Carton House) 72 77, Sean Flanagan (Co. Sligo) 72 77

150 John McGinn (Laytown & Bettystown) 78 72, Padhraic O'Brien (Co. Louth) 75 75, Jake Whelan (Newlands) 75 75, Nils Conway (Grange) 75 75, David Reddan (Nenagh) 75 75, Aaron Kearney (Castlerock Golf Club) 74 76, Brian Doran (Baltinglass Golf Club) 73 77, Gareth Bohill (Co. Louth) 73 77

151 Thomas Nolan (Galway Golf Club) 80 71, Owen O'Brien (Limerick Golf Club) 76 75, Paul Behan (St. Anne's) 76 75, Stefan Greenberg (Tandragee Golf Club) 75 76, John Conroy (Bray) 75 76, Noel Crawford (Mourne) 74 77, Cian Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) 74 77, Conor Ryan (Dun Laoghaire) 74 77, Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick) 73 78

152 Robbie Pierse (Grange) 82 70, Peter Kane (Ashbourne) 78 74, Mark Shanahan (Castlemartyr) 76 76, Robert Farrell (New Ross Golf Club) 76 76, Eddie McCormack (Galway Bay Golf Club) 75 77, Colm Crowley (Woodbrook) 74 78

153 Thomas O'Connor (Athlone) 81 72, Joe Lyons (Galway Golf Club) 78 75, Mark Mullen (Rosslare) 77 76, Declan O'Neill (Carton House) 77 76, Shaun O'Connor (Luttrellstown Castle) 77 76, Sean Moran (Co. Meath Golf Club) 75 78, Gavin Young (Nenagh) 75 78

154 Michael Buggy (Castlecomer Golf Club) 81 73, Mark MacGrath (Limerick Golf Club) 81 73, Jack Doherty (Carton House) 80 74, Stephen Brady (Galway Golf Club) 78 76, Eanna Griffin (Waterford) 77 77, Christopher O'Connor (Corrstown) 76 78, William Hanna (Kilkeel) 72 82

155 Brian Kelly (Spain) 84 71, Bryan McSweeney (The Royal Dublin) 79 76, Keith Murphy (Charlesland) 79 76, Conor McCaughey (Dungannon Golf Club) 78 77, Christopher Moulds (Lisburn) 77 78

156 Quentin Carew (Edenderry) 82 74

157 Cameron Raymond (Newlands) 79 78, Martin O'Toole (Lucan) 79 78, Sean Broe (Forrest Little.) 79 78, Matthew Grehan (Tullamore) 78 79

158 Luke Donnelly (Kilkenny Golf Club) 83 75, Craig Bolger (Carlow Golf Club) 83 75, Thomas Hackett (The Royal Dublin) 81 77, Michael Brett (Portmarnock) 80 78, Darragh Crawford (Bundoran Golf Club) 78 80

160 Gavin McKenna (Fortwilliam) 82 78

161 Gareth Carr (Mullingar) 85 76

162 Caolan Kennedy (Forrest Little.) 78 84

163 Matt McKnight (USA) 84 79

167 John McCarthy (Stackstown) 82 85

WD/DQ Niall Foley (The Island) 73 DQ, James Fox (Portmarnock) 77 WD, Cian Dullaghan (Greenore Golf Club) 81 WD, Ross Dutton (Tandragee Golf Club) WD WD DQ Niall Foley (The Island).