Mullarney leads hungry pack in Mullingar
 Galway's Ronan Mullarney as he helped Maynooth University reach last year's Barton Shield final. Picture:  Pat Cashman

Galway's Ronan Mullarney as he helped Maynooth University reach last year's Barton Shield final. Picture: Pat Cashman

Galway’s Ronan Mullarney has the game to win an amateur major and what better way to test himself than by taking a three-shot lead into Monday’s final two rounds of the Mullingar Electrical Scratch Trophy.

The Connacht interprovincial defied blustery conditions at the James Braid designed gem, carding five birdies in a morning 69, then adding another five in a four under par 68 to set the pace on seven under par.

Portmarnock’s Jack Pierse, who started with a 68 and add a 72 in the afternoon, is Mullarney’s nearest rival on four under par with South of Ireland runner up Rowan Lester from Hermitage a further shot back after rounds of 71 and 70.

Pierse played in the final group at the East of Ireland Championship and while he ended up tied 12th, he’s a dangerous prospect, especially if his putter behaves.

The same could be said for the rest of the top 10, including 20 year old Lester.

Looking for a big final day so he can to head to the Home Internationals in Scotland and then to college at Texas Wesleyan University in Forth Worth with a win under his belt, he said: “It would be nice to get a win. And it would also be nice to hole a few putts because it was really tough today with the pins on little knuckles and shelves.

“I haven’t had a win since I played Boys events but last week [at Lahinch] gave me a lot of confidence so I believe I will get a win sooner or later. I just have to keep playing the way I am playing and it will happen.”

A Mullingar player has yet win the famous old trophy but the drought could end in the event’s 54th year with Liam Grehan and Gareth Carr, a son of former Dublin footballer Tommy Carr, just five shots off the lead in joint fourth on two under par.

Just eight players broke par over the first two rounds with Newlands’ Jake Whelan, Galgorm Castle’s Jordan Hood and Charlesland’s Keith Murphy all at one under.

Irish Close champion Tiarnan McLarnon, recently handed his first cap for the Home Internationals, cannot be discounted either after a second round 68 left him on level par.

The cut for the top 51 fell at 11 over 155 with South of Ireland champion Conor Purcell one of four players to miss on that mark after disappointing rounds of 73 and 82.

The withdrawals of Colin Fairweather (68-80) and Woobrook’s Colm Crowley (75 77) were good news for Portmarnock’s Stephen Walsh and Athlone’s Thomas O’Connor, who moved up two spots and scraped in for the last two rounds in 50th and 51st.

Mullingar Electrical Scratch Trophy, Mullingar GC (Par 72)

Monday's tee-times

  1. (0630/1130) O’Connor, S Walsh, Ward;
  2. (0640/1140) Hogan, Kerr, Reidy;
  3. (0650/1150) Lynch, Knightly, Lenehan; 
  4. (0700/1200) Carey, M Grehan, Moran;
  5. (0710/1210) Knipe, Neville, King ;
  6. (0720/1220) Shanahan, Grant, Watts;
  7. (0730/1230) McDaid, McGlynn, Nolan;
  8. (0740/1240) Ford, Morgan, Brady;
  9. (0750/1250) McDonnell, Egan, Doran;
  10. (0800/1300) McDermott, Rafferty, Lyons;
  11. (0810/1310) R Pierse, Hickey, A McCormack;
  12. (0820/1320) Carew, Healy, Dunne;
  13. (0830/1330) Dawson, Reddan Jnr, K McCormack;
  14. (0840/1340) Brazill, Morley, J Walsh;
  15. (0850/1350) McLarnon, Whelan, Hood;
  16. (0900/1400) Murphy, Carr, L Grehan;
  17. (0910/1410) Lester, J Pierse, Mullarney.

Qualifiers

Detailed scores

137 Ronan Mullarney (Galway) 69 68

140 Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) 68 72

141 Rowan Lester (Hermitage) 71 70

142 Liam Grehan (Mullingar) 70 72, Gareth Carr (Mullingar) 68 74

143 Keith Murphy (Charlesland) 75 68, Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) 74 69, Jake Whelan (Newlands) 69 74

144 Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) 76 68

145 Jack Walsh (Castle) 72 73, Devin Morley (Oughterard) 70 75, Rob Brazill (Naas) 69 76

146 Karl McCormack (Portarlington) 78 68, David Reddan Jnr (Nenagh) 73 73, Robin Dawson (Tramore) 73 73, Gerard Dunne (Co. Louth) 71 75, Cian Healy (Ballyneety) 71 75, Quentin Carew (Edenderry) 70 76, Andrew McCormack (Castletroy) 70 76

147 John Hickey (Cork) 72 75

148 Robbie Pierse (Grange) 75 73, Joe Lyons (Galway) 74 74, Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) 72 76, Shane McDermott (Co. Cavan) 72 76, Colin Fairweather (Knock) 68 80

149 Brian Doran (Baltinglass) 73 76

150 Keith Egan (Royal Curragh) 77 73, Jack McDonnell (Forrest Little.) 77 73, David Brady (Co. Sligo) 73 77

151 Des Morgan (New Forest) 78 73, TJ Ford (Co. Sligo) 76 75, Cathal Nolan (Galway) 75 76, Shane McGlynn (Portmarnock) 72 79

152 Anthony McDaid (Palmerstown Stud) 79 73, Stephen Watts (Cairndhu) 77 75, Nicholas Grant (Shandon Park) 77 75, Mark Shanahan (Castlemartyr) 77 75, Declan King (Tramore) 76 76, Robert Neville (The Links Portmarnock) 76 76,  Jamie Knipe (Royal Portrush) 76 76,  Robert Moran (Castle) 76 76,  Colm Crowley (Woodbrook) 75 77,  Matthew Grehan (Tullamore) 75 77     

153 Paul Carey (Nenagh) 78 75, Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) 77 76, Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin) 77 76

154 Ian Lynch (Rosslare) 81 73, Declan Reidy (Co. Sligo) 77 77, Peter Kerr (Royal Portrush) 76 78, Shane Hogan (Nenagh) 75 79

155 Gary Ward (Kinsale) 81 74, Stephen Walsh (Portmarnock) 80 75, Thomas O’Connor (Athlone) 79 76

Non qualifiers

155 Colm Hughes (Galway) 77 78, Dave Lowry (Corballis Links) 76 79, Graham Nugent (Kilkenny) 76 79, Conor Purcell (Portmarnock) 73 82

156 Paul Burke (Mullingar) 81 75, P. O'Sullivan (Bray) 79 77, Ted Collins (Dun Laoghaire) 77 79, David McDonald (Old Conna) 77 79, Jamal Sabir (Moate) 74 82

157 James McVicker (Knock) 81 76, Colin Woodroofe (Blainroe) 79 78, Stefan Greenberg (Tandragee) 74 83

158 Ross Kenny (Millicent) 83 75, Sam Sweeney (USA) 80 78, Shaun O'Connor (Luttrellstown Castle) 79 79, Billy McGarry (Nenagh) 78 80, Hugh Foley (The Royal Dublin) 77 81, John Conroy (Portmarnock) 76 82, Colin Cunningham (Carton House) 76 82, Eoghan Long (Monkstown) 75 83

159 Stephen Brady (Galway) 85 74, Steffan O'Hara (Co. Sligo) 81 78, Shane Kearney (Esker Hills) 80 79

160 Cathal Butler (Kinsale) 81 79

161 James Monaghan (The Royal Dublin) 79 82

163 Kyle Dunne (Rosslare) 82 81

165 Gavin Flanagan (Mullingar) 83 82, Gareth Mann (Tullamore) 82 83, R. McKinley (Mullingar) 80 85

166 Neville Steedman (European) 84 82, David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) 80 86

167 N. Pratt (USA) 80 87

168 Cillian Moloney (Fota Island) 87 81, Conor Byrne (USA) 85 83

DQ Michael Buggy (Castlecomer) 75 DQ, 

WD Colm Crowley (Woodbrook) 75 77, Colin Fairweather (Knock) 68 80, Aaron Grant (Dundalk) 74 WD, Stephen Kinch (Hollystown) 82 WD.