Massereene's Tiarnan McLarnon fired a level par 72 to share second place and head the 14-strong Irish contingent bidding to qualify for Friday's matchplay stage of the Spanish Amateur Open championship at a windy El Saler.
Pierre Verlaar of the Netherlands was the only player in the 12-strong field to break par in the race to make the top 32 who will progress on Thursday, carding a three-under-par 69 to lead by three shots from McLarnon and Italy's Giacomo Fortini.
Just seven of the 13 Irishmen are inside the top 30 with Tullamore and Maynooth's Stuart Grehan tied for fourth after a 73.
Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell shares 10th after his 74 with Tramore's Robins Dawson tied 18th after a 75.
Knock's Colin Fairweather and Maynooth University pair, Ronan Mullarney and Kevin LeBlanc shot 76 to find themselves in a 10-man tie for 30th on four-over-par.
Conor O'Rourke (77), Jonathan Yates (79), Alex Gleeson and Mark Power (80) and Sean Flanagan, John Ross Galbraith (81) and Jordan Hood (81) have work to do to make the cut.
Spanish Amateur Open (King's Cup), El Saler (Par 72)
Qualifying - First round
1 Pierre Verlaar (Ned) 69
2 Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) 72, Giacomo Fortini (Ita) 72
T4 Stuart Grehan (Tullamore/Maynooth University) 73
T10 Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) 74
T18 Robin Dawson (Tramore/Maynooth Univ.) 75
T30 Ronan Mullarney (Galway/Maynooth Univ.) 76; Colin Fairweather (Knock) 76; Kevin LeBlanc (The Island) 76
T40 Conor O'Rourke (Naas) 77
T55 Jonathan Yates (Naas) 79
T68 Alex Gleeson (UCD/Castle) 80; Mark Power (Kilkenny) 80
T78 Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo/Maynooth Univ.) 81, John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) 81, Jordan Hood (Maynooth) 81.