Hopes of home winner still burn brightly in West of Ireland
 Barry Anderson closes out his third round win over Jordan Hood at County Sligo's 18th

Barry Anderson closes out his third round win over Jordan Hood at County Sligo's 18th

Royal Dublin's Barry Anderson, the 26-year old Rosses Point native, will be bidding to keep alive his dream of becoming the first home winner of the West of Ireland Championship since 1950 when takes on Newlands' Jake Whelan in the semi-finals at County Sligo on Tuesday.

A long-standing member of County Sligo until this year, Anderson beat David Brady by one hole when the home player overshot the 18th green and couldn't get up and down for par having brilliantly levelled the match with a gutsy par four at the 17th.

Whelan, 21, reached the semi-finals of the Irish Amateur Close at Ballyliffin last year but believes he's learned from his defeat to John Ross Galbraith and can go one better by reaching the final

He was impressive against Carton House's Gary McDermott in his quarter-final, beating the Ballincar native 4 and 2.

In the other semi-final, Tandragee's William Small will meet Portmarnock's Jack Pierse after he birdied the 18th to beat Naas' Robert Brazill by one hole in a tight quarter-final.

A 20-year old dairy farmer playing in his first "West", flame-haired Small is bidding to become the second Tandragee winner and follow in the footsteps of 2002 champion Stuart Paul.

Pierse, a 26-year old accountant, was superb from tee to green as he beat Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty 2 and 1.

He's trying to put the Pierse name on the famous old trophy for the third time following wins for his uncle Arthur Pierse, the former Walker Cup player, in 1980 and 1982.

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Hopes of a first home winner for 67 years remain very much alive after Gary McDermott, Barry Anderson and David Brady battled their way into this afternoon's quarter-finals of the Radisson Blu sponsored West of Ireland Amateur Open at County Sligo.

Bright skies and a light but cold 10mph north-west wind made for perfect conditions at Rosses Point.

And they certainly suited the locals with three Sligo men making it through to this afternoon's quarter-finals — all of them in the bottom half of the draw.

Carton House's McDermottt and Royal Dublin's Anderson are no longer members of the club. But having grown up in the village and with family still living in Ballincar, they are very much regarded as part of the local challenge alongside Brady, who was a key member of County Sligo's AIG Senior Cup winning squad last year.

"I am hardly playing any golf at all," said 35-year old bank official McDermott, who came back from two down after 10 holes to beat Balbriggan's Robbie Cannon 3 and 2.

"I am married with a child now and I came down here with no expectations, just taking it as a holiday and a few enjoyable rounds of golf.

"I am just enjoying my golf and it seems to be working."

Cannon birdied the 10th to go two up but missed a good chance to go three up at the 11th and then saw McDermott, who is battling a neck injury, birdie the next three holes to turn the match around.

The Sligo native then claimed the 15th in par and hit a fine shot to 15 feet at the 16th where Cannon conceded, clinching a 3 and 2 win and a quarter-final meeting with Newlands' Jake Whelan, who beat Royal Dublin's Hugh Foley 2 and 1.

The winner will play Anderson or Brady in Tuesday morning's semi-finals and both men are playing well.

Anderson produced one of the surprises of the championship so far when he beat Irish Close champion Alex Gleeson with a birdie on the 21st in the first round before seeing off Jordan Hood on the 18th in this morning's third round.

Relieved to get over the line after a three-putt bogey at the 17th opened the door for Hood, the Dublin-based account feels less pressure now that he did when he was flying the Co Sligo colours as a member.

"It was nice to get over the line," said 26-year old Anderson who was two up with two to play. "As I live in Dublin now I only get home one a month or every five weeks for a game with the lads, paying a green fee.

"Hopefully in the next few years I can come back, but it is 8-6 in work and my golf is very limited.

"This is probably the most relaxed I have been coming into the West because I am putting no pressure on myself. Everything is a bonus and I am nice a calm out there. 

"I put a lot of pressure on myself in the past, bigging it up too much in my own head so I have come in with a relaxed attitude and it makes it more enjoyable. 

"I don't get too down over the bad shots and the good ones are more enjoyable. And I still have family connections and a strong connection to the club having been a member since I was 14."

He faces a tough quarter-final against Brady, who romped to a facile 6 and 4 win over Dundalk qualifier Eoin Murphy.

Having shot a 64 in the first qualifying round in 2014 and earned a spot on the Irish Development panel that year, Brady certainly has the pedigree to make a run at the title.

In the top half of the draw, 20-year old Robert Brazill from Naas had a hard-fought two-hole win over 17-year old qualifier Robert Abernethy from Dun Laoghaire and now meets Tandragee's William Small, who cruised to a 5 and 4 win over Nenagh's David Reddan.

Leinster interprovincial and Irish Development panellist Caolan Rafferty looks like one of the big dangermen in the top half following his come from behind two-hole win over Dun Laoghaire's Colin Woodroofe.

Two down with four to play, Rafferty birdied the 15th, 16th and 17th to go one up but he has a tough assignment against Portmarnock's Jack Pierse in the quarter-finals.

The winner of last year's Kerry Scratch Cup and the recent Dublin Scratch Foursomes at Grange with his brother Robbie, he is also a nephew of two-time West of Ireland champion Arthur Pierse.

Runner-up in last year's Mullingar Scratch Trophy and a member of the final group in the East of Ireland Championship, where he tied for 11th behind Paul O'Hanlon, the 26-year old account is a straight-hitter who makes few mistakes.

A one-hole winner over Stephen Healy, Pierse will be bidding for a place on the Munster interprovincial team this year.

He has just returned from a working holiday in New Zealand having teamed up with Geoff Lenehan to give Portmarnock victory over Royal Melbourne in the  12th biannual World Club Championship in Thailand last December.

West of Ireland Amateur Open Championship, County Sligo GC.

Semi-finals — Tuesday, April 18

  1. (08:00) William Small (Tandragee) v Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) 
  2. (08:15) Jake Whelan (Newlands) v Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin).

Final to follow. 

Quarter-finals

  1. William Small (Tandragee) bt Robert Brazill (Naas) 1 hole;
  2. Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) bt  Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk)  2/1;
  3. Jake Whelan (Newlands)  bt Gary McDermott (Carton House) 4/2
  4. Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin) bt David Brady (Co. Sligo) 1 Hole.

Third Round - Monday, April 17

  1. Robert Brazill (Naas) bt Robert Abernethy (Dun Laoghaire) 2 holes;
  2. William Small (Tandragee) bt David Reddan Jnr (Nenagh) 5/4;
  3. Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) beat Colin Woodroofe (Dun Laoghaire) 2 holes;
  4. Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) bt Stephen Healy (The Royal Dublin) 1 hole;
  5. Jake Whelan (Newlands) bt Hugh Foley (The Royal Dublin) 2/1;
  6. Gary McDermott (Carton House) bt Robert Cannon (Balbriggan) 3/2;
  7. Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin) bt Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) 1 hole;
  8. David Brady (Co. Sligo) bt Eoin Murphy (Dundalk) 6/4.

Quarter-finals - Monday, April 17

  1. 13:15 Robert Brazill (Naas) v William Small (Tandragee)
  2. 13:30 Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk)  v Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) 
  3. 13:45 Jake Whelan (Newlands) v Gary McDermott (Carton House)
  4. 14:00 Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin) v David Brady (Co. Sligo).