Team Ireland's Brian Casey and The Island's Paul McBride shot two-under 70s to trail Welshman Rhys Enoch by four strokes In the wind-lashed Monaghan Irish Challenge at Concra Wood,
Enoch made an eagle and five birdies in a six-under 66 in 30kph gusts to head the field by a shot before play was halted by darkness with five groups still finish.
"There were a few holes where you had to hold on,” said Casey (27), who battled back from three over after three holes to finish the day tied for 15th
“I need something good to happen because I missed out at Q School. I need a good result. I think it’s going to turn around."
Casey (27) is one of seven Irish players playing on Team Ireland funded invitations and he's grateful for their support.
“It was great knowing I had a spot in the field from Team Ireland and not waiting until the last minute to find out,” he said. “I was able to plan my season around this. I remember in 2016, I got a lot of last minute calls and that’s not very enjoyable. I remember one week in France I was a reserve until Thursday morning.”
Gavin Moynihan, Conor O’Rourke and Neil O’Briain are well placed after 72s while Kevin Phelan and Cameron Raymond resume on level par.
John Ross Galbraith, Tim Rice, Niall Kearney and Cormac Sharvin shot 73, Jonny Caldwell and Ruaidhri McGee 74s, Brendan McCarroll and Stuart Grehan 75s and Gary Hurley a 76.
Dermot McElroy lost two balls off the tee and took nine at the last for a 77 to match Luke Donnelly as amateur Tom McKibbin shot 78 and Michael Dallat an 81.
Galbraith is staying with Colm Campbell and McElroy and he too is grateful for the Team Ireland support.
My goal is to make it to the weekend. I want to give myself a chance to get some cash in the pocket. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.
“Team Ireland’s been a massive help this year with the funding the Challenge Tour starts,” he said. “For your first year as a pro, you need that help. I’m thankful for that help.
“I’m staying with my good old pal, Collie Campbell, this week and Dermot [McElroy] is there as well. We’ve a mad house this week. It’ll be good craic.”
As for his form, he said: “The season has been very up and down. I started very well but then I got caught between Challenge Tour and EuroPro through the middle. I still have a chance at the EuroPro Tour Championship to get my Challenge Tour card. It’s been decent enough my first year as a pro. I’m still learning.”