Dessie Morgan and Cian Geraghty hold joint lead in Lahinch

South of Ireland Amateur Open begins with a two-tier challenge at top of leaderboard

Stroll through the well appointed clubhouse in Lahinch these days and it's easy to feel as though you'd been sucked into a time warp as John Burke and Old Tom Morris compete for wall space with Darren Clarke, John O'Leary, Graeme McDowell and a host of other illustrious winners of the South of Ireland Amateur Open.

While there is a whole division of young guns chasing the title, the smattering of familiar names near the top of the leaderboard was a reminder that this remains a much loved championship despite the move from pure matchplay to 36 holes of strokeplay qualifying this year followed by three days of “mano a mano” combat from Friday.

After a day of fresh south-westerly winds and occasional rain squalls, the old links emerged as the clear winner with 22-year old Cian Geraghty from Laytown and Bettystown joining 34-year old veteran Dessie Morgan of New Forest in a share of the lead with a stunning, two-under 70.


Scores rocketed into the 80s and even the 90s but while some will grumble about pin positions in what was not the prevailing wind, Geraghty’s putter got seriously hot as he joined former international Morgan in the lead, one clear of Connacht interprovincial


Shaun Carter

from Stackstown, Carton House’s

Keith Egan

and Newcastle West’s Andrew McCormack.

Four over after a bogey at the par-five second a triple bogey seven at the third, Geraghty might have been forgiven for heading back to the clubhouse. But despite the tricky wind and the slick greens, he dropped one more shot and made seven birdies.

Out in two over 38 after following a four at the Klondyke and a bogey at the Dell with birdies from 35 feet at the eighth and a foot ninth, Geraghty was then superb on the back nine, cruising home to finish four under 32.

Quite apart from his birdies at the 12th, 14th (20 feet), 17th (25 feet) and 18th (10 feet), he made a great par four into the wind at the 10th and saved par from 20 feet at the 11th.

‘Triple bogey’

“I had a 67 in the West this year after a bad first round but considering I was four over after the triple bogey at the third, I was very happy with the way I came back today,” said Geraghty. “And I really got the putter going.”

Morgan, who is now the general manager at New Forest Golf Club after a lifetime playing out of Mullingar, was massively surprised by what he found on his first appearance in the South for seven years.

"I haven't played at Lahinch since 2008 and even the colour of the clubhouse has been transformed," he said, referring to the changes carried out since general manager Paddy Keane came on board at the end of 2011.

“Lahinch just oozes class and you can feel it from the moment you arrive. The new manager and the staff have done an enormous job to bring the club right back to the top.

‘Different place’

“It’s like walking into a different place.”

Morgan, now 34, has yet to win a championship.

But three top-threes in the East and runs to the quarter-finals in North and South and to the final of the West in 2008, where he lost to Shane Lowry, are a testament to the quality of his game.

“I wouldn’t go to the championships if I didn’t feel I could win or at least compete but it’s also a great chance to catch up with old friends too,” he said after making three birdies and just one bogey.

“The winning of the South wouldn’t be my top priority this week, but you never know.”

South of Ireland Amateur Open, Lahinch GC (Par 72) (Clubhouse scores, 36-hole strokeplay qualifying, Round One)

70 Des Morgan (New Forest), Cian Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown)

71 Andrew McCormack (Newcastle West Golf Club), Shaun Carter (The Royal Dublin), Keith Egan (Carton House Golf Club)

72 Eddie Power (Kilkenny Golf Club), Jeff Hopkins (The Royal Dublin), Paul McBride (Island), Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene Golf Club)

73 Barry Daly (Edmondstown Golf Club), William Hanna (Warrenpoint Golf Club), Mark Morrissey (Mount Wolseley Golf Club), Robert Cannon (Balbriggan Golf Club), Sean Poucher (Limerick Golf Club)

74 Eanna Griffin (Waterford), Simon Bryan (Delgany Golf Club), Michael O’Kelly (Limerick Golf Club), Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock), Colm Campbell Jnr (Warrenpoint Golf Club), Mark MacGrath (Limerick Golf Club), Paul McCarthy (Mallow Golf Club), Robert Farrell (New Ross Golf Club), Neil McKinstry (Cairndhu Golf Club), Colin Fairweather (Knock), Steffan O’Hara (Co. Sligo Golf Club)

75 Gerard Dunne (Co Louth Golf Club), Pat Murray (Limerick Golf Club), Stephen Healy (Carton House Golf Club), Declan McInerney (Lahinch Golf Club), Mark Mullen (Rosslare Golf Club), Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin), Michael Buggy (Castlecomer Golf Club), Stuart Bleakley (Shandon Park Golf Club), Sean Ryan (The Royal Dublin), Kevin Power (Kilkenny Golf Club)

76 Thomas O’Connor (Athlone Golf Club), Gary O’Flaherty (Cork Golf Club), Gary Collins (Rosslare Golf Club), Michael Reid (Galgorm Castle Golf Club), Justin Kehoe (Limerick Golf Club), Paul Murphy (Rosslare Golf Club), Marc Nolan (Delgany Golf Club)

77 Stuart Grehan (Tullamore Golf Club), Jack Pierse (Portmarnock), Shane Whooley (Muskerry Golf Club), Sean Walsh (Carton House Golf Club), David Finn (Doneraile Golf Club), Ally Purdy (Ballyclare Golf Club), Rob Brazill (Naas Golf Club), Darragh Hogan (Killeen Castle), John Greene (Portmarnock), Ian Spillane (Mallow Golf Club), Gareth Lappin (Belvoir Park Golf Club), Robbie Pierse (Grange), Jonathan Breen (Kirkistown Castle Golf Club), Greg Mungovan (Headfort Golf Club), Mark Timmins (Coollattin Golf Club), Jamie Sutherland (Galgorm Castle Golf Club), Stephen Barker (Mourne)

78 Ted Collins (Dun Laoghaire Golf Club), Gary McGrane (The Royal Dublin), Brian Doran (Palmerstown Stud), Tommy O’Driscoll (Killarney Golf Club), Eoghan Long (Monkstown Golf Club), Stephen Watts (Cairndhu Golf Club), Ben Corfee (USA), Colm Crowley (Woodbrook Golf Club), Rowan Lester (Hermitage Golf Club), Daniel Brennan (Shannon), John Hickey (Cork Golf Club), Michael Reddan (Limerick Golf Club), Conor Coyne (Youghal Golf Club)

79 Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin), Dylan Brophy (Castleknock), Gary McDermott (Carton House Golf Club), Richard Bridges (Stackstown Golf Club), John Conroy (Bray), Graham Nugent (Kilkenny Golf Club), Thomas Neenan (Lahinch Golf Club), Seamus Cullen (Slieve Russell Golf Club), James Monaghan (The Royal Dublin), Alan Lowry (Esker Hills), Nicky Duggan (Dromoland Golf Club), Tristan O’Rourke (Nenagh Golf Club), Declan King (Tramore Golf Club), Jamie O’Shea (Shannon), Gavin Smyth (Clonmel Golf Club)

80 James Sugrue (Mallow Golf Club), Alan Purcell (Adare Manor Golf Club), Peter Kane (Ashbourne), Shane McGlynn (Carton House Golf Club), Liam Hutchinson (The Royal Dublin), Niall Gorey (Palmerstown Stud), David Reddan (Nenagh Golf Club), Dan Murphy (Portarlington Golf Club), Ryan O’Doherty (Enniscrone Golf Club), Tony Cleary (Woodstock Golf Club)

81 Karl Purcell (Dun Laoghaire Golf Club), Paul Buckley (Kanturk Golf Club), David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown), Daniel Holland (Castle), Sean Alley (Co. Tipperary Golf Club), Peter Sheehan (Ballybunion Golf Club), Matthew McClean (Balmoral Golf Club), Colin Woodroofe (Blainroe Golf Club), Pat Fitzpatrick (Kanturk Golf Club), Liam Grehan (Mullingar Golf Club), Conor O’Rourke (Naas Golf Club)

82 Keith Murphy (Charlesland Golf Club), Dale Jackson (Massereene Golf Club), Shane Hogan (Nenagh Golf Club), Paul O’Sullivan (Bray), David McMahon (Tralee Golf Club), Daniel Hallissey (Muskerry Golf Club), Sean Doyle (Athlone Golf Club), Ryan Long (Cairndhu Golf Club), Mathew Kane (Whitehead Golf Club), Eoghan O’ Loughlin (Spanish Point Golf Club), Jake Whelan (Newlands), Philip Spratt (West Waterford Golf Club)

83 John Reynolds (Dungarvan Golf Club), Ruairi O’Connor (Co. Sligo Golf Club), Aaron Moore (Adare Manor Golf Club), Karl McCormack (Portarlington Golf Club), Peter Meaney (Cahir Park Golf Club)

84 Jack McDonnell (Forrest Little.), Jamie Fletcher (Warrenpoint Golf Club), Gavin McKenna (Fortwilliam Golf Club), Stephen Walsh (Portmarnock)

85 Kelan McDonagh (The Royal Dublin), Keith Daniels (Loughrea Golf Club), Scott Campbell (Ballyclare Golf Club), Dean McMahon (Castletroy Golf Club), Ronan O’Grady (Tullamore Golf Club)

86 Tom Griffin (Crews Hill Golf Club)

87 Paul O’Neill (Shannon)

88 Brian Gilligan (Woodstock Golf Club), Bob Loftus (Lahinch Golf Club)

95 Ronan Mullane (Dromoland Golf Club)