Knightly has to put friendships aside to progress at South of Ireland

Royal Dublin player beats club-mate Foley and will now face another in leading qualifier Kennedy


The open draw threw up its share of juicy encounters but it was bittersweet for Royal Dublin’s Richard Knightly as he ousted one clubmate only to face another in Saturday’s third round of the weather-delayed South of Ireland Amateur Championship at Lahinch.

The 33-year old Dubliner is on a career break from PwC so he can try to achieve his goal of winning an amateur major and he remained on track after he followed a 4&3 win over Grange’s Jake Whelan with a hard-fought one-up win over reigning Irish Close champion and close friend Hugh Foley on the 18th.

He must now face another fellow Royal Dublin man and the leading qualifier in 19-year-old Max Kennedy and while he’s thrilled to be in the last 16, he knows it will be another difficult match in every sense.

“He’s one of my best mates and we are really close,” Knightly said after ousting Foley in fading light following a three-and-half hour delay for thunderstorms. “Honestly he is just an amazing player. Hugh was really tough to beat and Max will be the same tomorrow.”

Foley led the qualifiers when the South was last played two years ago but while he had his friend two down after six, he had to bend the knee at the 18th.

Knightly, who lost to another Royal Dublin man and close pal Darragh Coghlan in the semi-finals in 2014, won the seventh and 11th to square the match, then lost the 12th to a birdie (having made eagle with his provisional after losing a ball) but birdied the 13th by holing a long-range putt after going to school on the line.

Foley levelled with a scrappy par at the 15th but after halving the 16th in three, Knightly got up and down for par at the 17th to edge in front, then hit a 2-iron to 30 feet at the 18th and lagged dead to clinch the match.

“Obviously it’s not ideal to be playing against your club-mates all the time but everyone in the club is playing well, which is nice, and it’s nice for people to play in the latter stages of a championship,” he said.

As for the prospect of facing Kennedy, who has just returned from his freshman year at the University of Louisville, he expects another battle.

“Max is an awesome player,” he said. “I was really impressed with him when he came back from the States. He’s really sharp and he has a lot of shots I hadn’t seen it before. He seems like he’s gone to the next level and it shows in his scores. You don’t shoot 11 under par for two rounds in qualifying without playing well.”

Kennedy was around in approximately four under when he beat Elm Park’s Jake Foley 4&3 but was all square with Carton House’s Eoin Sullivan when the thunderstorm arrived.

He regrouped after the weather delay and claimed a two-hole win but now faces another tough match in Knightly.

“He’s doing well and he’s taking a bit of time off work to work on his game so I’m not going to take him for granted,” Kennedy said. “You still have to play good golf to win matches around here.”

Connacht strokeplay and North of Ireland champion Alex Maguire from Laytown and Bettystown remains on course for his third championship win of the season after he beat Bray’s Gary Rochford 4&3.

Rochford had earlier ousted the 2019 runner-up and Irish international Keith Egan 2&1.

First round results

M Kennedy (Royal Dublin) bt J Foley (Elm Park) 4&3; E Sullivan (Carton House) bt G Collins (Rosslare) 5&3; H Foley (Royal Dublin) bt D Reddan Jnr (Nenagh) 2&1; R Knightly (Royal Dublin) bt J Whelan (Grange) 4&3; K Murphy (Arklow) bt J Robinson (Lisburn) 2 holes; J Rackard (Enniscorthy) bt J McDonnell (Forrest Litle) 2&1; D McMahon (Castletroy) bt R Galligan (Elm Park) 20th; TJ Ford (Co. Sligo) bt R McNelis (Fintona) 1 hole; S Murphy (Portumna) bt A Mulholland (Castlerock) 20th; C Denvir (Elm Park) bt J Hewitt (Tandragee) 22nd; D Marshall Jnr (Naas) bt C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) 2&1; P Buckley (Cork) bt E Shipp (Headfort) 3&2; C Nolan (Portmarnock) bt D O’Sullivan (Tralee) 4&3; J Hood (Galgorm Castle) bt D Shiel (Powerscourt) 4&3; H O’Hare (Fortwilliam) bt K Crowley (Fota Island) 6&4; S Carroll (Ballybunion) bt L O’Neill (Connemara) 20th; T Plunkett (Crover House) bt T O’Connor (Athlone) 3&1; J Doherty (Carton House) bt A Hickey (Galway Bay) 4&3; A Maguire (Laytown & Bettystown) bt A Kiernan (Forrest Little) 2 holes; G Rochford (Bray) bt K Egan (Carton House) 2&1; M McClean (Malone) bt R Abernethy (Dun Laoghaire) 2&1; R Cannon (Balbriggan) bt C Byrne (Strabane) 4&3; P Conroy (Enniscorthy) bt I Lynch (Rosslare) 2&1; S Walker (Roscommon) bt S Carter (Royal Dublin) 2&1; J Hill (Galgorm Castle) bt M Mullen (Rosslare) 2 holes; R Moran (Castle) bt J Lyons (Galway) 1 hole; P O’Keeffe (Douglas) bt D Kitt (Athenry) 2&1; K McCarron (North West) bt C Butler (Kinsale) 19th; M Boucher (Carton House) bt A O’Callaghan (Tralee) 6&4; A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire) bt C Hickey (Dooks) 6&5; T Dowdall (Woodbrook) bt D Flynn (Carton House) 1 hole; A Marshall (Lisburn) bt S Kenneally (Kinsale) 4&3.

Round two (completed matches)

M Kennedy (Royal Dublin) bt E Sullivan (Carton House) 2 holes; R Knightly (Royal Dublin) bt H Foley (Royal Dublin) 1 hole; K Murphy (Arklow) bt J Rackard (Enniscorthy)19th; TJ Ford (Co. Sligo) bt D McMahon (Castletroy) 4&3; S Murphy (Portumna) bt C Denvir (Elm Park) 2&1; D Marshall Jnr (Naas) bt P Buckley (Cork) 1 hole; J Hood (Galgorm Castle) bt C Nolan (Portmarnock) 4&3; J Doherty (Carton House) bt T Plunkett (Crover House) 4&3; A Maguire (Laytown & Bettystown) bt G Rochford (Bray) 4&3.

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