Paul Coughlan leads the way in the West of Ireland

County Sligo’s TJ Ford is looking to achieve a boyhood dream in his home county

Paul Coughlan leads by a stroke after Saturday’s play in Sligo. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

County Sligo’s TJ Ford has been dreaming of winning the West of Ireland since he was eight-years-old, but he knows he can’t afford to get ahead of himself as he goes into the final 36 holes just three strokes behind Castleknock’s Paul Coughlan at Rosses Point.

The 24-year old achieved one of his dreams in July when he captured the South of Ireland title at Lahinch, but the ‘West’ is the Holy Grail and he has a magnificent opportunity on Sunday after he followed an opening 72 with a five-under 66 to share fourth place on four-under.

“It would mean everything,” said Ford, who is in position to win automatic selection for Ireland and his first cap if he remains in the top three in the Bridgestone Order of Merit before the team is picked on Sunday evening. “Even though we are only halfway there, tomorrow is the last day. I will try not to get ahead of myself because it’s been my dream since I was eight-years-old. I will try to suppress those thoughts as much as possible.”

Just nine players are under par after the opening two rounds with 29-year old Castleknock man Coughlan at the head of affairs after he took advantage of ideal conditions and made an eagle and eight birdies in rounds of 67 and 68 to lead by a shot from Royal Dublin’s Hugh Foley on seven-under-par.


“All you can do is play yourself out of today, but I played my game, and the putter was hot,” said Coughlan, who was a beaten semi-finalist in the Irish Close in Galway in 2017. “It would be unreal to win, but I am not going to think that far ahead.

“Inside 20 feet, the putter has been good, so you have to get it in play, hit the greens and hole a few putts. I’ve been struggling with the putter for a while and brought five putters to Lahinch. But I have found one this week and holed 25 footers this morning on 12, 13 and 14.”

Foley won a strokeplay edition of the Irish Close at Rosapenna last year and he’s just one shot behind after rounds of 69 and 67.

“It would be nice to win,” said the Royal Dublin international. “The lack of silverware in the house is depressing, but I won’t think about it until the last six holes.”

The vastly experienced Colm Campbell (34) set the pace with an opening 65 and added a 72 after lunch to lurk just two shots behind Coughlan and claim a place in the final three-ball in just his fourth start this year.

“I played very well in the morning shooting 65 but felt I left one or two out there,” said the former East of Ireland and Irish Amateur Open winner. “That’s probably being greedy, though.

“There’s a long way to go, but if I was lucky enough to be standing here on Sunday evening holding the West, it’d be a nice weekend and a nice one to add to the collection.”

Ford is sure to attract a huge gallery as he goes out in the penultimate group, tied for fourth with Galway’s Liam Nolan on four-under with Athenry’s David Kitt a shot further back.

Royal Dublin's Richard Knightly, Balbriggan's Robbie Cannon and 15-year-old County Sligo Aodhagan Brady are the only other players in the red, tied for seventh on one-under with 15 players within eight shots of the leaders.

West of Ireland Championship, Co Sligo GC (Par 71)

After 36 holes


135 P Coughlan (Castleknock) 67 68;

136 H Foley (Royal Dublin) 69 67;

137 C Campbell (Warrenpoint) 65 72;

138 T Ford (Co. Sligo) 72 66, L Nolan (Galway) 70 68;

139 D Kitt (Athenry) 69 70;

141 R Knightly (Royal Dublin) 72 69, R Cannon (Balbriggan) 71 70, A Brady (Co. Sligo) 71 70;

142 J McDonnell (Forrest Little) 71 71, J Lyons (Galway) 71 71, M McClean (Malone) 70 72;

143 R Abernethy (Dun Laoghaire) 75 68, C Hickey (Dooks) 72 71, A Edwards-hill (Chelmsford) 71 72;

144 S Dowling (The Island) 69 75;

145 K Egan (Carton House) 73 72, T Dowdall (Woodbrook) 73 72, E Sullivan (Carton House) 73 72;

146 A Hickey (Galway Bay) 79 67, E Griffin (Waterford) 77 69, D Brady (Co. Sligo) 75 71, I Lynch (Rosslare) 73 73, M Shiel (Galway Bay) 72 74, J Hewitt (Tandragee) 72 74, J Whelan (Grange) 71 75;

147 A Hill (Athenry) 78 69, C Rafferty (Dundalk) 75 72, T O’Connor (Athlone) 75 72, R Griffin (Ballybofey & Stranorlar Gc) 71 76, A Mulholland (Castlerock) 71 76;

148 T Higgins (Roscommon) 78 70, E McCormack (Galway Bay) 75 73, G Lappin (Belvoir Park) 73 75, S McDermott (Slieve Russell) 72 76;

149 C Hall (Adare Manor) 77 72, S Walker (Roscommon) 77 72, B Anderson (Co. Sligo) 73 76;

150 J Fox (Portmarnock) 79 71, E O’Donnell (Tralee) 77 73, L Cunningham (Galway Bay) 76 74, R McKeever (Castle) 75 75, S Ryan (Royal Dublin) 74 76, R O’Connor (Co. Sligo) 73 77;


152 G O’Neill (Malahide) 79 73, C Dunphy (Killeen Castle) 75 77, P Spratt (West Waterford) 74 78;

153 S Keeling (Roganstown) 77 76, A Smith (Mullingar) 76 77, J Blake (The Island) 75 78;

154 P Keeling (Roganstown) 73 81, E Murphy (Dundalk) 73 81;

155 K Leblanc (The Island) 81 74, P Carey (Nenagh) 81 74, D McCormack (Corrstown) 80 75, L O’Connor (Edmondstown) 78 77, S Desmond (Monkstown) 77 78;

156 R Brazill (Naas) 79 77, D Byrne (The Els Club Dubai) 76 80;

158 O Claireaux (Delamere Forest) 89 69, S McLoughlin (Co. Sligo) 83 75, J Law (East Cork) 78 80;

159 P Cutler (Royal Portrush) 78 81;

167 G McKenna (Shandon Park) 83 84;

Rtd 75 M O Sullivan (Ballyneety);

Rtd 83 L Mulligan (Edmondstown).

Final day tee times

1 07:30/12:30 R O’Connor, S Ryan;

2 07:41/12:41 R McKeever, L Cunningham, E O’Donnell;

3 07:52/12:52 J Fox, B Anderson, S Walker;

4 08:03/13:03 C Hall, S McDermott, G Lappin;

5 08:14/13:14 E McCormack, T Higgins, A Mulholland;

6 08:25/13:25 R Griffin, T O’Connor, C Rafferty;

7 08:36/13:36 A Hill, J Whelan, J Hewitt;

8 08:47/13:47 M Shiel, I Lynch, D Brady;

9 08:58/13:58 E Griffin, A Hickey, E Sullivan;

10 09:09/14:09 T Dowdall, K Egan, S Dowling;

11 09:20/14:20 A Edwards-Hill, C Hickey, R Abernethy;

12 09:31/14:31 M McClean, J Lyons, J McDonnell;

13 09:42/14:42 A Brady, R Cannon, R Knightly;

14 09:53/14:53 D Kitt, L Nolan, TJ. Ford;

15 10:04/15:04 C Campbell, H Foley, P Coughlan.