Ronan Mullarney uses local knowledge to good effect in Irish Close

Galway man claims the major scalp of holder Alex Gleeson at Salthill venue

Galway's Ronan Mullarney used his local knowledge to good effect as he defied winds gusting up to 40 kmh to beat defending champion Alex Gleeson and remain on course to become the first home winner of the AIG Irish Amateur Close for 30 years.

While the 21-year-old now faces a tough third round showdown with the in-form Dundalk international, Caolan Rafferty, his intimate knowledge of the Salthill venue must give him a chance of becoming the first player from the host club to win the "Close" since Eddie Power triumphed in Tramore 30 years ago.

“I know where to go and where not to go,” said Mullarney, who was an estimated four-under par to Gleeson’s one over as he won 5 and 4 in high winds and driving rain.

“With some of the pins out there today, local knowledge could have been worth two holes. There is something comforting about knowing where to go and where not to go.”

Four up after eight, Mullarney saw Gleeson chip in for birdie at the ninth to reduce to deficit to just three holes but birdied the 10th to go four up and halved the 12th and 13th in birdie before closing out the match on the 14th.

“I’ve had stars and NBs beside the Close in the calendar,” confessed Mullarney, who lives just a ten-minute drive from the course.

“I’ve been looking forward to this week. It would mean a lot to win this here, but there is a long way to go.”

In the top half of the draw, leading qualifier Peter Kerr from Royal Portrush fell by 2 and 1 to 20-year old Cian Feeney from Co Sligo, who now faces against East of Ireland runner-up Robbie Pierse from Grange.

The winner is due to meet Royal Dublin's Hugh Foley or Warrenpoint's Jamie Fletcher, who beat clubmate, Colm Campbell, 2 and 1

But there are other big names still very much alive.

Tramore's Robin Dawson and Co Sligo's Sean Flanagan also won both their matches and the internationals could meet in today's quarter-finals if they can get past Bushfoot's Owen Crooks and Castleknock's Paul Coughlan respectively.