Ryan and Butler lead as just five shots cover top 31 at Irish Close

All to play for in Tullamore over 36 holes on Sunday

Tullamore Golf Club is hosting this year’s Irish Close. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Tullamore Golf Club is hosting this year’s Irish Close. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Just five strokes cover the top 31 on the leaderboard heading into Sunday’s final 36 holes of the AIG Irish Men’s Amateur Close at Tullamore Golf Club.

While there was a six-way tie for the lead after Friday’s opening round, just two men share top spot heading into the final two rounds after Thurles’ Aaron Ryan and Kinsale’s Cathal Butler fired two-under 68s to share the lead on four under par.

They’re one stroke ahead of a four-man group featuring Powerscourt’s David Shiel, internationals Keith Egan from Carton House and Castle’s Robert Moran and Enniscorthy’s Paul Conroy, who carded a best-of-the-week, five-under-par 65.

Conroy made five birdies and a bogey in an outward 31 before picking up another shot at the 14th in an error-free back nine, continuing a rich vein of form that has seen him reach the semi-finals in the South of Ireland Championship and tie for third in the Mullingar Scratch Trophy in the past fortnight.

“I knew there was a low round out there today when the rain died down,” Conroy said. “I hit it closer than I did on Friday and holed a few more putts. It’s wide open going into Sunday. I knew I needed a low round today.”

Joint-leader Ryan had five birdies in his 68 on a day of almost no wind and in persistent moderate rain with heavier outbursts as he set the target at 136 before he was joined by Butler, who is five under for the front nine and just one over for the demanding homeward stretch.

“I’m taking care of those holes well,” he said of the first nine. “I’m playing conservatively on the difficult holes. There are some tricky holes. I’m happy with how I’m playing, and I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Powerscourt’s Shiel is a surprise contender but after rounds of 69 and 68, he’s clearly playing well.

“I played great today,” said Shiel, who finished before some of the heavier showers. “I’ve been working really hard on my game in the past year. It’s all about focusing on my own game tomorrow and taking it shot by shot.”

Castle’s Robert Moran birdied the fourth, eagled the seventh and birdied the 10th to get to seven under but finished bogey, bogey, double-bogey for a 70 to share third with Conroy, Shiel and Egan, who had three birdies and three bogeys in his 70.

A group of seven players share seventh on two under including 2008 champion Paul O’Hanlon, 2020 Irish Boys champion Sam Murphy and former Irish Amateur Open champion Peter O’Keeffe.

O’Hanlon who won the Close at Belvoir Park in 2008, can become the first player to win the title in a match play and stroke play format, and he’s looking forward to the final day.

“I’ve good memories of Tullamore, having won the Leinster Mid-Am here in June,” he said. “I’m feeling very comfortable out there. Two back is nothing really. The third round will be key in the morning.

“I’m a proper working man now with a baby girl at home, so it’d be the most satisfying win of my career if I was to do it.”

Defending champion Hugh Foley is in a group of three players on one under and still well in contention.

The cut for the top 40 and ties fell at three-over 143 with 51 players making it through to Sunday’s last two rounds which begin at 7am, with the final round set to tee off at 11.45am

Leaderboard

Par 70

136 A Ryan (Thurles) 68 68, C Butler (Kinsale) 68 68

137 P Conroy (Enniscorthy) 72 65, D Shiel (Powerscourt) 69 68, K Egan (Carton House) 67 70, R Moran (Castle) 67 70

138 J Law (East Cork) 71 67, P O’Keeffe (Douglas) 70 68, S O’Connell (Athenry) 70 68, S Murphy (Portumna) 68 70, S Mc Dermott (Slieve Russell) 68 70, P O’Hanlon (Carton House) 68 70

139 A Marshall (Lisburn) 71 68, A Hill (Athenry) 69 70, H Foley (Royal Dublin) 69 70

140 G Bohill (Co Louth) 73 67, M McClean (Malone) 71 69, R Abernethy (Dun Laoghaire) 67 73, J Mc Donnell (Forrest Little) 67 73

141 A Smith (Mullingar) 72 69, J Blake (The Island) 72 69, P Keeling (Roganstown) 72 69, L Abom (Edmondstown) 71 70, R Griffin (Ballybofey & Stranorlar GC) 71 70, A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire) 71 70, M Boucher (Carton House) 71 70, I Lynch (Rosslare) 70 71, S Doyle (Athlone) 70 71, J Egan (Muskerry) 70 71, R Cannon (Balbriggan) 69 72, A Hickey (Galway Bay) 68 73

142 C Rabbette (Esker Hills) 74 68, D McCormack (Corrstown) 72 70, G Dunne (Co Louth) 72 70, K McCarron (North West) 72 70, T Ford (Co Sligo) 71 71, C Harkin (Letterkenny) 70 72, P Coughlan (Castleknock) 67 75, R Halpin (Dun Laoghaire) 67 75

143 S Egan Jr (Tullamore) 76 67, J Fox (Portmarnock) 76 67, D Morgan (Carton House) 75 68, T Dowdall (Woodbrook) 74 69, D Kitt (Athenry) 73 70, D Marshall (Mount Wolseley) 73 70, S Cunningham (Esker Hills) 73 70, B Best (Rathmore) 73 70, E Murphy (Dundalk) 72 71, E Griffin (Waterford) 72 71, R Latimer (Knock) 71 72, C Rafferty (Dundalk) 70 73

Missed cut

144 P Tobin (Douglas) 76 68, J Mackin (Dundalk) 75 69, J Doherty (Carton House) 74 70, M Deasy (Douglas) 73 71, R Galligan (Elm Park) 73 71, L O’Neill (Connemara) 73 71, H O’Hare (Fortwilliam) 73 71, G Collins (Rosslare) 73 71, C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown GC) 72 72, E Farrell (Ardee) 72 72, N Carroll (Athlone) 71 73, J Hood (Galgorm Castle) 71 73, T Finnegan (Co Sligo) 70 74, H Gillivan (Westport) 70 74, M Shiel (Galway Bay) 70 74

145 A Hiney (Moate) 76 69, S Miskelly (Knock) 75 70, C Ryan (Dun Laoghaire) 72 73, R Knightly (Royal Dublin) 71 74

146 S Walker (Roscommon) 76 70, R McCrudden (Royal Portrush) 76 70, M Kennedy (Royal Dublin) 76 70, E Marsden (Tullamore) 73 73, J Whelan (Grange) 72 74, M Cain (Cork) 72 74, E Sullivan (Carton House) 71 75, F Kennedy (The Island) 70 76

147 D Keating (Seapoint) 77 70, J Walsh (Douglas) 75 72, C Plower (Galway Bay) 74 73, T O’Connor (Athlone) 74 73, E O’Donnell (Tralee) 73 74, D Connellan (St Anne’s) 73 74, C Hickey (Dooks) 70 77

148 J Kiely (Castleknock) 75 73, J Lyons (Galway) 73 75, L Nolan (Galway) 73 75, J Hanney (The Island) 73 75, K Murphy (Dun Laoghaire) 70 78

149 K Murray (Arklow) 78 71, S Downes (Royal Dublin) 75 74, K Patton (Lisburn) 75 74, A Mulholland (Castlerock) 74 75, T Plunkett (Crover House) 74 75, K Robinson (Castlewarden) 74 75, A McCormack (Castletroy) 74 75, T Abom (Edmondstown) 73 76

150 L O’Connor (Edmondstown) 77 73, J Fletcher (Warrenpoint) 75 75, D O’Riordan (Fermoy) 74 76, D McNicholl (Westmanstown) 73 77, Q Carew (Edenderry) 72 78

151 N McCann (Lurgan) 79 72, P O’Hara (Kilkenny) 77 74, P Buckley (Cork) 72 79

152 J Boles (Charleville) 80 72, R Walsh Jr (Douglas) 76 76, R Williamson (Holywood) 73 79, S Desmond (Monkstown) 73 79

153 E Stack (Ballybunion) 81 72, D Muldowney (Carton House) 78 75, G Callaghan (Co Louth) 75 78

154 S Kenneally (Kinsale) 80 74, M Giles (Greenore) 78 76, E Shipp (Headfort) 77 77, B Bermingham (Carton House) 75 79

155 S Riordan (Muskerry) 78 77

156 C Cooley (Belvoir Park) 77 79

157 M Kelly (Naas) 77 80, A Collins (Laytown & Bettystown GC) 76 81

158 O O’Brien (Thurles) 80 78

159 J Gibson (Fintona) 81 78, N Hearns (Mountrath) 79 80

160 R McCormack (Palmerstown House Estate) 78 82

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