A HOST of Irishmen, including British Amateur champion Alan Dunbar, look set to keep their European Tour hopes alive going into today's final round of first-stage qualifying.
At Wychwood Park in Cheshire yesterday, Dunbar couldn't repeat Wednesday's brilliant 66 and had to settle for a three-over-par 75, but that still keeps him just outside the top 10 -- the best 23 plus ties advance.
Jonathan Caldwell (68), Barrie Trainor (70) and David Higgins (69) all overtook Dunbar, with Waterville's Higgins tied fourth on two-under with 18 holes left.
Two more Irish golfers, Cian Curley (73) and Bushfoot's David Jones (70), are also looking good for qualification on one and two-over respectively.
Old Conna's Donal Gleeson also made the cut after a 73 but is up against it to qualify, while Paul Cutler (78), Royal Portrush amateur Matt McAlpine (73), Graeme Dunlea (82), and Nick Brennan (82) are out.
In Fleesensee in Germany, Royal Dublin's Niall Kearney shot a one-over round of 73 for a share of 26th place, with the top 24 plus ties going through at the end of today's last round.
The Heritage's Stephen Grant carded a 72 yesterday to make the cut but is currently five strokes off qualifying; Shane Franklin of Athenry bowed out with a 76.
England run riot to deny off-colour Irish
Ireland were denied a fifth consecutive senior men's Home International title at Southerndown in Wales yesterday by a much-improved England outfit.
England beat them 6-3 after taking all three foursomes, so Ireland had to be content with the runners-up spot.
In the top two singles neither former British Seniors champion Arthur Pierse nor past Walker Cup captain Garth McGimpsey were on form.
John Ambridge was always in the driving seat against Pierse and won 4&3 and McGimpsey fell behind early on against Andrew Stracey and couldn't peg him back.
European Seniors champion Adrian Morrow and Michael Coote both triumphed out in the country, while Maurice Kelly and John Mitchell halved their games.
Gutsy Jones hot on leader's trail
Helen Jones defied the windy conditions at Hunstanton on the Norfolk Coast yesterday to move into a challenging position in the British Senior Women's Championship.
The Irish Close champion from Royal Portrush fired a three-over-par 78 to grab second spot a mere stroke behind leader Rocio Ruiz de Velasco from Spain with one round remaining.
She is on 157 after being one of the few players to break 80 as she continued a remarkable season in which she has won the Close and was not far away in the Irish Open.
Donabate's Pat Doran, runner-up last year, is four off the pace after a spirited 79.