Lernihan helps keep Ireland in the hunt
Ireland bounced back from their heavy opening-day defeat by England to beat hosts Wales at Ashburnham yesterday and keep alive their outside chances of a second Home International title in three years.
They take on Scotland today knowing that a substantial victory would give them a chance of the Raymond Trophy should Wales shock England -- it could then come down to a countback of individual points. However, England, after beating the Scots yesterday, are in pole position to retain their crown.
A splendid foursomes performance put Ireland in the driving seat -- they won three and halved one of the five morning matches, the only losers being Alan Dunbar and Luke Lennox, who went down 2&1 to new Welsh caps Jonathan Bale and Nick James.
It was soon evident that Ireland would get sufficient points from the singles to claim victory as Dara Lernihan, Conor Doran and Lennox all swept into early four-hole advantages -- and none of them ever looked like being caught.
Lernihan, the Irish close champion, playing at the top of the order, overwhelmed Rhys Enoch, a quarter-finalist in the British Amateur in June, going five up with six to play and eventually winning 4&3.
Portstewart's Paul Cutler, the Lytham Trophy winner, was made to work hard by Joe Vickery, a former British Amateur semi-finalist, but got home on the final green after a tense battle. Eddie McCormick had to pull out all the stops to get past Nick James, also on the home hole.
Ireland captain Kevin Flanagan had plenty of praise for the way the Irish players responded after the mauling by England. "They gritted their teeth and got on with the job," he said. "Now for Scotland."
Meanwhile, Ulster's Garth McGimpsey stayed in the hunt for the British Seniors Open title on the Old Course at Walton Heath yesterday with another solid round. The former Walker Cup captain and British Amateur champion returned a level-par 72 for a 36-hole aggregate of 142.
He goes into the final round this morning in joint second spot, three strokes behind American Paul Simpson, who fired a 69 yesterday to add to his 70 the previous day. Level with McGimpsey is another American, Danny Yates, the first-round leader.
McGimpsey's highlight was an eagle three at the 512-yard 13th, while he had birdies on three holes going out and two coming home. A double bogey at the 17th spoiled his card a little.
Several Irishmen have been showing up well, with Doneraile's Michael Quirke returning a 70, despite finishing with a bogey, for a 145 aggregate and Portmarnock's Adrian Morrow posting a 71 yesterday for a 147 total.
Tipperary's Arthur Pierse, the 2007 champion, saw his chances of a second title all but disappear when he could do no better than a 76 to add to an opening-round 73.