Sunday 26 March 2017

Lernihan makes light of shoulder injury to keep title tilt alive

Brian Keogh at Lahinch

Dara Lernihan is thinking big after he cruised into the third round of the South of Ireland Championship at a rain-spattered Lahinch.

The reigning Irish Close champion (23) shrugged off a niggling shoulder injury to rack up an impressive 4 and 3 victory over his Castle clubmate Ronan Burke on a day of fresh westerly breezes at the classic Co Clare links.

And he's determined to go all the way to Wednesday's final to become the first player to complete a Close-South double since US Open champion Graeme McDowell in 2000.

"I've been playing well enough all year but I've been suffering from a bit of a shoulder injury," explained Lernihan, who plans to try for his European Tour card at the Qualifying School later this year.

"I had to pull out of the singles on the last day of the Interprovincials last week and I was about to pull out of this.

"But I had a scan done and I was told that it wouldn't get any worse. Hopefully the shoulder holds up."

survived

Defending champion Robbie Cannon survived a scare when he beat Shane Hogan by one hole, but he's hoping it's a good omen after sending the Nenagh man home at the same stage for the second year in a row.

Most of the seeded players made it through, but it was a day to forget for former West of Ireland champion Joe Lyons, the 2007 runner-up, as he was crushed 7 and 6 by former international Niall Goulding of Portmarnock.

Regarded as one of the most open editions of the South for many years, the biggest surprise of the day came in mid-afternoon when three-time Irish Youths champion Seamus Power (23) fell to Michael McGinley by 2 and 1.

A brother of Ryder Cup hero Paul McGinley, an illustrious winner of the South in 1991, the scratch player from Grange levelled the match when he holed a 25-footer for birdie at the 15th.

He edged in front with a two at the 16th, where he hit a seven iron to eight feet, and then looked on as Power handed him victory at the 17th by driving into the rough and then three-putting for a costly bogey five.

"I've played more golf this year than I have for a while," said 35-year old McGinley, who won the North in 1996 and reached the semi-finals of the South in 2001 where he fell to eventual winner Justin Kehoe.

Six-time semi-finalist Pat Murray of Limerick was in superb form as he beat Tuam's Damien Coyne 5 and 4 in the last match of the day, setting up a clash with teenager Conor Glynn (17), who beat the 1987 champion Barry Reddan (64) by 4 and 3 in a meeting of the oldest and youngest competitors in the field.

Irish Independent

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