Saturday 22 July 2017

Second 'South' in range for Cannon

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

FORMER champion Robbie Cannon is chasing a second South of Ireland championship win in three years after reaching the last four at sun-splashed Lahinch yesterday.

Cannon (32), who confirmed he is playing officially out of Balbriggan in this championship after some confusion on draw sheets this week, faces 21-year-old Stephen Walsh of Baltinglass in the semi-final.

In the other semi-final, Andrew Hogan (23) from Newlands plays 21- year-old Kelan McDonagh (Athlone/ NUIM), last year's beaten finalist.

Cannon, who is the strength and conditioning coach at the Darren Clarke Golf School in Greenmount near Portrush, played out of Laytown & Bettystown when he won this title in 2009. He admits the possibility of meeting 17-year-old Jack Hume of Rathsallagh at some stage did cross his mind. That would have brought master and pupil into opposition, as young Hume attends the school.

imagination

Hume, the youngest player in the championship, caught the imagination when he won his two matches on Monday and then defeated Chris Moulds of Lisburn 2&1 yesterday morning.

The biggest gallery of the quarter-finals watched Hume versus McDonagh in the afternoon, but despite a gritty comeback from being three down at one stage, Hume fell to a birdie-birdie hit by McDonagh on the par-three 16th and par-four 17th to lose by 2&1.

McDonagh, beaten by Carlow's John Greene in the final last year, said: "I was taking nothing for granted against Jack. I totally respect him and I knew what I was going up against. I'm happy to make it to the last day again after last year. People have been coming up to me and saying, 'It's your time,' but I'll be going out there as I have been all week -- with no expectations."

The sunshine and light breezes made for ideal golfing conditions and Stephen Walsh of Baltinglass revelled in them. A relative latecomer to golf -- he only started playing seriously when he was 14 -- Walsh is a Dubliner from Ballinteer.

His link with Baltinglass came from his grandfather, for whom he used to caddy at the Wicklow club.

Apart from his golf, Walsh is also a dab hand with a guitar and proved it by entertaining fellow golfers in a Lahinch pub last Saturday night.

It didn't affect his golf as he's a non-drinker, and he certainly has got his game in tune as he proved with a 5&4 afternoon win over David Ryan (Grange).

Hogan, a former Boys and Youth international who was capped for the senior international team against the MGA, has played consistently through the year so far.

His best performance was to finish second in the West of England stroke- play championship, while in Ireland the closest he came to a final was reaching the last four of the Irish Close in 2009 at Enniscrone, where he lost to eventual winner Pat Murray.

Nicky Grant of Knock pushed Hogan all the way in their quarter-final, before the Newlands man emerged with a win by one hole.

Grant gave him a fright by coming from dormie three down to winning the 16th and 17th, but Hogan steadied the ship to close the game out on the 18th.

DETAILS IN FACTFILE

•Liam Kelly's ALLIANZ-IRISH INDEPENDENT Executive Trophy regional qualifier report from Mount Juliet has been held over

Irish Independent

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