Galbraith determined to build on momentum
Internationals John-Ross Galbraith and Alex Gleeson are the favourites to meet in the decider but Jake Whelan and Peter Kerr have other ideas ahead of this morning's AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship semi-finals at Ballyliffin.
Whitehead star Galbraith (22) is the only one of the quartet who's tasted senior championship victory before having captured the "Close" in his only appearance at Seapoint two years ago.
The leading qualifier, he's determined to turn what's been an average year into a memorable one by seeing off Newlands' Whelan (22) in the first of this morning's semi-finals over the pristine Glashedy Links.
"I'm looking forward to it and I don't mind that I'm favourite," said Galbraith, who beat Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty 3 and 2 before fighting off fatigue to edge out Delgany's Marc Nolan 2 and 1.
"I like being favourite. And I'd like to go two from two in the Close. It would be quite special after not defending last year."
Whelan clinched the winning point for his former college Maynooth University in last year's pressure-packed AIG Irish Senior Cup final at Carton House
And after beating Kinsale's Cathal Butler 3 and 2 in the morning and t Mount Wolseley's Mark Morrissey 2 and 1 in the quarter-finals, he believes he's got nothing to lose now.
"It'll be a different pressure tomorrow, I've never been in that situation before," said Whelan. "But it'll be a good experience anyway."
Gleeson (22) is hoping to go one better than last year, when he lost to Massereene's Tiarnan McLarnon in the final at Tramore.
And he jumped a huge hurdle yesterday when he beat international team mate Robin Dawson 3 and 2 in steady 25mph winds and heavy back nine rain before going on to eliminate Knock's Colin Fairweather 5 and 3.
The Dubliner faces 18-year old Peter Kerr from Royal Portrush, who was last year's Ulster Boys title and the GUI's Boys' Order of Merit.
Set for St Andrews University later this month, where he will play golf and study chemistry, he believes he has the formula to tame the Glashedy Links.
After a brace of impressive 5 and 3 wins over Belvoir Park's Gareth Lappin and Portmarnock's Geoff Lenehan, Kerr said: "Avoiding the fairway bunkers and staying out of the rough is the key. I have exceeded expectations so far this week, but I want to keep going."