Saturday 25 November 2017

McNamara keeps his cool to lead Ireland's charge into last eight

Ireland swept impressively into the quarter-finals of the European Amateur Team Championships at Silkeborg in Denmark yesterday and will now play seventh-placed qualifiers the Netherlands in the first match play contest today.

They finished second in the qualifying phase on 741 – 21-over, six shots behind leaders France – and can aim to reclaim the crown they last held in 2008.

Headfort's Rory McNamara was once again a pillar of strength for the Irish team, adding a one-over 73 to his previous day's tally of two-under. He looked to be faltering after a triple bogey at the second, but he clawed it back to level-par by the 13th with birdies at the seventh, eighth and 11th, only to bogey the penultimate hole.

Youngsters Jack Hume and Gavin Moynihan also carded solid rounds of 73, while Kevin Phelan, who made the cut at the recent US Open, finished on 74. He looked to be cruising before a double bogey at the 13th and bogey at the 17th saw him slip back.

Dubliner Paul Dunne shot a five-over 77, carding a double bogey at the last on consecutive days, while Mourne's Reeve Whitson had a day to forget as he hit seven bogeys and two double bogeys.

Ireland also made it into the last eight in the European Boys Team Championship over the Murcar Links in Scotland – but they had to work hard for their place. They got through in seventh spot with a two-day aggregate of 738 – 28-over-par.

Co Sligo's Sean Flanagan led the way with a splendid three-over-par 73 despite having a double bogey six on the seventh. James Sugrue, Paul McBride and Alec Myles all posted respectable totals of 74, McBride from The Island getting an eagle two on the sixth.

Robin Dawson's 75 also counted, while Irish boys champion Gareth Lappin, who fired on all cylinders on Tuesday, slumped to four double bogeys in his non-counting 84. Ireland face a tough task today when they meet England for a place in the last four.

Elsewhere, Ireland agonisingly missed out on a spot in the last eight of the European Ladies Team Championship at Fulford in York despite a stunning four-under-par 68 by former British champion Stephanie Meadow.

With five cards counting on each of the two stroke play qualifying days, Ireland posted an aggregate of 30-over-par 750, just one shot behind eighth placed Austria.

Irish champion Paula Grant had two double bogeys in her 77, while Maria Dunne had a 78. Lisa Maguire also recorded 78 and her sister Leona 79, while Chloe Ryan was way out of the reckoning with 87.

Meanwhile the second round of the European Girls Team Championship at Linkoping in Sweden was cancelled because the course was flooded.

Totals recorded on the first round on Tuesday counted for flight qualification – this meant Ireland had no chance as they were in 15th position. Today they face the Czech Republic as they start their quest for ninth spot.


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