Mullarney and Sugrue keep home fires burning in Amateur
Galway's Ronan Mullarney and Mallow's James Sugrue admit they cannot dare to dream of an all-Irish title decider just yet after battling their way into the quarter-finals of The Amateur Championship at Portmarnock.
A courageous Sugrue (22) fought back from three down with four to play in his third round match with Swede Christoffer Palsson, winning the last four holes to squeak through before easing to a 5&3 win over Spaniard Sergio Parriego in the last 16.
Mullarney (23) cruised to a 4&3 win over Sweden's Ludvig Aberg in the morning, but despite his tactical talents, he had to sweat to beat England's Matty Lamb with a gutsy par at the 18th having raced five up with seven to play.
"It's a feeling of relief, absolutely," said Mullarney, who knows he cannot afford to think about winning a spot in The Open and next year's Masters and US Open as he faces England's Ben Jones in the last eight with the winner to take on the victor in the all-Scottish clash of Euan Walker and Sandy Scott.
"It's brilliant to have two Irish players in the quarter-finals. There are plenty of matches left to be played and I can't look too far ahead to the prizes that come for the winner at the end of this championship."
Sugrue meets the Netherlands' Koen Kouwenaar and while he knows he can only meet Mullarney in the final, he's not getting ahead of himself with the tournament favourite, the Australian David Micheluzzi, facing American Cameron Sisk in his half of the draw.
Nice "Myself and Mullarney in the final would be nice," he said. "I don't think that's ever happened and for it to happen in Ireland as well… these are all things that would be going through your head but I'll just try and take every game as it comes."
Meanwhile, Clandeboye's Jessica Ross topped the qualifiers in the Irish Women's Close at Woodbrook, carding rounds of 70 and 73 to edge out Curtis Cup player Paula Grant and teenagers Annabel Wilson and Lauren Walsh by two strokes on five-under par.