Mullarney top man but Close win is the bottom line
Galway's Ronan Mullarney topped the qualifiers for the second year running, but he insisted that it will mean nothing if he fails to win the AIG Irish Amateur Close at Ballybunion.
The 23-year-old Irish international followed a six-under 65 with a 68 over the Old Course yesterday to top the 64 qualifiers on nine-under (133) - an impressive six shots from Killiney's Eoin Leonard - and claim his second silver medal.
"If it was a stroke play competition, nine-under after two rounds would be more appealing to me," said Mullarney, who has won the Mullingar Scratch Trophy and four collegiate events with Maynooth University, but no 'majors'.
"But it's just about qualifying. I led qualifying in this last year and didn't win it, so hopefully I go a bit better this year. I want to win, I want to win bad."
Challenge Tour professional Cormac Sharvin was the last leading qualifier to go on to win the title, edging out Paul Dunne at Connemara in 2013.
"If I go home at the end of the week and all I got was leading qualifier I'd be disappointed," Mullarney added.
"Hopefully, I'll be lifting the trophy at the end of the week."
Defending champion Robbie Cannon withdrew with illness during Saturday's opening round, but 2018 runner-up Leonard shot 67 to finish second on 139, with Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell third on two-under after a 69.
Links specialists Richard Knightly from Royal Dublin and Portmarnock's James Fox were joint fourth on 141.
The cut for the top 64 fell at nine-over (151) with four of the eight on that mark surviving.
Massereene international Tiarnán McLarnon, the 2015 champion, was the biggest casualty on 152.