O'Hanlon aims to chase down Woodroofe in back-to-back bid at Baltray
Carton House's Paul O'Hanlon believes he has the experience to become the first man to win back-to-back East of Ireland titles since Raymie Burns 24 years ago.
The 32-year-old Kildare man completed a wire-to-wire win 12 months ago in his first championship start since he regained his amateur status after four years on the mini tours.
Now he's hoping to become the first since Burns in 1993 to successfully defend the title and he has a great chance after a superb third-round 69 left him alone in second place on three-under par, just two strokes behind Dún Laoghaire's Colin Woodroofe.
With a 15-20 mph south-west wind making a firm County Louth a tricky test - the field averaged 75.75 yesterday - O'Hanlon followed a bogey at the 11th with three birdies in a row from the 13th to turn in two-under.
He then rolled in a 60-footer for eagle at the third when his attempted lay-up snuck through the gap and rolled down to the edge of the green, before following a birdie at the sixth with a bogey at the seventh.
Experiences "Having won this before it's not like I'm feeling, 'Wow, this is my only chance'. But I'd love to go back to back," O'Hanlon said. "That would be cool.
"I play golf now just to have good experiences and to do something that hasn't been done for while would be special ."
Woodroofe (22) birdied the par-five third and sixth going out and then bogeyed the 10th and 16th coming home as he carded a level-par 72 for a two-shot lead on five-under par.
And he's hoping that he continues to putt as well having holed a string of crucial par putts including a six-footer at the eighth, a 10-footer at the ninth, a 20-footer at the 12th and 10-footers at the 14th and 15th.
"I hit it better on the front nine and turned in two-under but my putter was really saving me on the back nine," the former Blainroe man confessed.
"Once I got started today the nerves went away so hopefully I can do it tomorrow.
"I will just try to stick to my pre-shot routine and if I can keep my putting going, that will be key."
As Jack Pierse shot 76 and fell back to two-over, fellow Portmarnock man Geoff Lenehan got to four-under for the day with three to play but bogeyed the 16th and 18th for a 70 to sit alone in third on level-par.
Pierse's brother Robbie (71) shares fourth on one-over - six off the lead - with Kinsale's John Murphy (71) and Hilton Templepatrick's Reece Black (70).