Purcell leads charge as Ireland set pace in Sweden
Ireland's hopes of ending their 10-year drought at the European Amateur Team Championships were given a boost yesterday with a round of five-under 67 from Portmarnock's Conor Purcell helping them storm into an early lead.
Ireland's last win in the event came in 2008 when Shane Lowry backboned the side that successfully defended the title in Turin. And the boys in green are well placed to qualify as they share top spot with England on nine-under par at Ljunghusen Golf Club in Sweden.
Purcell had five birdies and an eagle two at the 17th in his 67 as Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty shot a 69 and amateur champion James Sugrue a 70.
Elsewhere, Ireland sit eighth behind Germany after the opening round of the European Boys' Team Championship at Golf de Chantilly in France, where Holywood's Tom McKibbin was the leading contributor with a level-par 71.
The Irish girls' team is also eighth at El Saler in Spain, but the women's team has work to do at Is Molas in Sardinia as they finished the opening day ranked 10th in the race for eight quarter-final spots, despite two-under 70s from Annabel Wilson and Lauren Walsh.
Meanwhile, Naas's Robert Brazill led the qualifiers for the North Ireland Amateur Championship at a rain-lashed Castlerock and Portstewart - the event's traditional venue of Royal Portrush out of action ahead of The Open next week.
The senior international panellist followed a four-under 69 at Castlerock with a four-under 68 at Portstewart to edge out Portmarnock's Geoff Lenehan and Athenry's Alan Hill after a countback of their back-nine scores at both venues - the new system recommended by the R&A.
Lenehan shot a five-under 67 at Portstewart, as Hill followed his 67 at Castlerock with a two-under 70. They finished on eight-under 137, two strokes ahead of Portmarnock Links' Gary Cullen, who shot a best-of-the-day 66 on the Strand Links at Portstewart, and Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell who shot 67.
Defending champion Ian Lynch from Rosslare qualified in 27th place after two level-par rounds as the cut off for the top 64 who go through to today's matchplay stages at Portstewart fell at four-over par.
In the Women's and Girls' Interprovincial matches at Mount Wolseley, Munster were on top. They beat Connacht 8-0 in the women's as Ulster saw off Leinster 5.5-2.5, while in the girls' match Munster and Leinster had 5-3 wins over Connacht and Ulster respectively.