Friday 24 November 2017

Schoolboys cause a stir at wind-swept West

Current international John Ross Galbraith. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Current international John Ross Galbraith. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Brian Keogh

Schoolboy qualifiers Robert Abernethy and Eoin Murphy can still meet in tomorrow's final after the West of Ireland Amateur Open Championship was blown wide open at County Sligo.

Leading qualifier Conor O'Rourke, defending champion Jonathan Yates and current internationals John-Ross Galbraith, Alex Gleeson, Tiarnan McLarnon and Colin Fairweather were all frozen out in an icy west wind that gusted to 35mph.

O'Rourke beat Waterford's Eanna Griffin 4&3 but then fell 3&2 to gritty 17-year-old qualifier Abernethy from Dun Laoghaire.

A fifth-year student at Blackrock College, the 2014 Leinster U-15 champion had so little belief in his chances that he travelled west for Wednesday's 18-hole pre-qualifier with just one change of clothes.

Five days later he finds himself facing Naas' Robert Brazill for a place in the quarter-finals.

"I wasn't even expecting to get through the pre-qualifier, to be honest," said Abernethy, who was relieved to see his parents Bronagh and Colum turn up with a fresh supply of warm clothes.

Galbraith was two up with two to play against Michael Ryan from New Ross, who finished par-birdie to force sudden-death and then birdied the 19th to put him out before losing 6&5 to Stephen Healy.

Defending champion Yates fell 2&1 to Hugh Foley (19) from Royal Dublin as strapping 17-year-old Dundalk talent Murphy surprised McLarnon 6&5 before going on a run to beat Richard Knightly and reach the last 16.

A powerful talent, Murphy now faces County Sligo's David Brady - an 18th-green winner over Alan Lowry.

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