In brief: Leona in mix for British Open spot
LEONA MAGUIRE gave Irish followers something to cheer about at Royal Belfast yesterday when she finished the opening qualifying round of the Girls British Open Championship among the frontrunners.
The 15-year-old Curtis Cup star returned a two-over-par 72 – just three strokes off the pace and well placed to earn one of the top spots in the draw for the knockout stages today.
However, twin sister Lisa, who collected the Philomena Garvey Trophy as the leading amateur in the AIB Irish Open at Killeen Castle at the weekend, struggled to a 79.
Generally, it was not a good day for the host country, with Amy Farrell and Anna Courtney having the best chances of the rest to qualify, as they returned rounds of 76 and 77 respectively.
Laura McCarthy, a member of the Irish side which took the silver medal in the European Girls Team Championship, had a nightmare 84, which included three double-bogeys and a triple-bogey.
Leading the way after the first qualifying round was France’s Alexandra Bonetti with a 68, one ahead of Korean Julie Yang, who has already captured the Welsh and English Open stroke-play titles this summer.
Irish bid for Boys glory
JUST five days after Ireland won the Boys Home International Championship, members of that victorious team set out today in search of achieving some individual glory.
A strong contingent will be tackling the Kilmarnock (Barassie) and Dundonald Links in Scotland over the next two days, bidding for places in the knockout phase of the British Boys Championship.
West Waterford’s Gary Hurley is the first Irish teenager in action this morning at Kilmarnock, followed by Colm O’Sullivan of Fota Island.
Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy will be the first of the Irish out at Southerness, while Jeff Hopkins of Skerries, the Irish Youths Championship runner-up, also has high hopes of putting in a good display.
JOHN MULDOON will lead Connacht into battle for a third season, although it will be at least October before the inspirational captain is fit to take his men on to the field.
Muldoon, who suffered a broken arm while playing for Ireland against the All Blacks during the summer, is hoping to be back for the glamour friendly against Samoa on November 9 at the Sportsground – the fixture is currently in the latter stages of being finalised.
Eric Elwood’s first match in charge of Connacht will take place on Friday night when they entertain NEC Harlequins, in what will be a dress rehearsal for their meetings later in the season in the Amlin Challenge Cup.