Storm blows strong Irish challenge off course

Ireland returned to the Glasgow Gailes Links on the Ayrshire coast at the crack of dawn to complete their battle with Scotland in the Men’s Home Internationals after rain halted play last night.

The storms arrived in late afternoon and became so bad just after six o’clock that play was suspended and an hour later it was called off for the day with five games to finish.

Ireland trailed the Scots 5½-4½ but the Irish have very much the upper hand in the incomplete games, being ahead in four of them and level in the other so are favourites to progress to a meeting with Wales who lost 9½-5½ to defending champions England.

Ireland, who last won the Raymond Trophy on Scottish soil at Muirfield in 2008, went down 3½-1½ in the foursomes.

Alan Dunbar, playing at the top of the singles order, won three of the first four holes against Graeme Robertson but then faltered badly and lost 2&1, the same score by which Chris Selfridge went down to Paul Shields.

After that Ireland moved into top gear and Reeve Whitson started well against Paul Ferrier and won 2&1 and Lucan’s Richard O’Donovan was always in the driving seat against Matthew Clark and triumphed 5&4.

West Waterford’s rapidly-improving Gary Hurley was three up after four holes on Scottish champion Grant Forrest and got home on the 17th.

Early on Gavin Moynihan, the Irish open champion who is having such a marvellous season despite still only being 17, was down early on to Scott Borrowman. However, he recovered to be one up with two to play when the rain stopped proceedings. Rory McNamara, the North of Ireland champion, was two up with four to play on Brian Souter after being behind on the outward half.

Nicky Grant was on his way to victory three up with four holes remaining against Fraser McKenna and Kevin Phelan had his nose in front of James White with Harry Diamond level with Jack McDonald.

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