McGrane, Clarke and McIlroy are the bigger names and currently not far off the lead. But, amongst the 23 professionals and four amateurs, a few more contenders emerged yesterday afternoon. Michael Hoey is a Northern Irish professional golfer and following his compilation of a very creditable five under, he expressed delight after scorching home with four birdies.
“I have never played well in this event, so it is just nice to play well. The weather has been great. I am just happy to swing the club well and putt well. The crowd helped towards the end. There is no local support when you are away. I am very hard on myself. I feel good now, I am just back from six weeks off after a virus.”
Barrie Trainor, who turned professional in 2005 after helping his club Warrenpoint win the All-Ireland Barton Shield, came home on two under. Last year in Baltray he had the pleasure of playing the first 36 holes with Shane Lowry. Yesterday, was another dream day for him, returning an impressive 69.
“Hopefully for the rest of the week I can keep this attitude. I love it here. I have played here in the PGA Pro-Am and always got on well. It is in really good nick. I think everybody will be happy with the condition of the golf course. I had a super start. I have one round down and hopefully I will have three to go. Always the aim is to get through the cut and then we can get a wee bit looser and attack a bit more. My dream when I got into the Irish Open through the PGA Irish region last year was to try and mingle with the lads, get a good draw, get some experience, and hopefully then hold it together.
“I had a nice birdie at the second, dropped two shots in a row, and then bogeyed the fourth. I then parred a couple. I had four birdies in a row from seven to 10. Nine was a long putt. The putter is going well and I finished steady. The greens are just the right speed for me. But, they are very slopey and if you hit it in the right part of the green you are fine, but if you leave yourself short, it can go against you. Every time I stood over the ball I believed I could hole it. That makes a big difference.”
Gareth Maybin and Simon Thornton are level par, while Waterville’s David Higgins felt he had not done himself justice with his round of one over.
“I played very up and down. I had it going, I was two under and with the finish here you should be picking up one or two more. So, I let it slip. I hit some bad shots on 12, 13, 14 and 15. I had a lot of birdies, and on a day like today, you should be a good few under par. Tomorrow is another day, I need three under and I am able to do that.”
Cahir Park professional David Ryan hit five bogeys and a double bogey but birded 16 and 17 to come home in four under 75.
There have been better days for Michael Collins and Philip Walton (both +8) while Pat Murray (+7) was going well until he took an eight at the par four 11th.