Hickey hits stride to send Hurley packing

Only one member of the Irish team for next month’s Home International Championship turned up for the South of Ireland at Lahinch over the weekend.

And that individual, the highly promising West Waterford youngster Gary Hurley, was knocked out in yesterday’s second round by another of the younger brigade, John Hickey, a son of Peter, the professional at Cork Golf Club.

Hurley had played a significant part in Munster’s fine victory in the Interprovincial Championship that ended at Royal Co. Down on Thursday and may have been feeling the effects. But Hickey played some fine golf and fully earned his place in this morning’s third round against Keith Shannon of Greenore.

Shannon had the distinction of ending the remarkable South of Ireland career of Noel Pyne, the Ennis man competing in the event for an amazing 50th successive year. Pyne came through a tight match on Saturday against his club mate Bob Loftus but had no answer yesterday to Shannon’s commendable level of consistency.

A fine crowd turned up to watch the proceedings and created a great atmosphere, although many were disappointed at the absence of so many of the country’s leading players.

The ‘South’ comes at a very crowded time of the season, all the more so because the prestigious European Individual Championship takes place at Carton House next week offering a coveted place in next year’s British Open to the winner. The situation was not helped by the late withdrawal of a number of players.

Six members of the triumphant Munster team teed it up yesterday and a couple, Hurley and Ian O’Rourke of Cork, are on their way home. O’Rourke was involved in one of the best matches of the day before giving best to Mallow’s Paul McCarthy at the second extra hole. McCarthy now comes up against Stephen Walsh, the defending champion, who enjoyed a 7&6 win over Ian Lynch of Rosslare.

Niall Gorey of Muskerry responded well to the loss of his Ireland team place when winning at the first extra hole against Declan McInerney. Predictably enough, Gary O’Flaherty was fully extended by three-times former Irish Close champion Eddie Power.

It was a totally different matter for Pat Murray, the 41-year-old Limerick Golf Club secretary/manager, who was understandably pleased at finishing off his match against Liam Hutchinson of Royal Dublin with four holes to spare after his exertions in the Interpros.

He goes in search of a first ‘South’ having lost in seven previous semi-finals.

Murray’s opponent this morning is Peter Sheehan, the 1993 ‘South champion.

One of the more interesting members of the Munster team was Geoff Lenehan, a man most closely associated with Portmarnock but who is also a member of Waterville and played a major part in the Interpro victory. He won well yesterday 3&2 against Eanna Griffin from Waterford.

In the last match on the course, John Greene of Portmarnock and Carlow, winner two years ago, lost on the final green to Alan Purdy of Ballyclare.

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