McDermott keeps local hopes alive in West of Ireland

He might be the last County Sligo man standing, but local hopeGary McDermott welcomes the pressure as he bids to become the first home winner of the West of Ireland Amateur Open Championship for 63 years.

The 31-year-old bank official positively revelled in the arctic conditions at Rosses Point yesterday, defying a 30mph southeast wind and a windchill factor of minus two to cruise into the last 16.

Following a 4 and 2 win over Laytown and Bettystown’s Cian Geraghty, former international McDermott was in sensational form against left-hander Mark Shanahan in a 4 and 3 second round win.

McDermott will face Knock’s Nicky Grant in today’s third round with the winner taking on Muskerry’s Niall Gorey or Irish Boys champion Gareth Lappin, who hit a two iron to six feet at the 19th to beat Irish Amateur Open champion Gavin Moynihan in the morning before beating Royal Dublin’s Sean Ryan 5 and 4 in a scrappy encounter after lunch.

Lappin, who was the only player to make the cut on 159, wasn’t the only 17-year-old to make an impression as his Irish Boys team-mate Paul McBride of The Island saw off Ballymena international Dermot McElroy before beating Co Sligo’s Sean Flanagan on the last to set up a third round match with Carton House’s Shane McGlynn.

The cut fell at 17-over par 159 and despite the freezing conditions, the cream generally rose to the top, with Spanish Amateur Open winner Reeve Whitson beating Stackstown left-hander Richard Bridges 3 and 2 in the afternoon to set up a last 16 match with English visitor Henry Featherstone.

Defending champion Harry Diamond had big wins over Aaron Kearney and William Hanna to clinch as third round match with Newlands’ Andrew Hogan while Forrest Little’s Eoin Arthurs had to eagle the 21st to beat Rowan Lester in the morning before beating Jonathan Yates, the vanquisher of RIchard O’Donovan in round one, by 5 and 5.

Arthurs will now face Faithlegg’s Robin Dawson, who had a surprising 4 and 2 win over South of Ireland champion Pat Murray in the second round. But there were not problems in the bottom half of the draw as leading qualifier Rory McNamara, former winner Rory Leonard, international Gary Hurley and Rathsallagh’s Jack Hume all won.

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