Stack and Hurley keep Munster hopes alive

Dungarvan’s Kevin Stack and West Waterford’s Gary Hurley kept Munster interest alive in the Radisson Blu sponsored West of Ireland Championship at a sun-kissed County Sligo.

Stack and Hurley keep Munster hopes alive

As Limerick’s Pat Murray lost by one hole to his former Irish foursomes partner Joe Lyons in the second round, Hurley beat Conor Doran of Banbridge by one hole in the morning before seeing off Baltray’s Gareth Bohill 3 and 2 in the afternoon to set up a last 16 clash with Portmarnock’s James Fox.

Stack was also impressive as he beat Portmarnock’s Darragh Coghlan 5 and 4 and then edged out Rosslare’s Gary Collins 3 and 1 to collide with one of the fancies in Naas’ Jack Hume today.

On another day of brilliant sunshine, the championship still looks wide open despite the defeat of defending champion Rory McNamara in the first round.

The Headfort man was off colour on the greens and lost 2 and 1 to Dublin schoolboy Jake Whelan of Newlands, who in turn went down by one hole to Stackstown left-hander Richard Bridges.

Leading qualifier Reeve Whitson of Mourne is still the hot favourite to lift the trophy after dodging a bullet in the afternoon.

Two down with two to play to Galway’s Eddie McCormack, Whitson escaped an early exit when he holed a crucial 10 footer for a winning par at the 17th and then birdied the last to force extra holes.

The former Spanish Amateur champion, who threw a four up lead with five to play to lose on the 19th to Niall Gorey in last year’s semi-finals, hit the pin with a 67-yard pitch to win the 18th in birdie and then captured the first extra hole with a par four after McCormack hit his tee shot in deep trouble on the left.

“The putt on the 17th was the first good putt I holed all day,” Whitson said. “I missed a good chance for a half on 16, under-hit it. I had quite a few putts like that. All I wanted to do was go down 18 with a chance.

“It was nice to get a result on the 19th. I’ve lost a few matches in championships in extra holes and it was nice to do it here after losing here on the 19th in the semi-finals last year.”

Whitson will face Royal Dublin’s Jeff Hopkins, who beat Tom Gandy from the Isle of Man by one hole, with the winner of the Whitson-Hopkins match scheduled to meet Co Sligo’s Steffan O’Hara or Bridges in the quarter-finals.

Irish Amateur Open champion Robbie Cannon beat Dessie Morgan 4 and 3 while Lucan’s Richie O’Donovan will take on Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy, who aced the 13th with a seven-iron in the morning as he beat Fota Island’s Keith Crowley 3 and 2. The 21-year old then beat Castle’s Alex Gleeson 3 and 2 in the afternoon.

“I was lucky in the match with Keith because he was coming back at me,” McElroy said. “I honestly can’t believe I am wearing a tee-shirt out there at Rosses Point. We are used to 40 mph winds with hailstones hitting you. It’s 18 degrees! I can’t believe it.”

Lyons now faces 22-year old Conor O’Rourke of Naas, who came back from one down after 17 holes to beat 17-year old Co Sligo boy David Brady on the 19th.

Stack will face the winner of the match between Belvoir Park’s Harry Diamond and Colm Campbell of Warrenpoint with Hurley on course to meet the winner of the match between O’Rourke and Lyons, if he can get past the consistent Fox.

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