Gavin Moynihan swings into gear to grab share of Irish Amateur Open lead

Gavin Moynihan might be considered a shoo-in for a second Walker Cup cap but the Dubliner knows he needs to start showing some form to make sure of his place at Royal Lytham and St Annes in September.

That’s why the 20-year-old from The Island was so pleased to open with a three under par 69 at Royal Dublin, one of his favourite stomping grounds, and end the day in a nine-way tie for the lead, one clear of the field.

Winner of the title at Royal Dublin in 2012 and beaten in a playoff by Robbie Cannon the following year, Moynihan made a fine Walker Cup debut alongside Kevin Phelan in 2013.

But after a failed sojourn to the University of Alabama — he returned after a little more than a year there citing home-sickness — he’s struggled to hit top form until yesterday.

Even then it looked as though another good round was about to slip away in benign early conditions as he followed birdies at the second and third with bogeys at the ninth and 10th.

Then came some inspiration in the shape of an eagle three at the 14th

“It’s definitely the best shot of the year so far,” Moynihan said of the towering, 268-yard cut three wood to four feet that restarted his round.

After following his three with birdie at the driveable 16th, he was pleased to end the day tied for top spot with Co Louth teenager Thomas Mulligan, East of Ireland champion Colm Campbell Jnr, Knock’s Colin Fairweather, fellow Walker Cup hopeful Jack Hume from Naas and four overseas players in Scot Alexander Culverwell, Welsh pair Evan Griffiths and Richard James and South Africa’s Luke Trocado ended the day one stroke clear.

“It’s the best I’ve played in a while,” Moynihan added. “I’ve been struggling but it’s not that I have been hitting it that badly, I have just been scoring horrendously — hitting two or three really bad shots a round and all of a sudden you’re four over.

“It’s just one of those phases. It is a long year and you are going to have these periods but it’s nice to be back at Royal Dublin. I always seem to do okay here.”

Faithlegg’s Robin Dawson and Rosslare’s Gary Collins were in a seven-way share of 10th spot with the likes of West of Ireland champion Dermot McElroy and Irish Close winner John Ross Galbraith after excellent, two under 70s while West Waterford’s Gary Hurley was reasonably pleased as he made four birdies and three bogeys a one under 71.

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