Leading qualifier Mairead Martin (Kanturk) is safely through to the last 16 at the Irish Women’s Close Championship at Mullingar.
Martin faced 2017 Munster Women’s Champion Paula Walsh (Doneraile) in the first round and got off to a good start, winning three of the first six holes.
Walsh steadied the match but the deficit was too much for her to fight back and the game finished on the 16th green, 3&2 to Martin.
Maria Dunne (Skerries), Ariana Coyle Diez (Elm Park), and Mary Dowling (New Ross) are also through to the last 16, while Ciara Casey (Hermitage) did battle with Anna Dawson (Tramore) which came to ultimatum in favour of the Dubliner on the 15th when Casey produced a short game masterclass over the closing few holes.
Dawson, 14, sister of Men’s International Robin, was delighted to make her first cut at the Close.
“I really enjoyed this morning’s match, I was 2up after 8 but Ciara got up and down so many times on the last few holes and that was hard to beat! I am looking forward now to competing in the Plate matches.”
Junior Vagliano Trophy team member Sara Byrne (Douglas), and girls’ Internationals Valerie Clancy (Killarney) and Rachel Thompson (Cork) will also compete in tomorrow’s last 16 matches, while Paula Grant (Lisburn) and Niamh McSherry (Lurgan) also safely negotiated their first-round matchups.
When speaking about her successful week at the British Ladies Amateur, Grant was adamant that it wouldn’t be a once off good week.
“Last week was great, it gave me the confidence that I can compete with the best and while I lost out to Leona in the quarter finals, you really can’t be disappointed if she goes on to win it out!
“Finishing third was a good start in the qualifiers yesterday and I am just going to keep doing what I am doing over the weekend.”
Last 16 today:
08:30am Mairead Martin (Kanturk) vs. Maria Dunne (Skerries) 08:39 Ariana Coyle Diez (Elm Park) vs. Mary Dowling (New Ross) 08:48 Ciara Casey (Hermitage) vs. Sara Byrne (Douglas) 08:57 Valerie Clancy (Killarney) vs. Eleanor Metcalfe (Laytown & Bettystown) 09:06 Sarah Cunningham (Ennis) vs. Maeve Cummins (Lurgan) 09:15 Rachel Thompson (Cork) vs. Niamh McSherry (Lurgan) 09:24 Paula Grant (Lisburn) vs. Orla Dunphy (Kilkenny) 09:33 Sinead Sexton (Lahinch) vs. Lisa O’Shea (Shannon).
With blustery conditions whipping showers across the Twin Oaks course in Ballina, Co Kildare, the 40-year-old produced a composed display which, given the conditions, was every bit as good as his opening 66.
Starting at the 10th, the Limerick GC man went to the turn in one under par 35, with birdies at the 10th, 13th and 14th undone by dropped shots at the 16th and 17th.
He made no mistakes on his back nine, coming back in four under 36 with birdies at the second, fourth, sixth and eighth.
“In many ways, it was very similar to the opening round. There are plenty of chances out there,” said Rice.
“I have been hitting it quite close; I’m not missing many greens and I’m making the most of the par fives.”
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