Ireland face Scotland at Royal Portrush today in a winner-takes-all battle as they bid to retain their Amateur Home International title for the Raymond Trophy.
Ireland rekindled their hopes of securing back to back successes when they overcame spirited Wales 9.5-5.5 — and then an amazing twist in fortunes at the end of the day put the Scots just ahead in the table.
After a disappointing tie with England on Wednesday the champions needed a comprehensive triumph in their second match to get their defence back on track- and that is exactly what happened.
For most of an enthralling afternoon it looked as though England would pip Scotland but Craig Howie and Conor Syme turned around their games and both won to make it 8-7 to the Scots who had thrashed Wales on the opening day.
Now the Scots have two points, Ireland one and a half and England just a half with Wales facing the prospect of the wooden spoon.
Ireland had to pull out all the stops to go in at lunch with a 3.5-1.5 advantage over Wales — that scoreline actually flattered the champions who trailed 3-2 at times during the morning.
Rowan Lester and Robin Dawson, two of the rising stars of Irish golf, fought back from a deficit to halve with Tom Williams and Jack Davidson.
Only Irish losers on an important morning were Walker Cup player Gavin Moynihan and Jack Hume, the most experienced of the pairings who went down 2&1 to Tim Harry and Welsh champion David Boote.
Then, in the afternoon, Ireland were always in charge with Hume and Moynihan leading the way from the top two spots, both finishing their games on the 17th green.
Lester, last year’s British Boys Championship runner-up was in great form as he trounced Richard James by 4&3 and then Colm Campbell and Paul McBride gained the vital points that gave Ireland the all-important win.
McBride, a new cap was devastating in trouncing Zach Galliford 7&5 always being in total command.
European champions Scotland have secured more individual points than any other of the countries 19.5 and they only need to share the spoils with Ireland to become champions.
During the week Irish captain Tony Goode has enlisted the services of former Amateur Champion Garth McGimpsey to talk to the players as he was almost unbeatable at Portrush during a glittering career.
“I asked Garth if he would come down and have some words with the boys about his own experiences of the course and talk about strategy,” said Goode, who added “Now we have a chance to retain the title after a good second day.” Meanwhile Thomas Mulligan and Peter Kerr will carry Irish hopes into the third round of the British Boys Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale this morning.
Both had byes through the opening round and then they produced some high-quality golf to get past Scotland’s Will Porter and Spaniard Angel Hidalgo Portillo respectively.
Mulligan, from Co Louth, who impressed in the qualifying rounds, fell behind at the third against Porter from Carnoustie but always stayed in touch before finally edging infront around the turn – and he eventually got home 2&1.
The Irish teenager now meets German Frederick Mueller for a place in the last 16. Kerr from Royal Portrush was always in control against Portillo racing into an early three-hole advantage and recorded a facile 4&3 victory.
He now faces Denmark’s Christoffer Bring who had to go to the 19th to get the better of Swede Felix Palson.
Bradley Moore,the top English boy and one of the favourites for the crown also had to go to extra time to oust Michael Hirmer.
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