Late birdie blitz seals Irish Under 16 title for O’Neill

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Gavin O'Neill (Malahide) winner of the 2020 Irish Boys Under 16 Amateur Open Championship at Lurgan Golf Club today (20/08/2020). Picture by Pat Cashman

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Malahide’s Gavin O’Neill landed the Irish Under 16 Boys Championship at Lurgan on Thursday with a stunning finish to his final round.

The 16 year old, who led the Irish U18 Championship after the opening round at Thurles last week, fired in three birdies over his closing three holes to pip fellow Dubliner Sean Keeling (Roganstown) for a one stroke win.

His second round, a level par 70, combined with his opening 71 allowed him the narrowest of victories from Keeling who picked up the Under 15 trophy.

Keen for championship golf to resume, 16 year old O’Neill had been itching to play competitive golf again.​

“It’s been a long break between last summer and this, but I’ve been playing in the Portmarnock Summer Series, a few open competitions and trying to get a bit of competitive golf back in before these [championships] kick off again” he said last week at Thurles.

Gavin O’Neill (Malahide) lining up his putt on the 9th green during the first round of the 2020 Irish Boys Under 16 Amateur Open Championship at Lurgan Golf Club today (19/08/2020). Picture by Pat Cashman

Runner up in two Under 16 championships last year, the Leinster U16 Close at Ashbourne and the Connacht U16 Boys Open in Galway Bay, O’Neill was looking to make his mark this season and he has done that in style.

Three-over par after his opening six holes, O’Neill clawed one back on the seventh with birdie. That settled things for him until he took bogey on the 15th. Needing a strong finish he dug deep, with a 3-2-4 finish for his first championship win.

Darcy Hogg (Belvoir Park) finished in third place while East Clare’s Eoin Magill moved up 21 places on the leader board with a closing 71 for fourth place outright.

Irish Under 16  Boys Championship at Lurgan Golf Club

141      G O’Neill (Malahide), 71, 70

142      S Keeling (Roganstown), 71, 71 (U15 Trophy Winner)

144      D Hogg (Belvoir Park), 72, 72

146      E Magill (East Clare), 75, 71

147      S McLoughlin (Co. Sligo), 73, 74; A Challoner (Galway Bay), 72, 75

148      L Cunningham (Galway Bay), 74, 74; C Ward (Carton House), 73, 75; A Buchanan (Malone), 72, 76

149      A King (Faithlegg), 73, 76; C Kelly (Athlone), 73, 76; J Foley (Elm Park), 72, 77

150      F Dobbin (Malone), 75, 75

151      A Brady (Co. Sligo), 76, 75; P Keeling (Roganstown), 76, 75; J Walsh (Kinsale), 74, 77; N Bickerstaff (Massereene), 74, 77; J Kelly (Dun Laoghaire), 73, 78; C Scullion (Moyola Park), 73, 78

152      M O Sullivan (Ballyneety), 73, 79

153      J Mitten (Westmanstown), 76, 77; L Lyons (Limerick), 76, 77; M Carson (Royal Belfast), 75, 78; R McClelland (Holywood), 73, 80

154      E MacIndoe (Killarney), 71, 83

155      Z Collins (Muskerry), 76, 79; B Lupton-Smith (Bray), 75, 80; B O Neill (Waterford), 75, 80

157      C Flavin (Youghal), 76, 81; P Gogarty (Laytown & Bettystown), 75, 82

158      R O’Shea (Elm Park), 74, 84

160      G Craigan (Malone), 75, 85

DQ       J Strang (Royal Portrush), 71, DQ

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