Keeling wins Connacht Boys after thrilling back-nine battle

Ronan MacNamara

Sean Keeling (Roganstown) winner of the Connacht U/18 Boys Open, Galway Golf Club, Salthill, Co. Galway, Ireland. 22/04/2022 Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey

Ronan MacNamara

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Sean Keeling is the Connacht U18 Boys Open champion after he came through a thrilling final round tussle with first-round leader Gavin Tiernan to win by one shot at Galway GC.

Fittingly, the Roganstown golfer was the only player to shoot a round under-par and his one-under 69 was enough to take the title on three-over after Tiernan bogeyed the 18th.

Teeing off five shots adrift of 36-hole leader Mark Gazi of Tralee, Keeling made up the ground with a front nine of 33.

The beaten French finalist opened with six straight pars before two birdies in three holes saw him turn in the lead after Tiernan turned in 35.

Tiernan of Baltray opened with a birdie and added another on the 6th but had thrown in a double-bogey on the 4th.

Keeling had some issues on the back nine on Thursday but safely navigated the journey to the clubhouse with eight pars and a bogey on the 14th.

The teenager led Tiernan by two shots after the Louth native bogeyed eleven and 14 but birdied 12. However a late charge from Tiernan looked to be taking this championship to a playoff after back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17.

There was to be one late twist as Keeling held his nerve to close with a par four on 18 while Tiernan dropped a shot and with no time to recover, he fell out of a share of the lead and into 2nd and had to settle for a level-par 70 and a four-over total.

Overnight leader Gazi shot an eight-over 78 to finish in a share of 5th on nine-over alongside Darcy Hogg, James Mitten and Alex King.

John Doyle and Gavin O’Neill shared third. Doyle shot a three-over 73 while O’Neill rounded off his week with a superb level-par 70 to finish on plus eight.

Leinster Boys champion Jack Murphy of Kinsale finished 9th on ten-over after a final round 73.

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