Thumping win for Walsh as big names progress in matchplay stages

Ronan MacNamara

Aideen Walsh (Lahinch) on the 8th tee during Round 1 of the AIG Irish Women's Close Championship 2022 at the Grange Golf Club in Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin, Ireland on Saturday 11th June 2022. Picture: Thos Caffrey / Golffile

Ronan MacNamara

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It’s set to be a thrilling final two days at the AIG Irish Women’s Close Championship after a host of big names progressed to Monday’s second round at the Grange.

After 36 holes of strokeplay qualifying on Saturday the players had somewhat of a rest day with just eighteen holes in the opening round of the matchplay stages.

Leading qualifier Aideen Walsh coasted through to the second round with a 6&5 win over local favourite Ella Wojnar.

Tramore’s Anna Dawson is also safely through to the last-16 after she dispatched another local hero in Sheena McElroy 3&2 to advance.

Last year’s beaten finalist Beth Coulter looks set to challenge again after a dominant 8&6 rout of Black Bush golfer Niamh O’Grady while Roscommon teenager Olivia Costello saw off Douglas’ Aoife Ni Thuama 4&3.

Spanish Seniors champion Laura Webb shows no signs of slowing down after the veteran saw off Grange’s Emma Fenlon 4&3. Webb has won the Irish Girls, Women’s and Senior Women’s Close Championships.

Clandeboye’s Rebekah Gardner came through a thriller to edge Hannah Lee-McNamara on the 18th in what was one of just three matches to go the distance.

Lahinch’s Aine Donegan and Irish Girls champion Katie Poots of Knock both enjoyed comprehensive 6&5 victories while 2018 champion Sara Byrne beat Sue Phillips 6&4 to advance.

Meanwhile, in the plate, there were comfortable wins for Jenny Maguire of Foxrock and Sophie Sharp of Royal Tara, while Moyola’s Kayleigh Mulholland saw off Ellen Lonergan of Westport and Jiaren Eina Pang put on a late spurt to edge Effingham’s Olivia Hunt 2&1 to advance to Monday’s semi-finals.

The pick of the last-16 ties in the Championship will see Dawson take on Coulter at 09.40 while it’s young vs old as Costello bids to halt Webb in her tracks.

There are two tasty ties in the last three matches as Gardner tackles Indiana University’s Donegan before Byrne faces Poots in the final match of the morning.

The winners will advance to the afternoon quarter-finals.

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