Irish internationals tee up mouthwatering last four ties in the South

Ronan MacNamara

Robert Brazill (Image: Golf Ireland / Thos Caffrey - Golffile)

It’s an all Irish international semi-final line-up at the Pierse Motors sponsored South of Ireland Championship, with Liam Nolan, Peter O’Keeffe, Rob Brazill and Hugh Foley reaching the last four at a wet and windy Lahinch. 

There will be a new name put on the trophy on Sunday evening after 2009 winner Robbie Cannon was beaten by Nolan in Saturday afternoon’s quarter-final tie. 

Galway’s Nolan produced a stunning performance to romp to a 6&5 victory over the Balbriggan man after surviving a 19-hole tussle with Jack Doherty in round three this morning. 

The NUIG student has been in fine form this season with a runner-up in the West and a 4th at the North and he hopes he can finally claim one of the big ones on Sunday. 

“I suppose I played really well at the Europeans and fighting through being very tired at the moment and just trusting my swing. Yeah I’ve had a few good finishes now and just hoping to get over the line in one of them soon,” explained Nolan. 

If the Galwegian is to lift the trophy he will first have to navigate his way by serial winner Peter O’Keeffe who came through two extremely tight matches. First he edged out Tramore’s Jack Hearn on the 19th before beating Carton House man Keith Egan on the 18th. 

On Friday the former Irish Amateur and Close champion overcame fellow Irish internationals Marc Boucher and Alex Maguire taking his international scalps to four this week and he knows he will have to make it half a dozen on Sunday. 

“The way the draw has been for me so far it’s been all tough matches so it’s good in a way if I can get through them which I am doing, every player has been an Irish international so far so looking to get some rest and go again tomorrow. 

“This course and the conditions the way they are, nothing comes easy. I was four up through four today in the afternoon I knew I still had to dig in and barely got out of it. Keith is a lovely golfer and a tough competitor.” 

O’Keeffe and Nolan met in the matchplay stages of the West with Nolan birdieing the last to win 1UP and the former Challenge Tour pro is out for revenge on Sunday. 

“I owe Liam one from the West”, O’Keeffe joked. 

“I’d love to win the South. It feels like I always get to at least the Last 16 here. It’s a family holiday for us I love the golf course it’s a place I really enjoy, so hopefully I can close it out tomorrow.” 

If the first semi-final was tasty, the second match will be mouthwatering as Connacht Stroke champion Brazill continued his superb comeback season with wins over local hero Aaron McNulty and Max Kennedy. 

After getting a bye into round two before dispatching of David Kitt, the former West of Ireland winner was fresh coming into the tougher conditions and it proved the difference. 

“I had a great day. I just went out and played my game”, a drenched Brazill said after his win over Kennedy. 

“Got an easy run yesterday and after 15 holes I finally made a good swing and got a bit of a feel for my irons and kept that going today.” 

The Naas man almost gave up the game after seeing the professional dream disappear following a scooter accident that saw him break his scaphoid bone in his right wrist in March 2020 but he is delighted to be back dining at the top table of Irish amateur golf. 

“I putted well today and kept the ball safe. I was under par in both rounds. I’ve put a lot of hard work in this year. To be where I am now after the injury is massive.” 

“I’ve put in a lot of hard work with Noel Fox and Peter O’Keeffe and to get where I am today is massive. It would be nice to play Peter in the final he could give me a few tips. I have put a lot of work in since March and it’s nice to reward my parents they have backed me since I came back and I thought I was never going to play golf again.” 

Royal Dublin’s Foley has developed a serious habit of producing big performances in the big events towards the end of the season. After a so, so season by his lofty standards the 24-year-old won the North of Ireland last week and he is in the hunt again this week as he looks to add the South to a glittering CV that includes the West and Irish Close. 

“I’m trying to keep the head down after a tough few days. It’s all about trusting my game. I’m lucky and happy to still be here. 

“It’s a different wind out there now, more of a crosswind, we had it up and down for the first few days but today we had to deal with it across. The rain has made it soft so balls are stopping quite quickly and the rough has been more penalising, so fairway is a premium. Couple of further back tees have made a difference.” 

The Clontard native has form in Lahinch having been a former leading qualifier in the past. 

“I love it here in Lahinch, the town, usually the weather although it was horrific today. It’s a great place.  

“I’ll take it a shot at a time against Rob and will try to keep it as simple as possible. I’m not really thinking ahead and see what happens.” 

 Scoring HERE

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