Murphy moves into contention in Finland as Sugrue unable to continue first round momentum

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John Murphy (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

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Kinsale’s John Murphy assumed the position of leading Irishman at the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge as a solid second round performance moved him into contention on the Challenge Tour.

The 24-year-old signed for four birdies and a bogey in a three-under 69 at Vierumäki Resort to move up to eight-under-par and a share of 13th, which makes him the best-placed Irish player heading into the weekend.

That took him above overnight leader James Sugrue, who opened with a seven-under 65 on Thursday but could only follow it up with a level-par 72 consisting of five birdies but also a bogey and two double-bogeys on day two.

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That still has him in contention but now down in tied-20th at seven-under-par, where he is joined by Gary Hurley, whose own four-under 68 included an eagle, five birdies and three bogeys.

Murphy is six shots off the lead, held at 14-under-par by German duo Freddy Schott and Marc Hammer, along with Sweden’s Björn Åkesson who is only back competing after a prolonged spell away from the Tour scene.

The 33-year-old carded a bogey-free 10-under 62 – a score matched by Hammer – which has him in a share of their one-shot lead over France’s Victor Riu, and he praised his patient approach.

“It felt quite easy today, started rolling down birdies in the beginning and then just kept my head straight and didn’t care about the birdies and then I started with some more birdies,” he said.

“In the morning it was not very windy, so you knew you had to shoot a low score to be up there, and I did. I was just thinking to be patient, be patient and I did that well and on the back nine I had more birdies.

“You know the boring shot-by-shot and I did that very well, holed a few good putts, missed a few as well. I was just playing as I want to play golf.”

A pair of 69s, both containing four birdies and one bogey, from Conor Purcell and Paul McBride have them in for the weekend as well, at five-under and four-under respectively and they will hope to make a move on Saturday.

Gavin Moynihan was left to regret a bogey on the 18th hole in a 70 that saw him miss out on a place on the weekend by one shot after finishing at three-under-par, with Rowan Lester missing out at two-under following a second round 73.

Ronan Mullarney finished strongly with a one-under 71 but missed out on the weekend at two-over-par, with back-to-back 74s for Robin Dawson seeing him finish the week at four-over-par.

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