Several shocks as Connolly Motors West of Ireland Championship reaches last 32

Mark McGowan

Powerscourt's Adam Allahbachani secured a shock win over David Shiel

Mark McGowan

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After a frenetic morning at County Sligo Golf Club, three of the pre-tournament favourites have exited stage left but there was little respite and it was soon back onto the course for the round of 32.

Leading qualifier and number one seed Mark Doogue continued where he left off and raced to a 5&4 victory over Oscar Murphy in the lead out match, and County Sligo’s own Aodhagan Brady defeated fellow Irish teammate Adam Buchanan on the 19th hole in match number two.

The first of the big shocks arrived in game three and this saw 2021 champion and highly fancied Hugh Foley fall victim to David Brady – a Rosses Point man playing out of Straffan in Kildare, who’d succesfully navigated Wednesday’s pre-tournament qualifier and then overcame a two-stroke penalty, issued by his father of all people, when a timing mix up saw him arrive late to the tee for the final round of strokeplay qualifying.

Two of the most eagerly anticipated matchups of the round saw former professionals Peter O’Keefe and Paul O’Hanlon square up, and fellow Dubliners Jake Whelan and Jack McDonnell, all four of whom are more than capable of emerging on top on Tuesday. O’Hanlon took the spoils in the former match and it looked as though McDonnell was poised to do likewise in the latter as he took a 4UP lead to the 12th tee.

Whelan had other things in mind, however, and back-to-back wins on 12 and 13 were followed by two more on 16 and 17 and he’d eventually complete the comeback and he’d go on to take victory on the first additional hole.

Matthew McClean continues to move ominously through the field and recorded a 2&1 victory over Cormac O’Muirthe, while Keith Egan, Robert Galligan, Eddie McCormack and Colm Campbell are recorded straightforward victories to advance.

Perhaps the biggest shock of the day was reserved for one of the final round of 64 matches to begin and featured Powerscourt’s Adam Allahbachani and 2023 Bridgestone Order of Merit winner David Shiel.

One of the final men to advance to the round of 64 by way of a second-round countback, Allahbachani was expected to offer little resistance and when Shiel took both the opening holes it was all going to script. But the pendulum swung back the other way and Allahbachani won four of the next five. In total, only two holes would be halved in this ding-dong affair but Shiel, who’d cruised through the strokeplay section comfortably, was struggling on the back nine and Allahbachani was able to close out the match with a par on 16 for a 4&2 win.

“David is a great competitor and I’ve known him for four or five years,” said Allahbachani. “He’s in the same club as me and I know he putts well, so I was like, ‘he’s not going to give me anything on the green so I need to do it myself.’

“So I was really proud of my performance today and happy I got over the line and that’s huge. I mean, he was one of the big favourites coming into it and like effectively, you know, he won the Order of Merit, so rankings aside or WAGR aside, he was the best performer last year, right?

“So you know, I think the pressure was on him going into the day because I’m some nobody, let’s say, playing against the number one guy last year and to get the job done was was huge.”


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