McClean and Campbell remain on course as the West of Ireland reaches quarter-final stage

Mark McGowan

Matthew McClean driving on the second at County Sligo Golf Club

Mark McGowan

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Matthew McClean and Colm Campbell, at opposite ends of the draw, remain on course for a mouthwatering final at the Connolly Motors West of Ireland Championship at County Sligo Golf Club.

McClean hit the front early in his round of 16 tie with Grange’s Jake Whelan, and never looked back, turning the screw on the back nine and reeling off three holes in a row from the 13th to sign off on a 4&3 victory.

Standing in McClean’s way is local man David Brady, playing out of Straffan Golf Club, who poured in a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th to beat his cousin Aodhagan. Four times the younger Aodhagan took the lead and each time David responded to win the next, and it looked as though the 18-year-old County Sligo member was about hit the front for a fifth and final time when he hit his approach to six feet on the 18th, only for that most classic of matchplay happenings to occur and David’s 30-footer heaped pressure onto the younger man’s shoulders and his putt agonisingly slid by.

The partisan crowd will naturally be on the Sligo man’s side against pre-tournament favourite McClean, but he’s relishing the opportunity to silence the galleries.

“Yeah, obviously, that was the headline from last night,” McClean said, “the two cousins playing each other, so yeah, there’ll be a big crowd out there, and obviously most of the support will be on his side, which is fair enough. But I am sure it will be a good match.

“And I’m sure the crowds will be, you know, enthusiastic, but they know their golf as well.”

Awaiting the winner of the McClean/Brady match will be either Robert Galligan or Paul Coughlan. Galligan ran out a 2&1 winner over North of Ireland champion James Fox, while Coughlan came from 1-down after 17 to take victory over Joe O’Neill with a birdie on the 21st hole.

Keith Egan continues his assault and in an all-Carton House affair, he took down Paul O’Hanlon 2&1, with a run of three wins in four holes just before the turn proving decisive as it gave him a cushion and each time O’Hanlon halved the deficit, Egan immediately restored his two-hole advantage on the next.

Awaiting Egan in the quarter final is Evan Farrell of County Louth Golf Club who was a comprehensive 4&3 winner over David Howard of Fota Island.

Ross Lattimer would require 23 holes to eventually dispatch of Eddie McCormack and he now runs into Campbell in the final match of the afternoon. The reigning South of Ireland champion was back to his best as he ran out a 4&3 winner over Coventry’s Darryl Gwilliam.

“It was a good standard of golf,” said Campbell after the match. “I didn’t know much about Darryl in fairness, but he’s a lovely player; hits the ball really, really solid. Probably didn’t really get much going on the greens, but yeah, I’m delighted to get over the line and into the quarter-final this afternoon.”


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