The Irish contingent struggled in strong winds on day three of the British Challenge as Stuart Manley shot an impressive four-under par 68 to lead by two going into the final round at St.Mellion.
The Welshman, who started the day one behind overnight leader Josh Hilleard, chipped in on the opening hole for birdie before adding three more birdies on the front nine and just one bogey to move into the outright lead, two ahead of overnight leader Josh Hilleard.
Despite a second dropped shot of the day on hole 17, he responded with a brilliant approach on the last hole to set up a closing birdie that saw him reach 11 under par for the week.
Manley leads by two ahead of Englishman Hilleard who posted a one under par round of 71 to get to nine under par, with the Welshman delighted with how his game held together under testing conditions on the south coast.
Manley is on the cusp of a second win on the Challenge Tour this season and a 5th win overall in his challenge tour career. The welshman said after the round that his game is in great shape to handle any adversity.
“I’m managing my game really well at the moment,” he added. “I’m feeling confident that even if things don’t quite go my way, I can get it done.”
Alex Fitzpatrick is continuing his impressive form from the Open, sitting at 8 under in a tie for 3rd place alongside frenchman Tom Vaillant.
Scotsman Euan Walker, who triumphed at St. Mellion in 2023, is one shot further back in fifth on seven under par with English duo Alfie Plant and Brandon Robinson Thompson in sixth on six under par.
Conor Purcell is the best of the Irish players in what was a tough day for scoring as many players struggled.
The Dubliner shot a two under par 70, with 6 birdies, a double bogey and two birdies in an up and down day to sit five under and in a tie for 8th place.
It was a day to forget for Stuart Grehan who shot a four over par 76 to fall just outside the top 20. It proved to be a more costly day for Raymond who shot a six over 78 to drop out of contention and into a tie for 50th place.
Jonathan Caldwell failed to rediscover his form from day 1, shooting a two over 74, but the Northern Irishman stayed inside the top 20.
Dermot McElroy tumbled down the leaderboard with a ten over 82 which included 3 double bogeys in what was a day to forget.
The final round gets underway at 8:30am local time with Manley teeing off at 10:20am alongside Hilleard and Vaillant.
Conor Purcell gets his final round underway at 9.58am.