If it was McIlroy at St Andrews, then it was McElroy at the Magners North of Ireland Amateur Championship, as 17-year-old Dermot eased into today’s semi-finals.
After comfortably cruising past Richard Donovan in yesterday morning’s third round, the Ballymena rising star found himself two-down after two in the quarter-final, before pulling a hole back with a concession from leading qualifier Gerard Kelly at the third.
He then birdied both the fifth and sixth to go one-up, hitting his eight-iron tee-shot at six to within five feet.
After the next five holes were halved in pars, the eight-iron was at work again at the 12th, setting up a birdie three, this time from four feet, to double his advantage. It was three-up at Calamity as Kelly three-putted and although Kelly won 15 after McElroy found sand, it was just delaying the inevitable.
McElroy now plays Banbridge’s Connor Doran, who beat Castlerock’s Aaron Kearney in a match that ebbed and flowed like the adjacent Atlantic tide.
The fairytale is over for Johnny Feenan of Ardglass, the three-handicapper who came of the reserve list to play and then qualify
on the cut mark. Having accounted for holder Wayne Telford and Noel Murray, he caused another shock, beating Royal Dublin’s Darragh Coghlan two and one.
Feenan then gave new favourite Alan Dunbar a scare, taking a two-hole lead after five before the Rathmore man rattled off five holes in a row from the sixth.
Dunbar had been fortunate to earlier beat Sligo’s Barry Anderson after driving out of the bounds at the second tie hole.
Anderson then drove into the bunker, took two to get out, and Dunbar eventually won with a bogey six.
Third round: Andrew Hogan (Newlands) lost to Gerard Kelly (Co Louth/UCD) 3/2; Dermot McElroy (Ballymena) beat Richard O’Donovan (Lucan) 4/3; David Sutton (Lurgan) lost to Connor Doran (Banbridge) 3/2; Aaron Kearney (Castlerock) beat Reeve Whitson (Mourne) 2/1; Darragh Coghlan (Royal Dublin) lost to Jonathan Feenan (Ardglass) 2/1; Barry Anderson (Co Sligo) lost to Alan Dunbar (Rathmore) 20th; James Fox (Portmarnock) beat Gary Lynas (Shandon Park) 3/2; James Monaghan (The Island) lost to Sean Ryan (Royal Dublin) 1 hole
Quarter-finals: Dermot McElroy beat Gerard Kelly 2/1; Alan Dunbar beat Jonathan Feenan 4/3; Connor Doran beat Aaron Kearney 1 hole; Sean Ryan bt James Fox 19th.
Semi-finals: Dermot McElroy v Connor Doran; Alan Dunbar v Sean Ryan.