South of Ireland Championship: Pat Murray's desperate to end seven-year itch
Pat Murray broke his ‘major' duck by claiming last year's Irish Close title but the Limerick star plans to make the 80-mile drive to Killarney tonight with a more coveted prize in the boot of his car.
Six times the Tipperary native (39) has reached the semi-finals of his beloved South of Ireland Championship and six times he has driven away a disappointed man.
This year, he's hoping it will be seventh time lucky after seeing off the talented West Waterford left-hander Mark Shanahan by two holes and then ending Lahinch hopeful Thomas Neenan's odyssey with a comprehensive 6 and 4 quarter-final victory.
“I've lost six semi-finals but I've got a good record in finals,” quipped Murray in reference to his Close win at Enniscrone. “That's my only final so far. Hopefully we keep the record going.”
One of five amateurs invited to play in this week's 3 Irish Open in Killarney, Murray has enough South of Ireland baggage to fill the boot of his car several times over.
“I have come up against it a few times in semi-finals here over the years,” he conceded. “It just wasn't my time but I'm feeling good about the game this time. I'm playing well and if I can keep it going, I'd be pretty confident.”
With many of the big names staying away, Murray is easily the best known player to make the semi-finals of the most open South of Ireland Championship in years.
But his path to the final is barred by the Carlow man John Greene (24) who broke a couple of teenagers’ hearts yesterday as he followed a 2 and 1 win over Milltown's Liam Harnett (16) with a miraculous comeback victory against Skerries starlet Sam Devey.
Two down with three to play against Devey, the UCD golf scholarship student finished birdie-par-birdie to win by one hole.
Fifth round: K McDonagh bt M Sheridan 4/3; D Lernihan bt R Whitson 3/2; B Casey bt J Monaghan 19th; C Daly bt P O’Hara 4/3; S Devey bt S McGlynn 2/1; J Greene bt L Harnett 2/1; T Neenan bt R O’Donovan 1H; P Murray bt M Shanahan 2H.
Quarter-finals: K McDonagh bt D Lernihan 1h; C Daly bt B Casey 2H; J Greene bt S Devey 1H; P Murray bt T Neenan 6/4.
Semi-finals: 08:30 Kelan McDonagh (Athlone/NUIM) v Cian Daly (Castletroy); 08:40 John Greene (Carlow) v Pat Murray (Limerick).