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Hill and Reid are top seeds as the fight for North of Ireland crown hots up

 

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Joshua Hill

Joshua Hill

Joshua Hill

Galgorm Castle dominated the stroke play qualifying at the North of Ireland Championship as Joshua Hill and Michael Reid both finished atop the leaderboard at Royal Portrush heading into the match play section.

Teenager Hill (17) and Reid both finished six under par for the opening two rounds - one at the Dunluce Links and one on the Valley Links - to top the 300-strong field and take the top two seedings for the knockouts, which start today.

Hill will be top seed courtesy of his better round on the Dunluce - a two-under 70 as opposed to Reid’s 71 - and will face Howth’s Niall Bermingham in the last-64, while Reid will take on Scrabo’s Adam McCormick.

In total, 22 Ulster players made the cut, which fell at two over, including Tandragee’s James Hewitt, who shot a course-record 62 at the Valley Course in Monday’s opening round, and followed it up with a five-over 77 on the Dunluce to make it in at four under.

Also notably making the cut was defending champion Arron Edwards-Hill of England - one of only 10 non-Irish players in the field, three of whom reached the match play - who won the tournament when it was played at Portstewart in 2019.

The Chelmsford man has been paired with Royal Dublin’s Richard Knightly in the last-64 - which takes place this morning before the last-32 is played in the afternoon - and is looking to become the first back-to-back winner since Moyola Park’s Chris Selfridge in 2013 and 2014.

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Michael Reid

Michael Reid

Michael Reid

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Peter O’Keeffe (Douglas), who finished runner-up to Edwards-Hill in 2019, is also into the last-64 after finishing level-par for his two rounds and he will be paired against Roe Park’s Aaron Kearney in the first round.

At the Connacht Under-14 Boys’ Open there was joy for Massereene’s Scott McCabe, who finished tied-third overall at Claremorris, two back of joint winners Sean Reddy (Douglas) and John Doyle (Fota Island), but he did receive ample compensation by walking away with the prize for the best Under-13 finisher.

Meanwhile, another Galgorm Castle man, Kaedan Anderson, is the joint-leading Ulsterman heading into the final round of the Leinster Boys’ Open at Enniscorthy today alongside Lisburn’s Ross Campbell, however both are eight shots back of Roscommon’s Cian O’Connor, who leads at level-par.

Today marks the start of the Irish Girls’ Close Championship at Tramore, where Kirkistown Castle’s Beth Coulter will be keen to taste victory after representing Ireland at the recent European Team Championships, while Knock’s Katie Poots will hope to maintain her good form after winning the Munster Senior Open.

And a strong Ulster contingent will head to Waterford for the Irish Senior Men’s Close at Waterford, with Ballybunion’s Peter Sheehan among the favourites to triumph.


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