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Niall Kearney keen to emulate some of the greats with an Irish PGA hat-trick

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Niall Kearney is chasing a hat-trick of Irish PGA Championship titles this week on the Twin Oaks Championship Course at Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort, beginning this Thursday.

A victory at the north Kildare venue would lift the Dubliner into exalted company alongside figures like Christy O'Connor, Harry Bradshaw and Padraig Harrington, who achieved the feat between 2007-09.

"I didn't want to pass up the chance to defend the title," said the 28-year-old, who cruised to a record-breaking 14-shot win at Dundalk GC last year. "I was very comfortable last year. I like Dundalk and I was on a decent run. I played and putted well. The overriding memory is being so consistent. It was confidence more than anything."

The leading lights on the Irish PGA Order of Merit, headed by David Higgins (Waterville Links), are set to play, including Damien McGrane, a 14-time winner this season, and Neil O'Briain (Old Conna), who has 10 victories in 2016.

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