Ian Keenan plundered seven birdies in a superb opening round of 65 to lead the PGA EuroPro Tour event at Castle Dargan Golf Club in County Sligo by one stroke at six under.
Keenan (Royal Liverpool) got into his stride straight away with a birdie at the first hole and was three-under par through eight holes. Three birdies from the ninth took him to six under through 11 before his seventh birdie of the day came at the 15th â€“ with a solitary bogey at 17 a minor blemish on a fine start to the third tournament on the Tour.
Kevin McAlpine and James Freeman are Keenanâ€™s closest challengers in second spot at six under par. McAlpine (Alyth GC) bogeyed the second hole but redressed that slip with a birdie at the fourth. He then slipped into gear with an eagle at the sixth â€“ a popular par-five with 12 other players grabbing threes on the day â€“ followed by four birdies. Unfortunately for the former double amateur champion, the end of his round saw a second bogey at the last to see him shoot 66.
Freeman (Worksop GC) recovered from a bogey-bogey start to shoot 66 â€“ picking up pairs of birdies at the third, sixth and ninth with two further birdies at 15 and 17 following a bogey at the 11th.
A cluster of familiar names sit two strokes behind Keenan in fourth spot at four under. Brendan McCarroll began on the ninth hole with a bogey but recovered in fine style with an eagle on the par-five tenth. Three birdies and two bogeys followed before he picked up a second eagle of the day at the sixth for his 67. Robert Hearty (Bromborough) also eagled the sixth in his 67, while Joe Carlisle had a run of five birdies in seven holes to thank for his four under score. Tim Rice (Limerick) and Brian McElhinney (Team Ireland) form an Irish trio with McCarroll in the tie for fourth, joined by Nicky Harris (Whitefield GC) and Elliot Saltman (Aegon).
Live reporting on the second round of the action at Castle Dargan is available via the Score Updates line, where you can also find the full leader board from the opening round.