In the latest round of early-season shadow-boxing, County Armagh Golf club continued its long-standing association with Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke with a two-day stableford event on 30 and 31 March.

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And reaching the leaderboard summit on this chilly but pleasingly dry weekend was Eamon Connolly, who heated up proceedings with a blistering 44-point Saturday showing.

A fantastic run of seven pars in eight front-nine holes earned Eamon a massive 25-point halfway tally, which was followed by his serene 19-point homeward dander across the victory line.

After a terrific performance of his own, Dermot O'Neill declared on one point fewer than Connolly and secured the Chest, Heart and Stroke runner-up spot as a consequence. Unlike the competition winner, O'Neill's most fruitful spell came on a formidable back nine, which included a Ballyheridan birdie and another four-pointer at the Lakes.

Elsewhere, a scintillating one-under-par first nine and later back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th were the main ingredients of the 43-point offering with which Brian Loney sealed the category 1 honours.

Brian was most closely challenged by Tom Fox, who birdied the 3rd, 12th and 14th before signing for 42 points to clinch second prize in the 0-12 handicap bracket.

Meanwhile, the previous weekend's top man, Ian Ritchie, proved that Club Stableford triumph to be no flash in the pan, as he carded another terrific score of 42 points this time out. That was sufficient to see off his category 2 rivals, the best of whom was Martin Carson. Birdies at the 12th and 14th were the highlights of Martin's excellent 41-point outing.

In category 3, Patrick Hughes hared out of the traps with five outward pars that saw him reach the turn with a hefty 24 points in the bank. His eventual 40-point return kept him one ahead of second-placed Leo McCann, who will no doubt have felt content with his useful haul of half a dozen pars.

The first silverware of the 2019 campaign will be up for grabs on the weekend of 6-7 April , when players will bid to get their hands on the CP McNabb Trophy.