Irish pair Brian Byrne and Sean Conroy narrowly missed out on main draw spots on home soil in the GillenMarkets Irish Squash Open, PSA M15 tournament – with Byrne relinquishing a 2-0 lead against Australia’s Joshua Larkin.
The 31-year-old looked to be on his way to securing a main draw berth in his home event for the first time since 2014 after storming into a two-game lead, but a resurgent Larkin, who was the top qualifying seed, came fighting back to obliterate Byrne’s advantage and record a hard-fought 8-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 triumph.
“The fast pace of those first two games didn't work for me, so I decided to lengthen the rallies and make it a longer match,” said Larkin.
Larkin, who reached the final of the Pilatus Cup two weeks ago, will go head-to-head with Shaun Le Roux in the opening round of the main draw and will be hoping to recover adequately from his gargantuan 78-minute clash.
World No.170 Conroy, meanwhile, came up against Frenchman Geoffrey Demont in his fixture, who is ranked 82 places above the Irishman in the World Rankings. Conroy started well and won the first game, but Demont responded by putting pressure on his opponent with some early volleys and he gradually started to dominate the ’T’ as he took three straight games to close out a difficult victory.
Demont will go head-to-head with compatriot Lucas Serme in the first round of the main draw and the pair are set to meet for only the second time on the PSA World Tour, with Serme winning an Open du Gard clash between the two, three years ago.
Matthew Hopkin and Christophe Andre will also compete in the main draw after they beat Ashley Davies and Douglas Kempsell, respectively. Hopkin will play Joe Lee for a place in the quarter-final, while Andre is set to do battle with former World No.9 Laurens Jan Anjema.
Results – Final Qualifying Round: GillenMarkets Irish Squash Open 2016
 Joshua Larkin (AUS) bt Brian Byrne (IRL) 3-2: 8-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 (78m)
 Matthew Hopkin (AUS) bt  Ashley Davies (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-4, 11-9 (31m)
 Geoffrey Demont (FRA) bt  Sean Conroy (IRL) 3-1: 7-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-3 (41m)
 Christophe Andre (FRA) bt  Douglas Kempsell (SCO) 3-1: 12-10, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9 (46m)
Main Draw – First Round
 Lucas Serme (FRA) v [Q] Geoffrey Demont (FRA)
Christopher Binnie (JAM) v  Charles Sharpes (ENG)
 Shaun Le Roux (RSA) v [Q] Joshua Larkin (AUS)
Richie Fallows (ENG) v  Campbell Grayson (NZL)
 Declan James (ENG) v Jens Schoor (GER)
[Q] Matthew Hopkin (AUS) v  Joe Lee (ENG)
 Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) v [WC] Arthur Gaskin (IRL)
[Q] Christophe Andre (FRA) v  Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)