31 May 2024

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Four Galway Golfers in East of Ireland Men’s Amateur Open Championship Which Begins on Saturday

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Four Galway Golfers in East of Ireland Men’s Amateur Open Championship Which Begins on Saturday

Connemara’s Luke O’Neill is among four Galway golfers who’ll take to the tee tomorrow in the first round of the East of Ireland Men’s Amateur Open Championship in County Louth.

Galway Bay’s Pauric McGrath, Athenry’s David Kitt and Ballinasloe’s Tom Cafferky are also among the 132-player line-up.

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By CAOMH BREEN ALLEN

Dundalk golfer Caolan Rafferty has been knocking on the door in the Kingspan East of Ireland Amateur Open Championship for three of the past four years and while he wants to take one step further, he knows it could be out of his control come Monday evening. 

County Louth Golf Club plays host to the historic event once again this year with 132 of the finest Irish and international amateur golfers set to tee it up on the Baltray links this Bank Holiday weekend.

Rafferty gets his first round underway at 7.52am alongside Luke O’Neill (Connemara) and Gavin O’Neill (Malahide). The Ireland international has produced some of his best golf here finishing third in 2018, second in 2022 and most recently in 2023, taking another runner-up spot in a dramatic play-off.

“I probably threw it away last year on 18. Being one ahead with the lads playing 18 you know one of them is going to birdie it at least. It was just a case of it’s a play-off now, try and make the best score possible,” said Rafferty.

“Unfortunately, Alex (Maguire) blitzed the three-hole play-off and shot two-under. I played it solid and at any other time with them three holes shooting one-under you probably would have come out on the other side of it.

“But that’s just the way golf is, you just don’t know what’s going to come and all you can do is your best”.

The event has attracted some of the best amateur golfing talent looking to get their name on the famous trophy with West of Ireland Champion Keith Egan (Carton House), Flogas Irish Amateur Open Champion Matt McClean (Malone) and recent Ulster Men’s Amateur Open Champion Adam Buchanan (Royal Portrush) set to tee it up.

While his work with PING is keeping the Dundalk native busy travelling the length and breadth of the country, Rafferty is looking forward to getting to enjoy the home comforts that playing in County Louth bring.

“Been playing it since the U-18 so I’ve played a lot in Baltray. It’s only 20 minutes from the house so it’s an easy one to get to,” said Rafferty.

“The fact you are staying at home is nice as well, it’s a bit more relaxed and chilled out because you come home in the evening and do what you would normally do. It does come with its own pressures but I never get too bogged down with that.”

The former West and South of Ireland champion has accomplished so much, including a win at the Laytown & Bettystown Scratch Cup this year, and while the East has alluded him, it is still one that is marked on the calendar.

“There’s no point in lying, it’s one I would definitely love to win but at the same time I don’t go there thinking I have to win,” said Rafferty.

“I obviously want to win but I don’t go out saying it or even in my own head I just go out and try and play my best golf because you can play it really well like I’ve done and come third, second, second it just depends what the lads do around you, it’s out of your control.

“I generally score half decent in it so all going well hopefully we can continue it on and make that step, getting the win”.

The East of Ireland Amateur Open Championship tees off at 7.30am on Saturday morning with Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock), Eoin O’Carroll (St Annes) and local man Evan Farrell (County Louth) setting off from the first while Aidan Dooley (Carton House), Jack McDonnell (Royal Dublin) and Eoin Murphy (Dundalk) begin their tournament from the tenth.

Follow the scoring here

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