Rafferty confident he can step it up in pursuit success
Leading qualifier Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk GC) eased into the last 16 of the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush yesterday.
The 24-year-old beat John McCarthy (Stackstown) 3&2 and then Dwayne Mallon (Dungannon) 6&4 to set up a meeting with Ross Dutton (Tandragee GC) this morning.
Rafferty commented: "I was pretty steady, did nothing too fantastic."
Irish international Colin Fairweather (Knock) will face Belvoir Park's Gareth Lappin this morning in the only all-Ulster clash.
Lappin, a student at Michigan State University, was relatively untroubled in seeing off Englishman Henry Young-Alls by 4&3.
Two up after nine, Lappin halved the 10th, 11th and 12th before birdies at the 13th and 14th set up the win with a par on 15.
"The form is alright considering I've played very little," said the 22-year-old.
Fairweather, meanwhile, just about managed to beat England's Alex Fitzpatrick to set up the clash with Lappin. Trailing by two holes at the turn, he edged ahead for the first time on the 16th courtesy of a 30 foot birdie putt and hung on to win one-up.
"That putt on the 16th was the turning point. I have been a bit up and down this season," said the 26-year-old who is nursing a knee problem.
Late in the day, home favourite Tyrone Clarke, son of Darren, was beaten 2&1 by Rowan Lester (Hermitage).
First Round Matchplay: First Quarter - D Downie (Kirkistown Castle) bt S Flanagan (Co Sligo) at 20th; M Norton (Belvoir Pk) w.o J Sugrue (Mallow); A Mulholland (Castlerock) bt C Woodroofe (Dun Laoghaire) at 19th; J Murphy (Kinsale) bt K Van Der Weele (Rosendealsche) 1 hole; G Lappin (Belvoir Pk) bt D McDonald (Old Conna) 2&1; H Young-Alls (Notts) bt J Hapgood (Southerndown) 1 hole; A Fitzpatrick (Hallamshire) bt K McCarron (North West) 4&3; C Fairweather (Knock) bt D Cullen (Walton Heath) 3&2. Second Quarter - H O'Hare (Fortwiliam) bt R Haije (Goyer Golfclub) 4&3; D Coughlan (Portmarnock) bt J Ackerman (Silverlakes SA) 5&4; L Michel (Metropolitan AUS) bt W Russell (Clandeboye) 4&2; A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire) bt R Brazill (Naas) 1 hole; C Butler (Galway) bt A Clegg (Donaghadee) 2 holes; R Dutton (Tandragee) bt R Berkerly (Dun Laoghaire) at 20th; D Mallon (Dungannon) bt E Farrell (Ardee) 2&1; C Rafferty (Dundalk) bt J McCarthy (Stackstown) 3&2.
Second Round Matchplay: Downie bt Norton 6&5; Murphy bt Mulholland 4&3; Lappin bt Young-All 4&3; Fairweather bt Fitzpatrick 1 hole; Coughlan bt O'Hare 5&4; Fahy bt Michel 1 hole; Dutton bt Butler 1 hole; Rafferty bt Mallon 6&4; Gleeson bt Ryan 2 holes; Smith bt Fitzmaurice 2&1; Mason bt Royston 1 hole; Murphy bt Nolan 3&2; Yates bt Hewitt 6&4; Mulranney bt Simpson 8&7; Kearney bt Geraghty 2 holes; Rowan bt Clarke 2&1.