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Dermot McElroy sickened at missing action

Disaster struck for a number of top Ulster players yesterday at the Magners North of Ireland Amateur Championship at a sun-drenched Royal Portrush.

And none more so than for last year's runner-up Dermot McElroy of Ballymena who pulled out before the match play stages had even started with illness.

That gave his opponent Brendan Walton, a nephew of former Ryder Cup star Philip, an unexpected passage into the second round.

Also biting the dust in the first round were 2009 winner Wayne Telford from the local Rathmore club, 2006 runner-up Connor Doran of Banbridge and new Ulster cap Colm Campbell of Warrenpoint who succumbed to the putting skills of David Mulholland, the affable Castlerock doctor, who made a stunning recovery coming back from four down at the 12th to eventually win on the third tie hole.

On the positive side Mulholland's clubmate Aaron Kearney cruised into the last 16. In round one he was three under par in beating Sean O'Connor of Skerries before really turning up the heat in a six and five disposal of Knock's Michael Sinclair, another former champion.

Mulholland, after his marathon morning encounter then made light work in his second round match, beating Athlone's Kelan McDonagh by the proverbial dog licence seven and six.

The match of the day, however, was the second round tie between holder Alan Dunbar and 2006 champion Darren Crowe. Two down after three Dunbar recovered to level the match by the turn. Dunbar's international colleague Paul Dunne made a Lazarus style comeback to beat Rathmore's Ian Kettyle.

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The Greystones youngster then went on to beat Manchester's Henry Featherstone three and one and will look forward to tomorrow's final.

The best from an Ulster point of view was saved to last when Royal Portrush's Patrick McCrudden knocked out leading qualifier Ciaran Molloy from Ardee.


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