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Fairweather is left to wave NI flag at Royal Portrush

By Paul Kelly

Knock's Colin Fairweather will carry the home hopes today at Royal Portrush in the semi-finals of the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Championship.

The 26-year-old Irish international, who has been struggling all week with a leg problem, beat Gareth Lappin (Belvoir Park) and then Derek Downie (Kirkistown Castle) to set up a last-four meeting with leading qualifier Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk GC).

"I finally holed a few putts which was a help for the confidence," said Fairweather. "The putting in qualifying was fine but each day can be different.

"On the first day I struggled with my whole game. I am slowly getting the confidence back. It's coming together."

Rafferty got a scare in the last 16 yesterday when he was taken to the 19th by Tandragee's Ross Dutton. The Dundalk man didn't make the same mistake in the last eight, beating Darragh Coghlan (Portmarnock) 4&2.

"We both got off to a slow start, then picked up a wee bit but the rain swept in which doesn't allow for any good golf," said the 24-year-old. "My bad golf was better than Darragh's bad golf. It was a struggle this afternoon. Some of it was tired golf and the rest was the elements."

The other semi-final this morning will see Alex Gleeson (Castle) take on Rowan Lester (Hermitage).

If Gleeson wins the title he will have to do it without an eight iron after the club broke mid-round in his 2&1 win over Paul Murphy (Rosslare).

"I was playing the 13th and the head of my club flew off at impact and landed in a bush," said Gleeson, the reigning Irish Close Champion. "It shouldn't be much problem to get around using a seven or nine iron."

Lester proved too strong for Ronan Mullarney (Galway) in the final match, winning 3&1.

He wasn't happy with his morning display in beating Cian Geraghty (Laytown/Bettystown) 2&1. He said: "I was struggling with the long game, but I did better this afternoon."

The semi-finals get under way this morning at 8.30am.

RESULTS: Round 3: D Downie (Kirkistown Castle) bt J Murphy (Kinsale) 3&1; C Fairweather (Knock) bt G Lappin (Belvoir Pk) 2 holes; D Coughlan (Portmarnock) bt A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire) 1 hole; C Rafferty (Dundalk) bt R Dutton (Tandragee) at 19th; A Gleeson (Castle) bt E Smith (Laytown & Bettystown) 3&2; Paul Murphy (Rosslare) bt F Mason (Moor Hall) 6&5; R Mulranny (Galway) bt J Yates (Naas) 4&2; R Lester (Hermitage) bt C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) 2 holes. Quarter-finals: Fairweather bt Downie 2 holes; Rafferty bt Coughlan 4&2; Gleeson bt Murphy2&1; Lester bt Mullarney 3&1.

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