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North of Ireland is still within McClean's grasp as Kilpatrick stars at PGA Challenge

 

By Paul Kelly

Leading qualifier, Matthew McClean (Malone), is still chasing North of Ireland Amateur Championship glory after making it through to this morning's last-16 at Royal Portrush Golf Club.

The 25-year-old optometrist beat Fergal Kennedy (The Island) 3&1 in the opening round of matchplay yesterday morning and then beat Stephen Watts (Cairndhu) 3&1 in the last-32 yesterday afternoon.

The former Irish boys international will now play Peter McKeever (Castle) at 8.15am with his sights set on a place in the last eight.

"I didn't play very well in the morning but got it going in the afternoon," said McClean.

Royal Portrush is well represented in the later stages of this year's event and there is a distinct possibility of a brother versus brother meeting in the quarter-finals.

The 2011 champion, Patrick McCrudden (Royal Portrush) will play Kieran Babbage (The Players Club) this morning, while brother Richard (Royal Portrush) meets another Royal Portrush man, Matt McAlpin.

Tyrone Clarke (Royal Portrush), son of former Open Champion, Darren remains in the mix and will face another local, Rathmore's Ben Best.

The biggest casualties yesterday were Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) who was beaten 2&1 in round one by Portadown's David Ross and 2017 Irish Amateur Open champ, Peter O'Keeffe (Douglas) who lost out to 4&2 to Harvey Byers (Walton Heath).

Elsewhere, at Castle Dargan (Co Sligo), Ulster will meet Leinster in the final round of the Interprovincials with the winner collecting the title for 2018.

Meanwhile, Richard Kilpatrick hung on to win the PGA Challenge at Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort on Tuesday.

Joint overnight leader alongside Tim Rice (Limerick), the Banbridge professional carded a second round one over par 73 to win the event by three shots.

David Higgins (Waterville Links) grabbed second with Mark Staunton (Delgany), Adam Dunmore (Bundoran) and Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort) finishing joint third on level par.

Meanwhile, Ireland will take on leading qualifiers France in Flight A of the European Ladies' Team Championship after securing a top-eight finish in stroke play qualifying.

Royal County Down star Olivia Mehaffey once again led the way with a six-under 66 at Murhof, Austria, which included an eagle on the fifth.

Over at Kaskada, the boys will also challenge for the title after sealing seventh place on 728, but both the men and girls missed out on Flight A, and will now look to avoid a bottom-three finish, which would result in relegation.

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