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Ulster duo are hoping to earn final chapter at Royal Portrush

Good day: Matt McClean is eyeing a repeat performance
Good day: Matt McClean is eyeing a repeat performance

By Paul Kelly

Matt McClean (Malone) and Adam Mulhall (Ardglass) lead Ulster’s hopes of North of Ireland Amateur Championship success at Royal Portrush today.

McClean will face Ian Lynch (Rosslare) in the semi-finals this morning, while Mulhall lines up against English visitor Kieran Babbage (The Players Club).

This is new territory for McClean, who reached the last-16 in 2014 before losing to eventual winner Chris Selfridge.

“I felt happy enough today. Surprisingly, I had minimal nerves,” said the 25-year-old optometrist, who beat Barry Cashman (Belvoir Park) in the quarter-finals yesterday afternoon.

“Overall today I made a lot of good pars but missed some birdie chances. I didn’t miss a huge amount of greens and that will be hard to beat if you can do that for hopefully two rounds tomorrow.”

Mulhall will become a trainee professional at Ardglass GC in October and would love to bow out of amateur golf with a win.

“It’s a bit of a surprise to get this far,” said the 22-year-old who recently graduated from Stirling University with a degree in Sports Science.

“I knew I was capable but it was just a matter of putting it all together.”

Meanwhile, Ulster were crowned Women’s Inter-pro champions following a 5-3 win over Leinster at Castle Dargan.

Elsewhere, Graeme McDowell’s chances of securing a late place at The Open look slim after the first round of the Scottish Open at Gullane.

McDowell, who shot a one-under 69, needs to finish as one of the top three players not already qualified for Carnoustie, with Scott Fernandez currently in that third spot sitting at six-under.

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