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Rafferty Eager to Take Next Step at East of Ireland

Rafferty Eager to Take Next Step at East of Ireland

RaffertyCounty Louth Golf Club is once again hosting the historic Kingspan East of Ireland Amateur Open Championship this year. This prestigious event will see 132 of the finest Irish and international amateur golfers teeing off on the renowned Baltray links this Bank Holiday weekend.

Among the competitors is Dundalk golfer Caolan Rafferty, who has come tantalizingly close to victory in three of the past four years. Rafferty is determined to go one step further this time, though he acknowledges the outcome may be beyond his control come Monday evening.

Rafferty’s first round begins at 7:52 am, where he will be playing alongside Luke O’Neill (Connemara) and Gavin O’Neill (Malahide). The Irish international has shown some of his best performances on this course, finishing third in 2018, second in 2022, and most recently securing another runner-up position in a dramatic playoff in 2023.

Reflecting on last year’s close call, Rafferty said, “I probably threw it away last year on 18. Being one ahead with the lads playing 18, you know one of them is going to birdie it at least. It was just a case of it’s a play-off now, try and make the best score possible. Unfortunately, Alex [Maguire] blitzed the three-hole play-off and shot two-under. I played it solid and at any other time with those three holes, shooting one-under, you probably would have come out on the other side of it. But that’s just the way golf is, you just don’t know what’s going to come and all you can do is your best.”

The championship has drawn top amateur talents vying for the trophy, including West of Ireland Champion Keith Egan (Carton House), Flogas Irish Amateur Open Champion Matt McClean (Malone), and recent Ulster Men’s Amateur Open Champion Adam Buchanan (Royal Portrush).

Despite his busy schedule with PING, which involves traveling across the country, Rafferty is looking forward to the home comforts that come with playing in County Louth. “I’ve been playing it since the U-18, so I’ve played a lot in Baltray. It’s only 20 minutes from the house, so it’s an easy one to get to,” he said. “The fact you are staying at home is nice as well, it’s a bit more relaxed and chilled out because you come home in the evening and do what you would normally do. It does come with its own pressures but I never get too bogged down with that.”

Rafferty, a former West and South of Ireland champion, recently added the Laytown & Bettystown Scratch Cup to his accolades. While the East of Ireland title has eluded him, it’s an event he is keenly focused on. “There’s no point in lying, it’s one I would definitely love to win but at the same time I don’t go there thinking I have to win,” said Rafferty. “I obviously want to win but I don’t go out saying it or even in my own head. I just go out and try and play my best golf because you can play it really well like I’ve done and come third, second, second—it just depends what the lads do around you, it’s out of your control. I generally score half decent in it so all going well hopefully we can continue it on and make that step, getting the win.”

The East of Ireland Amateur Open Championship tees off at 7:30 am on Saturday morning. Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock), Eoin O’Carroll (St Anne’s), and local man Evan Farrell (County Louth) will start from the first tee, while Aidan Dooley (Carton House), Jack McDonnell (Royal Dublin), and Eoin Murphy (Dundalk) will begin from the tenth.

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