Dundalk lose in Barton Shield All-Ireland semi-final

Dundalk Golf Club’s latest bid to win its first national senior title ended in disappointment last Friday morning when they were beaten by Co Sligo Golf Club in the semi-finals of the AIG Barton Shield in Westport.

Having lost in last year’s All-Ireland Final to Athenry, Dundalk travelled to the Co Mayo venue hoping to go one better after winning back to back Leinster titles in July when they beat The Island in the provincial decider at Royal Tara.

They went into the last four as second favourites behind Warrenpoint, who were bidding for their third Barton Shield title in four years, but, like Dundalk, they too fell at the semi-final stage.

Dundalk managers Alan McCabe and John Conlon went with the same pairings that had delivered both provincial titles with Aaron Grant and Josh Mackin up against Ruairi O’Connor and Thomas Finnegan in the top match while Caolan Rafferty and Eoin Murphy faced brothers TJ and Daniel Ford in the other.

Right from the beginning it was obvious that Dundalk were in trouble as they found themselves behind in both matches and never managed to get their noses in front in either of them after that.

After six holes Dundalk were three down in the top match and one down in the bottom match and by the turn Grant and Mackin were four down while Rafferty and Murphy were still one behind.

That meant Dundalk were five holes behind with 18 to play and while Rafferty and Murphy managed to get it back to all square by the 12th, up ahead of them it was looking ominous as Grant and Mackin were five down with six to play in their match.

It was all over a few holes later as Dundalk ran out of holes with Grant and Mackin seven down with two play while Rafferty and Murphy were all square with three to play.

“It was disappointing not to perform the way we know we can but these things happen in sport and all we can do is pick ourselves up and get ready to have another shot at it next year,” said joint manager John Conlon.

“We still managed to retain our Leinster title this year which is a fair achievement but the lads really wanted to bring home a green one and they are gutted they didn’t do that especially for the large group of supporters who travelled to Mayo for the All-Ireland Finals.”

In the final on Friday afternoon it was Co Sligo’s turn to be on the end of a seven hole defeat as they lost to Limerick.

Rafferty wins Scratch Cup for third time in four years

Caolan Raffertty

Caolan Rafferty has won One Finance sponsored Dundalk Scratch Cup for the third time in four years after dominating proceedings over his home course today.

The 26-year-old Walker Cup player followed up a bogey-free five under par 67 in the first round of the 36 hole competition with a four under par 68 to finish on nine under and five clear of Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell in second place.

“It’s a good feeling,” said Rafferty afterwards. “I played really well and as Conor (Purcell) said I didn’t miss too many shots today. I put myself in good position off the tee and then hit my approach shots to within makeable positions. The birdies I did make, I chipped in twice, but the rest of them were pretty much straight-forward. Overall, it was pretty solid.”

Rafferty began his first round with five straight pars before birdieing the par five sixth and turned on two under after a birdie at the par four eighth. More birdies followed at the 10th and 14th before he sank a 15ft putt on the last for his fifth birdie of the round.

Campbell, who won in 2017, fired seven birdies on his way to an opening round of 68 which left him one shot behind Rafferty at the halfway mark of this 36 hole competition with Royal Dublin’s Richard Knightly two shots further back after a two under par 70 which included a run of three birdies from the 10th.

Campbell drew level with playing partner Rafferty at the beginning of the second round when he birdied the opening hole to move to five under and then holed his ninth birdie of the day on the third to join Rafferty on six under after he too had a three at the par four hole.

But the Warrenpoint man, who won this competition in 2017, saw his challenge fade away as he bogeyed three of the next four holes to drop to three under while Rafferty moved to seven under by birdieing the par three fifth.
Immediately ahead of them, Knightly was also going backwards thanks to a double bogey seven at the sixth and a bogey five at the eighth.

Rafferty picked up shots at the 10th and 11th, where he chipped in, to move to nine under before having his first bogey in 32 holes when he chunked a chip on the short par four 14th and failed to get up and down.

“I’m still annoyed about the only bogey I made. I tried over the last two years to go around without a bogey but I bogeyed 16 last year and 14 this year for my only bogeys of the tournament. It would have been nice to go 36 holes without a bogey but that’s the joys of it and a win is a win at the end of the day.”

Rafferty got his round back to nine under on the last when, much to delight of the large home support, he drained a 30ft putt for his 10th birdie of the day to round off a highly impressive performance in which he seemed oblivious to the incessant rain that fell throughout the afternoon round.

The only other sub-70 round in the afternoon came from course record holder and last year’s runner-up, Gerard Dunne of Co Louth, who shot a three under par 69 to finish in third place overall, six shots adrift of the winner.

LEADERBOARD:
135 – Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) 67, 68.
140 – Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) 68, 72.
141 – Gerard Dunne (Co Louth) 72, 69; Paul Conroy (Enniscorthy) 71, 70.
144 – Marc McKinstry (Cairndhu) 73, 71; Conor Purcell (Portmarnock) 71, 73; Richard Knightly (Royal Dublin) 70, 74.
145 – Jake Whelan (Newlands) 72, 73
146 – Eoin Murphy (Dundalk) 76, 70; Stephen Coulter (Warrenpoint) 71, 75;
147 – Eugene Smith (Portmarnock Links) 75, 72; Liam Grehan (Mullingar) 73, 74; Max Kennedy (Royal Dublin) 71, 76.

RESULTS
1st Caolan Rafferty (+6, Dundalk) 135 (67/68), 2nd Colm Campbell Jnr (+4, Warrenpoint) 140 (68/72), 3rd Gerard Dunne (+3, Co Louth) 141 (72/69), 4th Paul Conroy (+1, Enniscorthy) 141 (71/70). Best Nett: Fionntan Lawlor (3, Corballis) 145 (76/69). 1st 18 Gross: Richard Knightly (+2, Royal Dublin) 70. 1st 18 Nett: Liam Abom (1, Edmondstown) 70. 2nd 18 Gross: Eoin Murphy (+1, Dundalk) 70. 2nd 18 Nett: Lee Mitchell (2, Knock) 71/36. 1st Round CSS 74/75. 2nd Round CSS 74. Player name Handicap rd1 rd2 Total score

Full Results

Position-Name-Handicap-R1-R2-Total

1 RAFFERTY, CAOLAN -6 67 68 135

2 CAMPBELL, COLM JNR -4 68 72 140

3 Conroy, Paul -1 71 70 141

4 Dunne, Gerard -3 72 69 141

5 MCKINSTRY, MARC -1 73 71 144

6 KNIGHTLY, Richard -2 70 74 144

7 Purcell, Conor -5 71 73 144

8 Whelan, Jake -2 72 73 145

9 MURPHY, EOIN -1 76 70 146

10 COULTER, STEPHEN -2 71 75 146

11 Smith, Eugene -2 75 72 147

12 Grehan, Liam -2 73 74 147

13 Kennedy, Max -2 71 76 147

14 LENEHAN, GEOFFREY -3 74 74 148

15 Mitchell, Lee 2 76 73 149

16 CURRAN, CONOR 1 77 72 149

17 Carter, Shaun -2 75 74 149

18 GRANT, AARON -1 73 76 149

19 Dullaghan, Cian -2 73 76 149

20 Cullen, Gary -3 74 75 149

21 Boggan, Ciaran 1 75 75 150

22 Farrell, Evan -1 75 75 150

23 McCabe, Joshua -2 76 74 150

24 Lawlor, Fionntan 3 79 72 151

25 Shipp, Evan 1 72 80 152

26 Copeland, Gerard -1 74 78 152

27 ALDERDICE, ZAK 4 77 76 153

28 ABOM, LIAM 1 71 82 153

29 Geraghty, Cian 0 82 72 154

30 Pepper, Tomas 2 77 77 154

31 Coyle, Daniel 0 78 76 154

32 Mc DONNELL, CHARLIE 2 76 78 154 33

Holland, Daniel -2 72 82 154

34 GORHAM, MARK 3 75 80 155

35 Denvir, Charlie -2 75 80 155

36 Kelly, Tom S 2 78 78 156

37 HESSION, SHANE 3 77 79 156

38 McGlynn, Shane 1 79 77 156

39 BRENNAN, GERRY 4 76 80 156

40 Mulligan, Daniel 2 75 81 156

41 Plunkett, Thomas -1 77 79 156

42 MURDOCK, CONALL 5 77 80 157

43 Connell, Charlie 2 79 79 158

44 Doggett, Benjamin 1 79 79 158

45 RAFFERTY, KYLE 5 75 83 158

46 McCabe, Stephen 3 76 83 159

47 MacKELL, NEAL 3 75 84 159

48 Grant, Niall 2 82 78 160

49 Cully, Liam 3 81 79 160

50 O’Connor, Tadhg 3 81 79 160

51 Duffy, Bevan 2 83 78 161

52 Winters, David 1 77 85 162

53 HURLEY, ALAN 5 84 84 168

Caolan Rafferty receives the Dundalk Scratch Cup from Dundalk Golf Club Captain Pat Davis and Event Sponsor, Martin McDonnell of One Finance.

Rafferty leads Scratch Cup after bogey-free 67

Caolan Rafferty leads the One Finance sponsored Dundalk Scratch Cup after this morning’s opening round.


The 26-year-old Walker Cup player shot a bogey-free five under par 67 over his home course and holds a one-shot lead over Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell going into this afternoon’s second round.


Rafferty, who is bidding for a third win in four years, opened with five straight pars before birdieing the par five sixth and turned on two under after a birdie at the par four eighth. More birdies followed at the 10th and 14th before he sank a 15ft putt on the last for his fifth birdie of the round.

Campbell, who won in 2017, fired seven birdies on his way to an opening round of 68 which left him one shot behind Rafferty at the halfway mark of this 36 hole competition.
Royal Dublin’s Richard Knightley is lying third three shots off the lead after a two under par 70 which included back to back birdies at the third and fourth and a run of three successive birdies from the 10th.

He is one shot clear of a group of five players on 71 which includes Australian Amateur champion Conor Purcell, who played alongside his Walker Cup teammate Rafferty and Ireland international colleague Tiarnan McLarnon. Purcell ended up on one under despite shooting three birdies over his first seven holes.

The second round takes place this afternoon.

LEADERBOARD: 67 – Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk); 68 – Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint); 70 – Richard Knightley (Royal Dublin); 71 – Max Kennedy (Royal Dublin), Stephen Coulter (Warrenpoint), Liam Abom (Edmondstown), Conor Purcell (Royal Dublin), Paul Conroy (Warrenpoint). 72 – Evan Shipp (Headfort), Jake Whelan (Newlands), Daniel Holland (Castle), Gerard Dunne (Co Louth).

DETAILED ROUND 1 SCORES
Place Player name (H’cap) Score Front Back

1 RAFFERTY, CAOLAN (-6) 67 34.0 33.0
2 CAMPBELL, COLM JNR ] (-4) 68 33.0 35.0
3 KNIGHTLY, Richard (-2) 70 36.0 34.0
4 Kennedy, Max (-2) 71 38.0 33.0
5 COULTER, STEPHEN (-2) 71 37.0 34.0
6 ABOM, LIAM (1) 71 35.0 36.0
7 Purcell, Conor (-5) 71 34.0 37.0
8 Conroy, Paul ( -1) 71 33.0 38.0
9 Shipp, Evan (1) 72 35.0 37.0
10 Whelan, Jake (-2) 72 35.0 37.0
11 Holland, Daniel (-2) 72 35.0 37.0
12 Dunne, Gerard (-3) 72 34.0 38.0
13 GRANT, AARON (-1) 73 38.0 35.0
14 Grehan, Liam (-2) 73 37.0 36.0
15 MCKINSTRY, MARC (-1) 73 37.0 36.0
16 Dullaghan, Cian (-2) 73 36.0 37.0
17 LENEHAN, GEOFFREY (-3) 74 39.0 35.0
18 Cullen, Gary (-3) 74 39.0 35.0
19 Copeland, Gerard (-1) 74 36.0 38.0
20 Keating, Dylan (-3) 74 36.0 38.0
21 Carter, Shaun (-2) 75 39.0 36.0
22 Boggan, Ciaran (1) 75 39.0 36.0
23 Denvir, Charlie (-2) 75 38.0 37.0
24 RAFFERTY, KYLE (5) 75 38.0 37.0
25 MacKELL, NEAL (3) 75 38.0 37.0
26 GORHAM, MARK (3) 75 38.0 37.0
27 Mulligan, Daniel (2) 75 38.0 37.0
28 Smith, Eugene (-2) 75 38.0 37.0
29 Farrell, Evan (-1) 75 35.0 40.0
30 MACKIN, JOSH (-1) 76 39.0 37.0
31 McCabe, Stephen (3 ) 76 39.0 37.0
32 Mitchell, Lee (2) 76 39.0 37.0
33 BRENNAN, GERRY (4) 76 38.0 38.0
34 MURPHY, EOIN (-1) 76 37.0 39.0
35 Mc DONNELL, CHARLIE (2) 76 36.0 40.0
36 McCabe, Joshua (-2) 76 35.0 41.0
37 MURDOCK, CONALL (5) 77 40.0 37.0
38 ALDERDICE, ZAK (4) 77 40.0 37.0
39 CURRAN, CONOR (1) 77 39.0 38.0
40 LAWLOR, BRENDAN (0) 77 39.0 38.0
41 MURPHY, MAURICE J 3 77 39.0 38.0
42 Pepper, Tomas (2) 77 39.0 38.0
43 Plunkett, Thomas (-1) 77 39.0 38.0
44 HESSION, SHANE (3) 77 39.0 38.0
45 Winters, David (1) 77 38.0 39.0
46 McLarnon, Tiarnan (-4) 77 38.0 39.0
47 Kelly, Tom S (2) 78 42.0 36.0
48 Coyle, Daniel (0) 78 42.0 36.0
49 O’CALLAGHAN, NIALL (2) 78 41.0 37.0
50 WALSHE, CLEM (4) 78 39.0 39.0
51 Connell, Charlie (2) 79 42.0 37.0
52 McGlynn, Shane (1) 79 40.0 39.0
53 Lawlor, Fionntan (3) 79 40.0 39.0
54 Doggett, Benjamin (1) 79 38.0 41.0
55 Cully, Liam (3) 81 42.0 39.0
56 O’Connor, Tadhg (3) 81 40.0 41.0
57 Geraghty, Cian (0) 82 44.0 38.0
58 Cullen, Christopher (3) 82 43.0 39.0
59 Grant, Niall (2) 82 43.0 39.0
60 ROGERS, PETER (2) 82 42.0 40.0
61 LAVERTY, JOSEPH (6) 83 43.0 40.0
62 Duffy, Bevan (2) 83 41.0 42.0
63 HURLEY, ALAN (5) 84 44.0 40.0
64 Tracey, Ciaran (2) 85 41.0 44.0

CSS 74 Home, 75 away

Walker Cup stars heading for Dundalk Scratch Cup

Walker Cup and Ireland stars Caolan Rafferty, James Sugrue and Conor Purcell will switch from being teammates to rivals this Sunday (September 15) when they tee it up at the One Finance sponsored Dundalk Scratch Cup at Dundalk Golf Club.
Last weekend the trio were part of the Great Britain & Ireland team in the Walker Cup at Hoylake before travelling to Lahinch to represent Ireland in the Home Internationals.
The presence of three players from the World’s top 60 is sure to attract big crowds to Dundalk for the 36 hole tournament which will have shotgun starts at 9am for Round 1 and 2pm for Round 2.
Rafferty is the defending champion and is bidding to win a third title in four years while Sugrue from Mallow is the Amateur champion and Portmarnock’s Purcell is the Australian Amateur champion.
The three Walker Cup players will start as favourites but there are plenty of players in the star studded field that will fancy their chances of lifting the famous trophy. Previous champions include the likes of three-time major winner Padraig Harrington while another former Walker Cup players, David Sheahan, was the first winner in 1963.
Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell won the event in 2017 while Co Louth’s Gerard Dunne set a new course record in last year’s second round and both will be expected to feature strongly as will another former winner, Gary Cullen, while current Boys’ internationals Max Kennedy and Dylan Keating will see this as their opportunity to make their senior breakthrough.
Rafferty will lead a strong home challenge into this year’s competition as members of the club’s senior panel will be battling to nail their places in next week’s All-Ireland Barton Shield semi-final against Rosses Point in Westport. Over their home course, the challenge of Aaron Grant, Eoin Murphy, Josh Makin and Brendan Lawlor cannot be underestimated. 
The greenkeeping staff at Dundalk have been working hard over the last few weeks to have the course in top shape for Sunday and Dundalk Captain Pat Davis said everybody is looking forward to the event.
“We have a great field this year and are delighted that James Sugrue and Conor Purcell are able to play given their busy schedules. The course is in superb condition and we are expecting a lot of people to come out and take advantage of the opportunity to see some of our top amateur golfers in action,” he said.

History made as Rafferty heads for Walker Cup

This weekend, Caolan Rafferty will be part of the Great Britain and Ireland team trying to win back the Walker Cup from the USA at Royal Liverpool Golf Club as he becomes the first player from Louth to play in amateur golf’s most famous team competition.

The Walker Cup, which predates the Ryder Cup by five years, started in 1922 although there had been an informal match in 1921 at this year’s venue in Hoylake. It is a biennial match between the best amateur golfers in Britain and Ireland and their counterparts in America.

The inclusion of Rafferty, along with Mallow’s James Sugrue and Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell, brings to 47 the number of Irish players who have played in the Walker Cup over the last 98 years and the Dundalk Golf Club player finds himself joining an elite group that also includes many great players like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy.

Having started his career in Greenore Golf Club, it was the opportunity to join Dundalk Golf Club in 2014 which proved to be a significant turning point in Rafferty’s golfing career. Situated 10 minutes from his home in Dromiskin, he was now able to play regularly. His handicap tumbled and he started climbing up the world rankings. He also became part of Dundalk’s Junior Golf Programme and was encouraged to not only play in the major Irish championships but also those in Britain.

“When the opportunity arose to join Dundalk I couldn’t turn it down because it so close to home. Everybody agreed at the time that it was for the better. That kick-started me and having it so close that I could go over whenever I wanted, I found myself playing more and more and more.”

Last December he was one of 26 players named on the Walker Cup panel who were brought to Hoylake for a few days of practice and he admits that it was only then that he realised he had a chance of playing in one of golf’s most famous tournaments.

“It genuinely had never crossed my mind up until that point. I wasn’t on any Irish or Leinster team until 2016 so getting them ticked off was the priority.”

Rafferty’s laid-back nature meant that making the Walker Cup didn’t become an all-consuming passion although that didn’t stop it becoming a regular topic of conversation among those he met on and off the golf course. When asked about his chances of making the team his reaction was always along the lines that ‘if is meant to be, it’s meant to be’. He added: “People thought I was joking but genuinely if it was going to happen it was going to happen.”

He had been told in December by the Walker Cup captain Craig Watson to keep doing what he was doing and he stuck to that game plan. The Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings is a system that tracks the current form of the world’s top players and Rafferty spent most of the year in its top 10 while Mark Eley, who runs the Golf Bible website, wrote: “Caolan has risen out of the pack in 2019 with a number of excellent results. The West of Ireland was his only win but look at the number of top 10s. He has a good links pedigree and has performed well in various match play events too.”

Rafferty was at the American Amateur Championship in the week leading up to announcement of the Walker Cup team on Monday, August 19 and was getting worried that he hadn’t heard anything by the time he due to head to the Airport on the day before. His phone had run out of credit earlier in the week and he was depending on the wifi in the house he was staying in to keep in touch.

“I had packed the car up with the suitcases to head to the airport. I ran back into the house because I decided I’d check the emails before I left. I had been checking them daily but hadn’t checked them on the Sunday and I decided to do it then because I knew the team was being announced on the Monday, The thing then binged and in popped an email from Craig to say that he had been trying to ring me and the phone wasn’t working and he wanted to let me know that I was picked.”

It made for a pleasant journey home even though flight cancellations meant he didn’t get back to Dundalk from North Carolina until the Tuesday. But the celebrations were in full swing by then and the messages of congratulations were flowing in.

“The phone has been going non-stop whether it’s people calling me, texting me or reaching out to me on social media. The support has been really good. I just want to move on and get ready in my own wee way but you have to accept that everybody does want to congratulate you because it is such a big thing.

“This shows far I have come on and how well I am improving. To actually have it now signed and sealed is lovely. It is really nice to sit back and not to have the worry of it, not that I was worrying in the first place,” he said, smiling! Rafferty headed to Liverpool on Sunday to join the other players on the ten man team for a week of preparation before the two-day event commences on Saturday.

Rafferty, at 26, is the oldest player on the team by three years and is 10 years older than the youngest member, England’s Conor Gough. But he says there is a good bond between the group of English, Scottish and Irish players, their captain and his selectors.

“The team is very close. You have a mix of all types of people and we all get on so well. I noticed at all the practice sessions that it didn’t matter who you were with, there was a laugh and a joke in the match and plenty of abuse thrown whether it was needed to be thrown or not. We all get on really well.

“There is no one who feels superior in the group and there is no one who wants to be superior either which is good. That will create a better team atmosphere which will be a big help to us in trying to win.” GB&I won the Walker Cup on home ground in 2011 and 2015 but lost it in America last time out so Rafferty is hoping that home advantage will be a benefit this time around.

“Whether it comes down to the support of the crowd or whether it is the actual golf course itself or the weather you just never really know but it does seem to have an advantage.”

Support is one thing that Rafferty won’t be lacking in Hoylake. A large number of members from Dundalk, as well as Greenore, are expected to make the short journey across the Irish Sea to Liverpool with some having showed their faith a long time ago in Rafferty’s ability to make the team

“I’m finding out more and more names with people booking late now they know I am there. I know some people who booked last December when I was only on the panel. The flight out on the Friday night will be fun!

“You would like to hope that having that support will make it feel more like a normal competition than what it actually is because there is obviously going to be a lot of nerves. If it does come down to hitting the first tee shot, knowing that there is so much support there for you will make it more like your Barton Shield and stuff like that. I know once I get on the first tee that any half decent shot I hit from there will have the support cheering it on.”

September is shaping up to be a momentous month for Rafferty with the Walker Cup being followed by the Home Internationals in Lahinch and the Dundalk Scratch Cup on September 15 where he will be bidding for a third win in four years against a field that will include his Walker Cup and Ireland team-mates Sugrue and Purcell. Then it’s off to Westport for the Barton Shield All-Ireland Finals on September 22 as Dundalk bid for a first ever Senior All-Ireland title after losing in last year’s final to Athenry.

“Hopefully all will go the right way and if we do get the win at each one it will definitely be the best September I have had in a long time because all you normally do is start college or school. There’s plenty of golf this year.”

Rafferty selected on GB&I Walker Cup team

Caolan Rafferty has been selected on the Great Britain and Ireland that will play USA in the 2019 Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on September 7 and 8.

This is the first time a player from Dundalk Golf Club has been selected to play in amateur golf’s greatest team competition.

Caolan is a fantastic ambassador for our club and we look forward to seeing him on amateur golf’s biggest stage next month.

Many members are planning to make the short journey across the Irish Sea to Liverpool to ensure Caolan has plenty of support from his home club when he tees it up against the Americans.

On behalf of all the members of Dundalk Golf Club, we would like to congratulate Caolan on this special achievement and wish him all the best in Hoylake.

Here is a link to a special video that the R&A used to announce the team. https://twitter.com/RandA/status/

and here is a link to a news story about the GB&I team. htps://www.randa.org/News/2019/08/GBandI-team-announced-for-47th-Walker-Cup-match

Elite golfers flying the flag across the world

 It’s a busy time for Dundalk Golf Club’s elite golfers as they continue to represent the club with distinction across the world.

Caolan Rafferty faces the biggest test of his amateur career this week when he tees it up among the world’s elite at the American Amateur Championship which is being played at the world famous Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.

The 26-year-old will start his bid to qualify for the 64 player matchplay stage at 6.12pm (Irish time) on Monday on Pinehurst’s famed No.2 course which has hosted more single golf championships than any other course in America and will stage the US Open in 2024 having last staged it in 2014. His second round on Tuesday will be at 12.57pm on Pinehurst No.4 and he will play both rounds in the company of Americans Pierceson Coody and Ryan Burnett.

Rafferty flew out to America last Thursday in the company of British Amateur Champion James Sugure from Mallow and Australian Amateur Champion Conor Purcell from Portmarnock and admits having his Irish team-mates with him this week will be a big help.

“We’re sharing a house and hopefully all of us will be here until the final day,” said Rafferty. Rafferty, who has already won the West of Ireland Championship this year, played in Arizona last December and hopes that experience will help him.

“It probably wasn’t the best time of the year for me to go over but it was a good experience because it is different and I hope it will help me this week.”

Rafferty’s big goal this year is to make the Britain and Ireland team for the Walker Cup in Royal Liverpool next month and with the ten-man team set to be named next week he knows that a good performance in Pinehurst will be a big help to his chances.

“I’ve just got to keep doing what I have been doing and hopefully it will be good enough to get me a place. But you never know what could happen,” he said.

Rafferty’s involvement in the American Amateur meant he missed the Irish Close Championship in Ballybunion where his club-mate, and Barton Shield partner, Eoin Murphy flew the flag for Dundalk with some distinction.

Murphy recorded his best ever performance at a senior championship by reaching the quarter-finals where he lost 3&1 to Dun Laoghaire’s Alan Fahy,

After shooting rounds of 75 and 71 to qualify in 19th place on +4, Murphy beat William Small (Tandragee), Kevin Stack (Dungarvan) and Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) in the matchplay rounds to reach the last eight.

It was a good week too for Josh Mackin as the Ulster Boys Champions played for Ireland in the Boys Home Internationals in Wales where they came within a whisker of dethroning champions England.

Mackin formed a superb foursomes partnership with Royal Dublin’s Max Faulkner and the pair won all three of their matches against Scotland, Wales and England while in the singles Mackin gained half-a-point against Scotland, won his match against Wales and was agonisingly beaten by one hole by England’s Max Hopkins as Ireland lost 8-7 to the English.

A haul of four-and-a-half points out of a possible six was an excellent return and caps what has been a fine year to date for the 18-year-old. Finally, Brendan Lawlor continues to blaze a trail for disability golf and this week he will tee it up against male and female professionals at the ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle. This is a tournament where men and women will compete at the same venue at the same time with the professionals sharing equal prize money.

“I believe this will be the first time a disability golfer will compete on the same stage over the same course as the professionals in a Challenge Tour event,” said Lawlor who is a member of Dundalk’s Senior Panel.     

Dundalk retains Leinster Barton Shield pennant

Our Senior Panel have retained the Leinster Barton Shield and booked their place in the All-Ireland semi-final in Westport at the end of September.

Last Saturday at Royal Tara Golf Club, Dundalk beat Woodbrook in the provincial semi-final in the morning before defeating The Island in the final to win a second successive senior pennant.

“Last year was the first time since the Club was founded in 1905 that we won a senior pennant so to have gone out this year and retained it is very special and a great achievement by the lads,” said John Conlon who jointly manages the team with Alan McCabe.

“But it is only a step towards our ultimate goal this year which is to win the All-Ireland title. We were very disappointed to lose in last year’s final and our whole focus this year has been on getting back to the national final and bringing a green pennant back to Dundalk.”

The Barton Shield is a competition for elite players with two two-man pairings playing, off scratch, in a foursomes matchplay format and the match being decided by the aggregate number of holes won.

Dundalk got a massive boost on the eve of the Leinster finals when Caolan Rafferty announced he was available to play after being knocked out in the second round of the South of Ireland Championship on Friday evening.

“We were planning without Caolan because he was the defending champion in the South of Ireland and we were all hoping that he would be in the mix over the weekend,” said Conlon. “It is testament to the type of person he is that immediately after losing on the 20th hole of his second round match, he got into his car and phoned to say he was on his way back and would be in Navan in the morning.”

Quite how Woodbrook felt when the plus six handicapper, who has been named on the 14 man panel from which the ten players to represent Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup will be picked, teed it up isn’t known, but after winning the first hole they must have felt they were going to benefit from a post-Lahinch hangover.

It proved to be a short-lived feeling because on the second hole Rafferty fired an approach shot to 15 feet and his partner Eoin Murphy sank the birdie putt to bring the match back to all-square.

At the next hole, the Dundalk pairing went one up after Woodbrook put their third shot in the bushes behind the green and stretched their lead to two holes on the par four sixth when Murphy drove around the dog-leg to within 10 yards of the front of the green and Rafferty chipped in for an eagle two.

Although they lost the seventh they turned for home three up after winning the eighth and ninth with birdies. They lost the tenth but restored their three shot advantage on the 12th.

It was clear at this stage that this match was going to decide who would advance to the final because up ahead Josh Mackin and Brendan Lawlor were heading for defeat after a frustrating morning on the greens.

After losing the first hole, they got back to all square by winning the third in par. However, they lost the fourth, sixth and seventh to fall three holes behind by the turn. The Dundalk pairing did rally on the back nine by winning the tenth and 13th to reduce the deficit to one hole but then lost the 14th to birdie and the 15th to par to find themselves three behind again with just three holes to go.

By this point it was a case of limit the damage and hope Rafferty and Murphy in the match behind could win by more than they lost. The youngsters dug deep to win the par five 18th where Mackin found the fairway, Lawlor drilled a two iron 260 yards to off the back of the green, Mackin chipped on to three feet and Lawlor sank the birdie putt.

As that putt dropped, Murphy was pitching in to 10 feet on the 17th and when Woodbrook missed their birdie putt from 30 feet, Rafferty lagged his putt to the edge of the hole and Dundalk’s place in the afternoon final was secured.

The other semi-final between The Island and Palmerstown House went to 19th Hole, giving the Dundalk players some extra time to recover before the final. The managers made one change for the afternoon with the experienced Aaron Grant coming in for debutant Brendan Lawlor as Josh Mackin’s partner in the top match.

“It was great to give Brendan his Barton Shield debut and let him get some very valuable playing time. His approach shot and putt on 18 were crucial to the win in the morning and being able to bring in a fresh and experienced Aaron Grant in the afternoon was a big boost,” said Conlon.

After halving the first three holes of their match against Jonathon Quinn and Rhys Clarke, Grant and Mackin got their noses in front by winning the fourth with a birdie. They extended their lead to two holes by winning the ninth with a birdie but then bogeyed the par three 13th to go back to one up.

Behind them, things didn’t start so well as Rafferty and Murphy lost the first two holes to birdies from Fergal Kennedy and Jack Blake, but they won the third and brought the match back to all square on the seventh when Murphy holed a testy left to right breaking putt following a sublime chip from Rafferty from the back of the green.

A superb tee shot from Rafferty on the par three 11th to six feet set up Murphy for a birdie that put the Dundalk pairing in front for the first time and they followed that up with birdies on the next two holes as Murphy drained putts from 20 and 15 feet respectively to go three up with five to play.

The next three holes were halved and as the two Dundalk pairings went down the 17th they were lying four up overall with four to play. It all ended when Aaron Grant cooly sank a six foot putt to win the 17th in his match and seal a five hole victory for the defending champions.

“The Club is extremely proud of our Senior Panel who have worked very hard over the last number of years to become Leinster champions,” said Dundalk Club Captain Pat Davis.

“It was a massive breakthough last year to win our first senior pennant and reach the All-Ireland Final and to retain it is a tremendous achievement. I would like to congratulate the managers, the players, the caddies and our club professional Leslie Walker for a job well done and we are all looking forward to going to Westport in September and having another shot at winning the national title.”