Caolan Rafferty selected for Home Internationals

Caolan Rafferty

Caolan Rafferty, has been selected on the Ireland team which will bid for a fifth successive victory at the Home Internationals at Conwy Golf Club, Wales, from September 12 to 14.

Last week Caolan was part of a Leinster team that finished third in the Inter-Provincials at Athenry Golf Club and won 4.5pts out of a possible six over the course of the week.


McCaughey’s fine form continues

Having led home the Sunday qualifiers in the recent Captain’s Prize, and got cut as a result, Gregory McCaughey showed on Sunday that he has now adjusted to his new seven handicap when he won the Past Captain’s and Members Stableford competition.

McCaughey shot a super round of 43pts over the green course to take his first overall victory of 2018 by two points from Jimmy O’Connor (20) and Terry Conlon (7).

He got off to the best possible start by picking up nine points from the opening three holes as he scored three point birdies at one and two and a three point par at the third. Although he could only manage one point when he bogeyed the par three fifth, he more than made amends when he birdied the par five seventh for a further four points.

That helped him turn with 22pts and another three point par at the 11th was followed by three point birdies at the 13th and 14th before back to back three point pars at the 15th and 16th. He could even afford the luxury of no points at the 18th, following a double bogey six, and still win by two clear points.

It was also a day to remember for 11 handicapper Brian McDonnell who had a hole in one at the fifth as his wedge, from 120 metres off the tee and into the wind, took two hops before rolling into the hole.

Brendan Keane (11), Bobby McCarthy (16) and Mark Coan (26) took the category prizes with Cillian Halpenny (20) taking the juvenile prize.

Two members of the club’s Senior Panel, who are currently preparing for the Barton Shield All-Ireland Finals in Thurles in October, also featured among the prizes after excellent rounds. Eoin Murphy (+1) took the Gross Prize with 39pts while Conor Curran (2) was second in Category 1 with 40pts.

Sunday, August 26 – Past Captains and Members Stableford Competition – Overall: Gregory McCaughey (7) 43pts, Jimmy O’Connor (20) 41pts, Terry Conlon (7) 41/19pts. Category 1 (0-11): Brendan Keane (11) 41pts, Conor Curran (2) 40/22pts. Category 2 (12-17): Bobby McCarthy (16) 40/21/12/6pts, Kenneth Cairns (14) 40/21. Category 3 (18+): Mark Coan (26) 40/19/13pts, Sean O’Sullivan (18) 40. Best Gross: Eoin Murphy (+1) 39pts. Juvenile: Cillian Halpenny (20) 43pts. CSS 70/38pts.

County titles for Boys U18 and U15 teams

Dundalk Golf Club’s Boys’ U18 Monarch Cup winning team. From left: Zak Alderdice, Michael Staunton, Paul Malone (manager), Vincent Conlon (manager), Conor Murphy, Declan Curtin, Joseph Laverty. Absent: Sean Laverty.

THE inter-cub juvenile season finished on a high for the club as our Boys U18, U15 and U13 teams reached three county finals and won two of them recently at Ardee Golf Club.

The U18s won the Monarch Trophy for the fourth time in five years and completed an impressive three-in-row in the process. They beat Co Louth in the semi-final with Zak Alderdice & Declan Curtin and Michael Staunton & Conor Murphy both winning 2&1 to secure the win. In the final against Ardee, Staunton & Murphy sealed their victory on the 13th but Alderdice & Curtin were beaten the 15th leaving the match delicately poised with Dundalk’s hopes resting on cousins Sean and Joseph Laverty. They had been three down after nine but got the match back to all square by the 15th and then won the 16th and 17th to snatch a 2&1 win and secure the winning point for Dundalk. It was a great win for Dundalk who used 12 different players throughout the competition and fielded five U16s in the final. It was Dundalk’s 11th win in the competition since it started in 1991.

The U15s claimed their third Seapoint Trophy with wins over Greenore in the semi-final and Co Louth in the final. The team was Tom Dunne, Christopher Clarke, Cillian Halpenny and James Reilly with Fionn Duffy as the unused sub. It’s been a great year for Cillian Halpenny as he was named Juvenile Golfer of the Year and the end of season awards night last week.

The U13s just missed out making it a treble for Dundalk as they went down to Greenore in the final of the McCooey Cassidy Trophy having beaten Co Louth in the semi-final. This was another very young team and there is no doubt that Lee Egan, Cian Spaight, Rory Henry and Eoin Purton as well as the unused subs Ben Cahill and Sean Spaight are ones to watch in the coming years.

Dundalk Golf Club’s Boys’ U15 Seapoint Trophy winning team. From left: Paul Malone (manager), Fionn Duffy, James Reilly, Chris Clarke, Jim Carragher (manager), Tom Dunne, Cillian Halpenny, Vincent Conlon (manager)

McKenna edges out Ward in Sunday shoot-out

Dermot McKenna and Shaun Ward both shot the lights out in Sunday’s Singles Stableford competition with McKenna taking the overall victory by a single point after shooting 45pts to nine handicapper Ward’s 44pts.

McKenna, who plays off 19 and was a member of the All-Ireland Fourball team which lost to the eventual winners Malahide in the Leinster quarter-finals, teed off at midday, a couple of hours after Sunday’s heavy rain storm had passed through the area and he took full advantage of the softer condition with two three point pars on the opening two holes. Back to back three point pars then followed at the fifth and sixth holes and the eighth and ninth holes as he reached the turn in 24 points.

Down the back nine he recorded four more three pint pars at the 10th, 15th, 17th and 18th to come home in 21pts and it was that par on the final hole which took him to 45pts and left him just out of the reach of Ward who went so close to taking the overall prize.

Conor McCaughey (5) won Category 1, David Cairns (16) took Category 2 and Conor McArdle (19) claimed Cateogry 3 while Senior Panel member Neal MacKell (2) kicked off the battle to play in the All-Ireland Barton Shield semi-final by shooting the best gross score of the day.

Sunday, August 26 – Singles Stableford – Overall: Dermot McKenna (19) 45pts, Shaun Ward (9) 44pts. Category 1 (0-11): Conor McCaughey (5) 38/21pts. Category 2 (12-17): David Cairns (16) 39pts. Category 3 (18+): Conor McArdle (19) 41pts. Best Gross: Neal MacKell (2) 36pts. Juvenile: James Murtagh (25) 42pts. CSS: 72 (36pts).



Senior Cup runs ended at semi-final stage

Eoin Murphy and caddy Peter Rogers won both their matches in Mount Juliet

DUNDALK Golf Club’s bid for an historic Leinster senior double came up short at the weekend when they were beaten by Dun Laoghaire in the provincial semi-finals of the AIG Senior Cup.

Having won the first senior pennant in the 113 year history of the club just five weeks previously, when they clinched the Barton Shield in Mount Wolseley, Dundalk’s senior panel headed to Mount Juliet hoping to add the Senior Cup pennant but it was not to be despite a battling performance.

Dundalk cleared the first hurdle on Saturday morning with a 3.5 to 1.5 win over The Island in the quarter-finals but went down 3.5 to 1.5 to pre-tournament favourites Dun Laoghaire in the semi-final on Saturday afternoon.

“It was very tight,” said joint team manager John Conlon after the defeat against Dun Laoghaire. “There was never more than a hole or two in the difference in four of the matches throughout the afternoon but unfortunately we were the ones who were behind and chasing and in the end we just ran out of holes.”

Conlon, who along with Alan McCabe has overseen the transformation of the team into one of the strongest senior outfits in Leinster, added that despite the disappointment they would take a lot of positives from the weekend in Mount Juliet.

“it was a fabulous experience and will stand us in good stead for the All-Ireland Finals of the Barton Shield in Thurles in October. Both matches asked a lot of questions of us so we will analyse what happened and take the learnings on board..

While Dun Laoghaire coasted to an easy 4-1 win over Tullamore in their morning quarter-final, Dundalk found themselves in a battle with The Island where they showed great character to resist a late fight back from the Dubliners.

South of Ireland champion Caolan Rafferty put the first point on the board with a 3&1 win but Josh Mackin lost 3&2 as The Island drew level. A drive and a six iron to the par five 17th set up Eoin Murphy for a 2&1 win and with Conor Curran dormie two playing 17, and Aaron Grant one up playing 16, the advantage was with Dundalk.

But Curran then lost 17 to a birdie and Grant lost 16 as The Island fought back to keep the match alive.

Dundalk, however, were not be denied. Curran split the fairway on 18 and clinched the winning point when his opponent lost the hole after getting into all sorts of trouble in a lateral water hazard on the left of the final green.

With Grant’s match all square when it was called in, it meant Dundalk emerged winners by 3.5 to 1.5 and joined Dun Laoghaire, Portmarnock and Enniscorthy in the last four.

Josh Mackin was sent out first and the 17-year-old gave Dundalk the best possible start by winning the first three holes against Alan Fahy but behind him all his colleagues found themselves behind after three holes.

Mackin then lost the next four holes to par and found himself one down after seven and that became two when his opponent chipped in for birdie on nine. A great birdie on 10 saw Mackin pull one back but he then lost four of the next five holes as he fell to a 5&3 defeat.

Eoin Murphy found himself one down after finding the water on the par three third and he was trailing by two holes after 10 but he won the next three holes to go one up.

He responded impressively to losing the 14th by birdieing the 15th and then won 16th before halving the 17th in par for an excellent 2&1 win, his second victory of the day.

Aaron Grant was two down after seven but won eight and nine to get back to all square before losing 10 and 11 to again trail by two. Once again he bounced back, winning 12 and 13, to leave it all to play for with five to go.

But he lost the next three holes to lose 3&2 and leave Dun Laoghaire 2-1 ahead and needing just one more point from the two matches still playing.

Caolan Rafferty had been playing catch-up after losing the opening two holes but try as he might he was unable to peg his opponent back to all square. His day was summed up on the 17th when he found himself behind a fairway tree from where he could only play out left-handed and was unlucky to find himself behind another tree.

He eventually found the green in four but missed his long par putt and his opponent took the two putts he had to take the match by 2&1 and secure Dun Laoghaire’s place in the final.

Conor Curran was one down from the second to the ninth but won 10 to get back to all square and moved in front when he chipped in for a birdie to take the 15th. However, Rafferty’s loss meant Curran was called in and his match declared a half.

It was a disappointing defeat for Dundalk but they can still finish the season with a green pennant as they have already qualified for All Ireland Finals in Thurles in the Barton Shield where they will face Munster champions Kinsale in the semi-finals.

“Our focus will now turn to Thurles where we will be looking to win our first ever national senior title,” said Conlon. “Once again we had tremendous support in Mount Juliet, which the players greatly appreciated, and hopefully we will have a big crowd in Thurles in October.”


AIG Senior Cup Leinster Finals

Saturday, August 25


Dundalk 3.5 The Island 1.5

Dun Laoghaire 4 Tullamore 1

Portmarnock 3.5 Old Conna 1.5

Enniscorthy 3 Carton House 2


Semi Finals

Dun Laoghaire 3.5 Dundalk 1.5

Portmarnock 4 Enniscorthy 1



Dun Laoghaire 1.5 Portmarnock 3.5



Dundalk head for Mount Juliet seeking senior double


Aaron Grant

WHEN Dundalk won the AIG Barton Shield Leinster title at Mount Wolseley four weeks ago, a massive weight was lifted off the shoulders of Aaron Grant.

The 31-year-old had endured many years of heartache in the quest to be part of a successful senior team but the smile on his face when Dundalk sealed their win over Enniscorthy in the provincial final said it all.

“It’s been a long journey. I have been playing senior golf for the club since I was 15 so to finally be part of a Dundalk team that won a senior pennant was a great feeling. To go on and win an All-Ireland would be unbelievable.”

Having waited a long time to get his hands on one blue Leinster pennant, Grant now finds himself heading to Mount Juliet this weekend with his senior panel team-mates hoping to land a second when Dundalk and seven other clubs tee it up in Leinster Finals of the AIG Senior Cup.

The Senior Cup is the Holy Grail of inter-club golf club in Ireland and was first played for in 1900, five years before Dundalk Golf Club was founded. Having achieved the objective of landing a first ever senior club title last month, Grant and his team-mates are now keen to do the double.

“I believe you have got to take your chance when it comes along. We don’t know what is going to happen next year so this is a great opportunity for us and we will be doing our best to take it,” said Grant.

Dundalk qualified for the Leinster Finals after three impressive wins over Killeen Castle, Headfort and Co Louth in the regional qualifying round of the Senior Cup at Laytown & Bettystown last June.

The Dundalk squad spent the weekend in Mount Juliet preparing for the Leinster finals and according to Grant nothing is being left to chance.

“We have two great managers in Alan McCabe and John Conlon and they are brilliant. They don’t leave any stone unturned and their attention to detail is amazing. It’s great for us, as players, because it lets us concentrate on playing golf.”

One of the features of the Barton Shield Leinster Finals was the large crowd from Dundalk who made their way to Tullow and a big contingent is expected to travel to Mount Juliet on Saturday to support the team in their Leinster quarter-final against The Island.

“There is a great buzz around the club at the moment. Our success is down to a great juvenile programme that the likes of Paul Malone, Vincent Conlon, Jim Carragher and Liam Mernagh have looked after for years. Leslie Walker, our club professional, has also done a great job in bringing players through and his experience is invaluable.”

The match against The Island will tee off at 8am on Saturday morning and the format is five players playing singles matchplay off scratch. Dundalk managers Alan McCabe and John Conlon will select from an eight strong panel, every one of whom is showing good form at the moment.

“Since the Barton Shield win they have all been focused on securing one of the five places on the team to face The Island on Saturday and they have certainly given us plenty to think about. We’ll have a few tough calls to make but that’s the way we want it, everybody pushing hard for selection.” said Conlon.

If Dundalk get through, they will face the winners of the quarter-final between Dun Laoghaire and Tullamore at 2pm on Saturday. Old Conna, Portmarnock, Carton House and Enniscorthy are in the bottom half of the draw and the final is scheduled for Sunday morning at 10am.

Having battled alongside the likes of Peter Rogers, Declan Toal and Simon Waters for many years trying to make a breakthrough, Grant admits he is exciting by the potential of the current senior panel which includes the likes of newly crowned South of Ireland champion Caolan Rafferty, Boys internationals Eoin Murphy and Josh Mackin, Brendan Lawlor who is currently ranked second on the European Disabled Golfers Association Tour, as well as Conor Curran, Neal MacKell and Andrew Keenan.

“We now have the strength in depth to know that whatever five are picked to play they are capable of delivering five points,” observed Grant. “We’ve never been in that position before and the young players who are coming through are getting better and better all time.”

Little wonder that Grant is walking around with a spring in step and finally realising a dream that was first ignited many years ago when he watched his neighbour Justin McArdle hitting golf balls from the Sean O’Mahony’s pitch on the Point Road and trying to land them in the centre circle of Clancy Park.

“Justin was a big inspiration to me and I am lucky that I always got wonderful encouragement and support from my parents, my wife, Maria, and my children while others, like Terry Sloane, helped me in the early days to get to play in the boys and youths championships and events like the Mullingar Scratch Cup,” recalled Grant who famously beat a certain Rory McIllroy in 2004 at the Connacht Boys Championship in Portumna.

Grant has been a man on a mission ever since then and this weekend is merely the next chapter in what he hopes will be a year to remember for Dundalk Golf Club.

Dundalk Senior Panel: Conor Curran, Aaron Grant, Andrew Keenan, Brendan Lawlor, Neal MacKell, Josh Mackin, Eoin Murphy, Caolan Rafferty. Managers: Alan McCabe and John Conlon.


Last eight deliver for Lynch

Sunday’s Singles Stableford competition was won by 20 handicapper Paul Lynch who shot 41pts and just edged out Anthony McGuinness (20) on countback for the overall prize. Alan Uzell (18) also returned a score of 41pts but had to settle for the Category 2 prize.

For the second successive week, David Staunton (8) shot a score of 40pts but after ending up empty handed last week because of the hot scoring he did manage to make it into the prizes as he took Cateogry 1 by one point from the ever-improving Joseph Laverty. Dermot McKenna (2) took the Category 3 prize while Maurice Murphy (2) recorded the best gross score of 33pts and Fionn Duffy (25) claimed the Juvenile Prize.

Winner Lynch had two three point holes at the first and sixth and blank at the index one fourth on his way to 18pts for the opening nine and a one pointer seven at the par five 10th was definitely not a precursor to what was to unfold down the back nine as he covered the closing eight holes in 22pts.

A par four at the indext two 11th, where he had two shots, yield four points and ignited his round as he parred the next three holes to pick up a further nine points. Two bogeys over the next three holes brought him to 38 points and he then parred the par four 18th to finish on 41pts, with his superb back nine score delivering first prize on countback.

Sunday, August 19 – Singles Stableford – Overall: Paul Lynch (20) 41/23pts, Anthony Mc Guinness (20) 41pts. Category 1 (0-12): David Staunton (8) 40pts, Joseph Laverty (8) 39/20/13pts. Category 2 (13-18): Alan Uzell (18) 41pts, Pat Donaghy (13) 40pts. Category 3 (19+): Dermot Mc Kenna (20) 39pts, Graham Purcell (20) 38pts. Best Gross: Maurice J Murphy (2) 33/16pts. Juvenile: Fionn Duffy (25) 43pts. CSS: 72 (36pts)

Back nine proves the difference for O’Hanrahan

Harry O’Hanrahan produced a superb back nine to take Sunday’s Singles Stableford on countback from Senior Panel member Neal McKell who showed he is running into form as Mount Juliet looms on the horizon.

The three handicapper, who won the Junior Cup earlier this year,recorded the day’s best gross score of 39pts but his nett score of 42pts was only good enough for second overall as O’Hanrahan rolled back the years with a vintage display.

Now playing off 26, O’Hanrahan had three consecutive three pointers from the third hole as he went out in 18pts despite drawing a blank at the par three ninth.

Two more three point holes followed at the 10th and 11th and also at the 13th and 15th. But it was his par four at the long index four 16th that really made a difference to his card as the four points he picked up there, followed by two points at both the 17th and 18th saw him come home in 24 points and sign for a round of 42pts.

Alan Hurley (5) took Category 1 with 41pts, Fergal McKenna (18) claimed Category 2 while Larry Hanratty (24) took Category 3. Daniel Nordone (16) was the juvenile winner.

Sunday, August 12 – Singles Stableford – Overall: Harry O’Hanrahan (26) 42/24pts, Neal MacKell (3) 42pts. Category 1 (0-12): Alan Hurley (5) 41pts, Eddie Rocks (10) 40/22pts. Category 2 (13-18): Fergal McKenna (18) 40/20pts, Dessie Ward (13) 40pts. Category 3 (19+): Larry Hanratty (24) 41pts, Eddie McMullin (29) 40/22pts. Best Gross: Neal McKell (3) 39pts. Juvenile: Daniel Nordon (16) 37pts. CSS: 71 (37pts).




Renaghan pips Kelly to take Captain’s Prize

The winner of the 2018 Captain’s Prize at Dundalk Golf Club, Brian Og Renaghan, receives the Mick Spillane Cup from Captain Gerry Byrne


Brian Óg Renaghan was a popular winner of Gerry Byrne’s Captain Prize after he shot a two round total of 138 to win by one stroke from Eamon Kelly.

A six under par 66 in Saturday’s Qualifying Round left the six handicapper tied for the first round lead with Sunday qualifiers Gregory McCaughey (8) and Austin Carroll (15) and they were paired together in the last group as the top 30 from the qualifying rounds were seeded for the Final Round.

By the time they teed off on Sunday afternoon the final group were well aware that the experienced Michael Hamilton (16) had followed up an opening round of 74 with a 66 to set the target at 140, four under par.

Eamon Kelly (12), playing in the fifth group ahead of the joint leaders, was the first to better Hamilton’s score when he returned a 66 and signed for a two round total of 138 having posted a level par round of 72 in Saturday qualifying.

For a while it looked as though Kelly would hang on as the following groups failed to match or better his six under par total but Renaghan managed to hold things together to pip him and take the Mick Spillane Cup which is awarded each year to the winner of the Captain’s Prize.

Renaghan had produced a masterclass on Saturday in qualifying with a six under par 66 that included back to back birdies at the fifth and sixth and 14 pars as he covered the 18 holes in level par gross.

He continued in that vein by birdieing the first two holes of his second round to move to eight under for the tournament and he stretched that to 10 under with pars at the third and fourth where he had shots.

He dropped a shot at the fifth, which he bogeyed, and followed that with a triple bogey eight at the par five index 17 sixth where he racked up a triple bogey eight and fell back to six under with 12 holes to go. A par five at the index three seventh got him back to seven under par but he then dropped two shots at the par three ninth when he took a double bogey five.

That left him at five under par at turn as he turned one over for the day having the covering the opening nine in 40 gross and 37 nett.

He birdied the 10th and parred the index two 11th to go to seven under but then handed those shots back when he bogeyed the next two holes. However, a magnificent birdie three at the par four index four 16th brought him back to seven under and he parred the final two holes, where he didn’t have any shots, to return home in 37 gross and 34 nett for a gross score of 77 and a nett score of 71.

That left him on 137, seven under par, and it was enough to pip Kelly by one shot, Kelly took second place overall with Hamilton winning the Veteran’s Prize. Aaron Grant (+2) shot gross rounds of two under par 70 for a two round total of 140 and claimed the Gross Prize. Conor Curran (2), Paul O’Callaghan (11) and Trevor Giff (12) all finished on 140 nett and took the third, fourth and fifth overall prizes.

Brendan Duffy (12) on 141 took the Category One Prize with John McKeever (13) claiming the Category Two Prize on 143 while Gerry Campbell (26) took the Category Three Prize on 143.

A large crowd was present in the Clubhouse on Sunday evening for the presentation ceremony and Captain Gerry Byrne congratulated all the winners and thanked all those who played over the three days of competition as well as all those members of staff and club committees who had been involved in the organising and preparation of the event. There was a special welcome at the presentation for Gregory McCaughey as his achievement in finishing eighth at the four round World Deaf Golf Championships in Carton House recently and helping Ireland to second place in the senior team event was acknowledged.

Sunday, August 5 – Gerry Byrne’s Captain’s Prize (36 Holes) – Winner: 137 – Brian Óg Renaghan (6) 66, 71. Second: 138 – Eamon Kelly (12) 72, 66. Veteran: 140 – Michael Hamilton (16) 74, 66. Gross: 140 – Aaron Grant (+2) 70, 70. Third: 140 – Conor Curran (2) 73, 67. Fourth: 140 – Paul O’Callaghan (11) 71, 69. Fifth: 140 – Trevor Giff (12) 67, 73. Category 1 (<12): 141 – Brendan Duffy (12) 72, 69. Category 2 (13-18): 143 – John McKeever (13) 74, 69. Category 3 (19+) 143 – Gerry Campbell (26) 69, 74. Final Round (18 Holes) – Category 1 (0-11): Austin Shaw (9) 69, Kevin Barry (10) 70/32. Category 2 (12-16): Patrick McEntaggart (15) 70/33.5, David Smith (13) 70/34.5. Category 3 (17+): Sean Taaffe (20) 70, Nicholas McShane (18) 72/38. Saturday Qualifier (August 4) – Overall: Stephen Lynch (7) 70. Category 1 (0-12) David Lynch (12) 73/33. Category 2 (13-18): Alan Cole (13) 71/31.5. Category 3 (19-28): Joe Flanagan (21) 72. Sunday Qualifier (July 29): Overall; Gregory McCaughey (8) 66/33. Category 1 (0-12): Andrew Brodigan (12) 68, Barry Grennan (11) 69/32.5. Category 2 (13-18): August Carroll (15) 66, John Paul Casey (16) 67. Category 3 (19-28): Paul Lynch (22) 67, Benny O’Shaughnessy (19) 69/31.5. Qualifying Rounds – Junior: Dillon Green (5) 72, Andrew Keenan (3) 73, Juvenile: James Reilly (19) 71. CSS: Sunday Qualifier 72, Saturday Qualifier 73, Final Round 72.



Rafferty breaks into World’s top 100

Dundalk Golf Club’s Caolan Rafferty has broken into the top 100 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings following his victory at the South of Ireland Championship in Lahinch last week.

The 25-year-old jumped 84 places to 78 and he is now Ireland’s second highest ranked player behind Robin Dawson, who is ranked ninth in the world.

Rafferty also made a major move on the GUI’s Bridgestone Order of Merit after picking up 250 points for winning in Lahinch and is now fourth overall behind Dawson, Alex Gleeson and Mark Power.

With Power and Dawson not playing in this week’s Irish Close at The European Club there a huge opportunity for Rafferty to leapfrog over them in what is the final counting event of the series with 325 points on offer for the winner.

Two level par round of 71 on Saturday and Sunday saw Rafferty qualify in third place for the matchplay stages which commence on Monday.

The Irish team for the Eisenhower Trophy, which is the World Cup of amateur golf, will be announced after the Close and Rafferty is very much in contention for a place with the event scheduled to take place at Carton House in September.