The 20-year-old international, who washed away the fatigue of his Home Internationals heroics with a dip in the Atlantic, fired four birdie and two bogeys on the Glashedy Links to trail Co Louth’s Thomas Mulligan by a stroke.
The objective is to make the leading 64 after today’s second round and go through to the matchplay stages tomorrow.
But Dawson was still pleased with his opening effort, which was compiled in southerly winds that gusted as high as 25 mph and allowed just a four players to break par.
“Very pleased in those conditions,” Dawson said. “It was really stress-free golf. A lot of fairways and greens. I didn’t put myself under pressure out there at all really. It was very enjoyable. No complaints.”
One of the key singles winners in Ireland’s third successive Home Internationals win in Scotland on Sunday, Dawson said he felt no fatigue despite the hectic schedule.
“Very refreshed,” he said. “I had a swim in the sea yesterday as well. I’m feeling really fresh and ready to go again tomorrow.
“I had a really nice birdie on the 13th, that was definitely one shot up on the field. Back right pin. Hit driver, 2 iron and then hit 9 iron from 100 yards and then holed a 12-footer, always nice to see 12 footers go in.
“I birdied 17, hit a 9-iron from 100 yards to about three feet. My wedge play was really good in those conditions.”
Bunkered off the tee at the ninth, he got up and down from 80 yards for par, holing a four footer for 70. Pace-setter Mulligan, 17, was called up to the Great Britain and Ireland Jacques Legilise team earlier this week and the Co Louth star was thrilled with his three under 69.
“I thought a score around 75 would be good today because it’s quite windy. But I played quite well and I’ve been playing well coming into it.”
That said, Mulligan is not getting ahead of himself after losing 9 and 7 to Robbie Pierse in the last 16 in Tramore 12 months ago.
“It would be unbelievable but there’s a hell of a long way to go,” Mulligan said. “Last year I came second in qualifying and I then I was walloped in the last 16 so I’ll just take it round by round and just keep trying to build on it.”
Irish Amateur Open champion Colm Campbell from Warrenpoint carded a one under 71 with his only dropped shot coming at his final hole, the ninth.
“It would have been nice to get in bogey-free,” said Campbell, who finished the day tied with Irish team mate and 2014 champion John Ross Galbraith despite having to play club golf on Sunday.
“It’s not playing easy in any shape or form. One under, I would have taken it at the start of the day.”
There were many victims of the weather with Castle’s Alex Gleeson shooting 79, Mullingar Scratch Cup winner Ronan Mullarney an 81, and Waterford’s Eanna Griffin, 83.
T Mulligan (Co Louth)
R Dawson (Tramore)
C Campbell Jnr (Warrenpoint), J-R Galbraith (Whitehead)
C Rafferty (Dundalk)
J Pierse (Portmarnock), C O’Rourke (Naas)
M Ryan (New Ross), O Crooks (Bushfoot)
J Hood (Galgorm Castle), J Sugrue (Mallow), R Cannon (Balbriggan), G Collins (Rosslare), K McCarron (North West), A Lowry (Esker Hills)
R Knightly (The Royal Dublin), P Kerr (Royal Portrush), S Broe (Forrest Little), J Whelan (Newlands), P Cummins (Lurgan), T McLarnon (Massereene), P Murphy (Rosslare), M Young (Ring Of Kerry)
R Pierse (Grange), J Murphy (Kinsale), J Yates (Naas), P Kelly (Co Armagh), A McDaid (Palmerstown Stud), G Mallon (North West), G Lappin (Belvoir Park)
J McDonnell (Forrest Little), J Hickey (Cork), P Doherty (Ballyliffin), M Morrissey (Mount Wolseley), R Williamson (Holywood), G Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick), R Brazill (Naas), W Russell (Clandeboye), B Best (Rathmore), M Norton (Belvoir Park), C Fairweather (Knock), J Cleary (Elm Park)
C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown), C Hughes (Galway), D O’Connor (Athlone), E Smith (Ardee), A Gaynor (Co. Sligo), A Gleeson (Castle), TJ Ford (Co. Sligo), R Dutton (Tandragee), S O’Connor (Castlebar), I Lynch (Rosslare), M Fitzsimons (Ardglass), W Small (Tandragee), S Barker (Mourne), A Kearney (Castlerock), M Nolan (Delgany), M Timmins (Coollattin), G Arthur (Carrickfergus), J Lyons (Galway)
A Myles (Newlands), C Nolan (Galway), A Grant (Dundalk), S Greenberg (Tandragee), A Hickey (Ballyhaunis)
R Mullarney (Galway), F Kennedy (The Island), D Foy (Laytown & Bettystown), H Foley (The Royal Dublin), C Butler (Kinsale), M McCormack (Ashbourne), M McCormick (Ireland), G Ward (Kinsale), M McKinstry (Cairndhu), N Conway (Grange), R O’Connor (Co Sligo), D O’Connor (Fota Island), R Steedman (Courtown), G Lenehan (Portmarnock), K Lynch (Skibbereen)
R O’Doherty (Enniscrone), D Brady (Co Sligo), J Walsh (Castle), T Collins (Dun Laoghaire), A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire), S Lindsay (Bangor), A Doherty (Corrstown), R Tighe (Elm Park), N McKinstry (Cairndhu), T Cleary (Woodstock), M Reid (Galgorm Castle), J McVicker (Knock)
G Mann (Tullamore), E Farrell (Ardee), E McCormack (Galway Bay), D Vaughan (Ardglass), J Maginn (Mourne), D Reddan Jnr (Nenagh), L Grehan (Mullingar), P Hasson (City of Derry), A Magee (Powerscourt), A Claffey (Elm Park), R Moran (Castle), P McKeever (Castle), E Griffin (Waterford), K Quigg (North West), M Dallat (Galgorm Castle)
H Gillivan (Westport), J Blake (The Island), C McGoldrick (Enniscrone), B Murray (Waterford Castle), M Sinclair (Knock), J Temple (Portmarnock), A Mulhall (Ardglass), L Bradley (North West)
B Murray (Waterford Castle), P Tobin (Cork), J Conway (Donegal), C Feeney (Co Sligo), J McCarthy (Stackstown)
A McQuillan (Cushendall), G Dunne (Co Louth), J Fletcher (Warrenpoint)
B Devlin (Ballyliffin), S Kinch (Hollystown), C Kenny (Portmarnock), E O’Brien (Clontarf), R O’Callaghan (Mannan Castle)
L O’Dwyer (Forrest Little), J Logue (Hilton Templepatrick), S O’Hara (Co Sligo), C Woodroofe (Blainroe), C Ryan (Dun Laoghaire)
D Conlon (Athenry), S Crilly (Co Louth)
P Kane (Ashbourne), T Harman (Balmoral)
J Ward (Banbridge).