Padraig Harrington and Paul Dunne lead Irish charge at Portstewart

Padraig Harrington begins the third round six shots off the lead

RORY McIlroy and Graeme McDowell may be gone but there's still hope for a home victory at Portstewart this weekend. Michael McWilliams reviews the performances of the Irish players in with a chance of making a mark over the weekend

Paul Dunne (-8)

THE Greystones youngster heads the home charge after two days, adding a three-under round of 69 to his opening 67 to lie five shots off the pace and well placed to make a move today.

However, Dunne wasn't entirely happy with how things went, having got off to a frustrating start over his first nine holes after starting at the 10th

“The thing that makes me frustrated more than anything is wasting shots,” he said.

“Through the 16th, seven holes, I felt like I'd wasted at least three. I three-putted from the front of the green on 12, then didn't make birdie when I'd a good chance on 13 and then 14 I was at the edge of the green and didn't make birdie.

“At 16 I'd an eight iron in for my second shot and made bogey, so out of those four shots I feel as if I definitely should have had three of them.”

Having gone to the turn in one-over, Dunne made four birdies on his second nine to play his way right back into things.

“I gave myself a lot of chances on the front nine and I think I took most of them, except maybe the sixth. I'd about eight feet for birdie there and hit a terrible putt. Apart from that I was pleased.”

Padraig Harrington (-7)

THE links master continued to show many of those a good deal younger than his 45 years how to do it with a round of 69 that got off to a bad start with a bogey but soon got better.

Harrington made a two at the

par-three third and followed it up with another birdie at the long fourth and a three at the eighth to turn at two-under for the day.

More shots were picked up at 11 and 14 before a bogey at 16 took the gloss off the day a little, and Harrington wasn't blown away by his form.

“Same as yesterday, kind of average,” was his assessment, although he wasn't ruling out his chances of a second Irish Open win.

“Six shots is a lot to make up but I like where my game is at.”

Gavin Moynihan (-6)

A TWO-TIME Walker Cup star as an amateur, the Dubliner made his second successive Irish Open cut thanks to a one-under 71 that was a rollercoaster at times.

Six birdies were mixed with five bogeys, including three in the space of five holes from the first, but Moynihan will be hoping to cut out the mistakes and push on up the leaderboard from his current position of 30th going into the weekend.

Shane Lowry (-5)

ON Thursday, Lowry (below left) pointed out that the Lions Test this morning was a good incentive to have a late Saturday tee-time, so he will be kicking himself after bogeying his last two holes on day two to drop back to five-under.

The Offaly man goes off at 9.25am today in the company of Australian Scott Hend, but things were looking a fair bit better when he got to seven-under after four birdies and just one dropped shot his first 16 holes.

That poor finish could be costly, not just in terms of a morning off but also to his hopes of winning tomorrow evening.

Michael Hoey (-4)

HOEY made the cut with nothing to spare after a largely uneventful level-par round of 72.

Starting at the 10th, the Belfast man went to the turn in one-over with a dropped shot at the 17th the only deviation from par.

Birdies at seven and nine then sandwiched a bogey five at eight to see Hoey (below) off early at 8.50am this morning.

Missed the cut

GRAEME McDowell (-2), Dermot McElroy (level), Niall O'Briain (level), Rory McIlroy (+1), Gary Hurley (+1), Damien McGrane (+1), Simon Thornton (+1), Richard Kilpatrick (+2),

Colm Moriarty (+4), Darren Clarke (+8), Paul McGinley (+8)

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