Published Friday, 29 June 2012
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Harrington is the best placed of the Irish bunch - he lies joint third on 10 under par after two impressive 67s at Royal Portrush, two shots behind the leader, Frenchman Gregory Bourdy.
The Dubliner, who won the tournament five years ago making him one of only two home winners since 1982, is now in contention.
Michael Hoey is on seven under, while McIlroy and Open champion Clarke both shot 69 to advance to five under and four under respectively. Graeme McDowell also stands at five under.
For world number two McIlroy, that prevented a fifth missed cut in his last six starts and, on a course where he shot a record 61, he is capable of climbing in contention over the weekend.
Clarke, who had not made a cut all season before his Portrush trip, has only one more tournament after this before he goes to Royal Lytham to defend his title.
This is the first regular European Tour event to be a complete sell-out - with over 51,000 attending over the first two days of the tournament.
'Leaders under pressure'
Padraig Harrington expects an interesting weekend at Royal Portrush, a course he describes as "great but testing" ...
That's all folks
Well that just about wraps up the thrills and spills for today.
With some people still on the course, including challengers Jeev Milkha Singh and Mikael Lundberg, the draw for tomorrow has not yet been made but it looks like Darren will be out at about 9.30am so we'll kick things off just before then.
Goodnight and goodbye... for now
After the Irish excitement let's look at how they lie:
-12 Gregory Bourdy (Fra)
-11 Mark Foster (Eng)
-10 Padraig Harrington (Ire)
-10 Lorenzo Gagli (Italy)
-10 (after seven) Paul Waring (Eng) Mikael Lundberg (Swe)
-9 Jamie Donaldson (Wal) and Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) (after 14)
Best of the Irish after Pod are Michael Hoey on -7, McIlroy, McDowell and McGinley on -5, Clarke, Lowry, Thornton and O'Sullivan on -4.
Second on his own
Amid all the Irish excitement it should not be overlooked that Mark Foster is sitting on his own in second place at -11 after birdieing his final hole of the day - the par five ninth.
A quite brilliant round of 67 with no dropped shots after dropping just one during his first round 66.
Post round reaction
Just been in the press area with Padraig and G Mac and both are naturally thrilled with their finish.
Padraig said he'd been hitting the ball great for a while and was playing within himself.
Meanwhile G Mac, with a wry smile, said: "It never crossed my mind" when I asked he was ever worried about not being around for the weekend.
Feeling the love at Portrush
Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry are all full of praise for Portrush as a venue and for the thousands of fans who've turned out to watch them ...
Struggling with speed
Rory McIlroy tells UTV he is struggling a little with Portrush's slow greens ...
Darren Clarke talks to UTV, as he looks set to make his first cut this season ...