Irish Open: McIlroy misses cut as McDowell joint second

Rory McIlroy in action at the Irish Open
Rory McIlroy missed the cut at the Irish Open for a second year in a row

Northern Ireland's top two players had mixed fortunes as Rory McIlroy missed the cut and Graeme McDowell moved into joint second at the Irish Open.

McIlroy, the highest-ranked player in the field, fired a 69 after an opening 74 to finish two under.

McDowell shot a 66 to move on to eight under par, leaving him in a group of three sharing second, two behind Finland's Mikko Ilonen.

"It is very frustrating," said former world number one McIlroy.

"To make six birdies and an eagle and shoot just two under means there were a lot of mistakes and wasteful shots. To miss the cut for the second year in a row is not a nice position to be in."

McDowell happy with 66 at Irish Open

It was the second year in a row 25-year-old McIlroy has made an early exit at the Irish Open.

He needed to finish birdie-eagle to qualify for the weekend.

After managing to hole from long range on the 17th, he was unable to chip in from the front of the green on the last after a brilliant escape from the trees.

McDowell, 34, has never managed a top-10 finish in his 12 previous attempts at the Irish Open, but Friday's 66 sees him join 2009 runner-up Robert Rock and France's Romain Wattel on eight under par.

"I have played in front of many big crowds before, but maybe none as passionate here as the Irish crowd," said McDowell.

"There's nothing quite like it when a crowd is pulling for you. It's a fun experience. It is something I've have never experienced before, except perhaps at a Ryder Cup."

Ilonen, meanwhile, added a 68 to his opening course-record 64.

Italian Marco Crespi and English duo Simon Khan and Matthew Nixon are three off the pace on seven under, Nixon coming home in 31 to card a 65, the joint lowest score of the day.

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington was a shot further back after a 67, while English teenager Matt Fitzpatrick made the cut in his first event as a professional on one under after a 69.