McIlroy, who at 16 became the youngest-ever winner of the Irish Close earlier in the year, fired a one-under par 71 to add to his 69 of the previous day for a halfway score of 140.
He goes into the third and penultimate round this morning in joint second spot only one stroke behind leader Alvaro Velasco, the highly-rated Italian.
With one of the rewards for victory being a place in next year’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool the competition is fierce and the rivalry keen.
McIlroy was again very steady yesterday hardly putting a foot wrong. “I was just determined to keep out of trouble and that I managed to do,” said the Holywood teenager.
Darren Crowe from Dunmurry made a significant forward move in the championship posting an excellent 67, eight strokes better than on Wednesday.
Crowe knocked in putts from sizeable distances on several greens and declared himself very happy with his overall display. “I hit the ball well and my putter was hot,” said Crowe.
Amateur Champion Brian McElhinney from North West, just getting over jet lag after returning from the Walker Cup, did well to hand in a 70 for a 145 total while Michael McGeedy, Mervyn Owens, Cian McNamara and Conor Doran are well down the field.
Meanwhile at Nairn in the north of Scotland, Cork’s Claire Coughlan was the only Irish player to survive the halfway cut in the Ladies British Open stroke-play championship.