Kehoe the Cinderella Man

By Brian Keogh

Cinderella man Justin Kehoe feels ready to grab some golfing glory thanks to Padraig Harrington's inspirational Open victory.

The Shinrone swinger is just six shots off the lead entering the last two rounds of the Challenge of Ireland at Glasson Golf Hotel near Athlone.

And he's determined to ride the wave of enthusiasm that has swept him along since he played in the Open two weeks ago.

After grinding out a solid 73 to share eighth place with Ulsterman Gareth Maybin on two-under par, Kehoe believes he still has a chance of catching leader Michael Lorenzo-Vera of France.

He said: "My goal at the start of the week was to win and that hasn't changed. Obviously I am going to need a couple of low ones over the weekend to get up into position to do that.

"If you win you are exempt for the rest of the year and a top 10 would get me into next week's event in Scotland .

"I am trying to do as well as I can and get as much money as I can up on the board. I don't know how many Challenge Tour starts I will get this year so I am just going to try and maximise the opportunities I get."

Kehoe, 27, might not have a Challenge Tour card this year but he has bags of confidence again after coming through Regional and Local Final Qualifying to tee it up at Carnoustie.

He said: "To be part of the whole experience was incredible. I played a practice round with John Daly and I was on the range with all the fellas, including Tiger, Vijay Singh and Padraig Harrington as well.

"The fact that Padraig won made it extra special. It was incredible. I wouldn't swap it for the world.

"I was disappointed with the way I finished my two rounds. But I learned that making a living on tour is not beyond me.

"It gave me great inspiration, great motivation just to see that while they are very, very good, it is not an unattainable stand by any stretch of the imagination.

"Harrington is the best inspiration, He has come through the exact same system as I have and lot of the other lads here. It is great motivation for the rest of us."

French ace Lorenzo-Vera hit a 73 in tough conditions to lead by three shots on eight under as Welshman Liam Bond fired a best of the day 66 share second place with Swedes Magnus Carlsson and Fredrik Widmark.

Ballyclare ace Maybin - who has made over $175,000 in three seasons on the US Hooters Tour - carded a 73 to join Kehoe on two under while 2005 Irish PGA champion David Mortimer the next best of the Irish on one-under after a fine 71.

Scoring was three shots harder than Thursday's first round and just eight of the 34 Irish challengers survived the three-over par cut.

Glasson hope Colm Moriarty made it with a shot to spare despite bogeys at the 17th and 18th in a 74 while Michael Hoey's 18 foot par save at the last helped him survive on the mark.

Kerryman Mark Murphy struggled to six over par 78 to make it on one-over par.