Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington will battle head to head to mark the official opening of the spectacular Lough Erne Resort on July 22.

But before Ireland’s big two clash in County Fermanagh, they are determined to keep Irish sports fans in celebration mode after Saturday’s Grand Slam rugby victory and Bernard Dunne’s amazing world title triumph.

Jim Treacy, owner of the Lough Erne Golf Resort, with the club's touring professional Rory McIlroySet to bid for the third leg of the Paddy Slam at the Masters, Harrington knows the country expects him to deliver big time while teenager McIlroy is already one of the favourites to challenge for the green jacket.

Speaking on satellite link up from Bay Hill, Harrington said: “I didn’t go to the rugby but I did sit and watch it and it was incredible exciting. The hype and adrenaline after it was unbelievable. The country was on a high.

“Then for Bernard Dunne to not just win the world title but the way he went about winning it, that was nice watching as well.

“It does add to expectations for everybody Irish going into the Masters. I think the Irish people are looking for three in a row. They want everything, which is nice.

“The economy isn’t the best at the moment but it’s nice that we are achieving in the sporting world and bringing the spirits up that way.

“I think maybe the success Ireland has had over the weekend, maybe they're hoping things will keep going that way in the next couple weeks.”

McIlroy will be making his debut at Augusta and trying to become the first rookie to win the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller 30 years ago.

And he hopes he can leave the hype aside and give Irish fans another thrill when he blasts his first drive at Augusta National.

But he’s really looking forward to taking on Harrington, who he describes as an inspiration for him as he starts his professional career.

Already using Harrington’s putting coach, Paul Hurrion, McIlroy said: “Everything he’s doing, how he handles the pressure on his shoulders, has been tremendous. I’ve been spurred on by his achievements and it’s great to have someone there to inspire you like that.

“It was a great weekend for Irish sport. Hopefully we’ll have a few more to come this year.”

The “Duel on the Lough” will take place the Wednesday after The Open at Turnberry to mark the official opening of the Nick Faldo designed golf course where McIlroy is the touring professional.

And Harrington knows he’s in for a hell of a challenge from the teenager, 19, when he plays for the first time as a professional in Northern Ireland.

Harrington said: “The tough part is I’m playing Rory. Maybe you should have organised a bit softer opposition for my first time back up to Northern Ireland.

“It was tough when I was playing Garth McGimpsey and the others but I think it’ll be even tougher when I play Rory.

“Probably the most impressive thing with Rory is what most people won’t see. He’s obviously very comfortable with his ability to hit the golf ball and that comes naturally to him. 

“What most people don’t see is the amount of effort and work he’s putting into what he would recognise as the weaker parts of his game because he knows that this is going to bring him to the very top."

Harrington and McIlroy first coincided on the 18th green at Carnoustie in 2007, when the Dubliner lifted the Claret Jug for the first time and congratulated the young Ulsterman on winning the Silver Medal awarded to the leading amateur.

At the time, Harrington said: "I'd like to congratulate Rory on his fine achievement. I'm glad I got in before he wins one. I am sure he will win a few Open Championships in the future. He is a fine talent and he proved it this week."

McIlroy is amazed he has come so far in the intervening months, explaining: "Standing on the 18th green at Carnoustie that time and, obviously, being thrilled to win the silver medal, Padraig obviously receiving the Claret Jug. It was a special moment and he said some very kind things about me in his speech and it’s something I’ll never forget. Looking back I was thinking to myself I’d love to be able to get my hands on that Claret Jug one day but I never thought everything would happen so fast.

"I’ve exceeded my own expectations to be honest but it’s been a great journey. As Padraig said, I did well to get my card at the end of 2007, had a bit of a bumpy period in the middle of last year, came out of it and had a great finish to the year and had a good start to this year as well.

"It’s been a bit of a whirlwind but even to get to play with Padraig is just … If I’d have thought of it a couple of years ago would have been beyond my wildest dreams. To see where I’ve come in such a short space of time is pretty cool and I think it shows a lot of younger golfers coming up through the amateur ranks what’s possible. I think golf is looking very good for the future, not just in Northern Ireland but Ireland and Europe in general."

Harrington is not surprised that McIlroy has made an impact in the professional game. But he is even more impressed by the way the young tyro has applied himself to his new career.

Looking back at Carnoustie, where McIlroy opened with the only bogey free round of the day (68) to share third place, Harrington said: "We all knew the potential of Rory at that stage and not just because he’d won the silver medal. It was well documented because of what he had achieved on the amateur stage. I suppose I never would have realised it would come around so quick.

"Not only has Rory advanced his own game over those years but has probably taken it to a new level in the professional game and, in the short term, has far exceeded everything. It wasn’t like it was made easy for him at the start. He had to work hard to get his card and had to follow it up the next year. He’s served his time and really has come a long way and is all the stronger for it."

Looking forward to his duel with McIlroy, Harrington added: "I’ll be trying hard on that day because I know if I’m not on my game, things won’t look good for me."

McIlroy was almost blushing as Harrington showered him in compliments, joking: “You’re giving me a big head.”

But Harrington hit back, quipping: “With that head of hair, you already have a big head!”

The banter has started but Ireland’s golfing gods plan to do the talking with their clubs over the next few months as the Masters, the US Open and the Open beckon. They could be even bigger stars when they clash at Lough Erne and nobody will be in the least bit surprised.