Big-hitting Martina Gillen fired a superb 69 to lead the Irish challenge and leave the Maguire twins in the shade in the AIB Ladies Irish Open at sun-kissed Portmarnock Links.

The Dubliner, 27, had five birdies and two bogeys to trail leaders Maria Hjorth of Sweden and Julie Greciet of France by just two shots on three under par.

“I’m delighted because I have never played well around here,” said Gillen, who hit 15 greens in regulation and holed a 45 footer for her fifth birdie of the day at the par-three 17th.

“A win? I don’t know. I’m just looking for a good solid round tomorrow and then take my chances on Sunday."

Just two of the 10-strong Irish contingent broke par with Carlow rookie Tara Delaney sharing 11th spot after a 70.

Leona Maguire was the best of the 14-year old Cavan twins, firing a two over par 74 to beat her playing partner and four-time major winner Laura Davies by a shot and tie for 46th place with Royal County Down amateur Danielle McVeigh.

“I haven’t got a crystal ball, but who knows, they might be the best players in the world in ten years time,” said Davies, who struggled off the tee.

“All the ingredients are there. You can’t not be impressed. Fabulous. Leona hits it very straight and pretty long too - and she will get longer and longer as well.

“She hits good irons and her putting looks really solid. You can’t say much more really. I assume Lisa is just the same. Leona shot two over today and played a lot better than I did. She beat me hands down.”

Leona was delighted with her opening effort and another 74 today will see her comfortably make the halfway cut.

"I played really well today and my putting was really good and I didn’t miss many fairways,” Leona said."Plus two isn’t so bad. There are a lot of pros who would like to have shot that today. I am pretty happy.”

Hjorth and Graciet have a one stroke lead over six players including two time Solheim Cup star Gwladys Nocera of France and England's Melissa Reid, who is third in the Ladies European Tour money list.

67-Julie Greciet (FRA), Maria Hjorth (SWE)

68-Gwladys Nocera (FRA), Melissa Reid (ENG), Vikki Laing (SCO), Becky Brewerton (WAL), Diana Luna (ITA), Martina Eberl (GER)

69-Lydia Hall (WAL), Martina Gillen (IRE)

70-Samantha Head (ENG), Lisa Jean (AUS), Kiran Matharu (ENG), Rachel Jennings (Am) (ENG), Nina Reis (SWE), Paula Marti (ESP), Emma Zackrisson (SWE), Sophie Giquel (FRA), Tara Delaney (IRE), Florentyna Parker (ENG)

71-Marianne Skarpnord (NOR), Krystle Caithness (SCO), Lee-Anne Pace (SA), Maria Verchenova (RUS), Laura Cabanillas (ESP), Trish Johnson (ENG), Sophie Gustafson (SWE), Christel Boeljon (NL), Nicole Gergely (AUT)

72-Carmen Alonso (ESP), Johanna Westerberg (SWE), Dana Lacey (AUS), Beatriz Recari (ESP), Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA), Georgina Simpson (ENG), Anna Tybring (SWE)

73-Camille Fallay (FRA), Lynnette Brooky (NZ), Laurette Maritz (SA), Iben Tinning (DEN), Lisa Holm Sorensen (DEN), Rebecca Hudson (ENG), Lotta Wahlin (SWE), Lisa Hall (ENG), Linda Wessberg (SWE)

74-Claire Louise Aitken (ENG), Kylie Walker (Am) (SCO), Frances Bondad (AUS), Breanne Alicia Loucks (WAL), Joanne Mills (AUS), Jade Schaeffer (FRA), Leona Maguire (Am) (IRE), Jodi Ewart (Am) (ENG), Danielle McVeigh (Am) (IRE), Jo Pritchard (WAL), Amanda Moltke-Leth (DEN), Veronica Zorzi (ITA), Marta Prieto (ESP), Margherita Rigon (ITA), Nikki Garrett (AUS), Sophie Walker (ENG), Rhian Wyn Thomas (Am) (WAL), Lill Kristin Saether (NOR)

75-Holly Aitchison (ENG), Denise-Charlotte Becker (GER), Stacy Lee Bregman (SA), Emma Cabrera-Bello (ESP), Marian Riordan (IRE), Maria Boden (SWE), Ursula Wikstrom (FIN), Laura Davies (ENG), Tania Elosegui (ESP), Virginie Lagoutte-Clement (FRA), Riikka Hakkarainen (FIN), Joanne Morley (ENG), Federica Piovano (ITA), Ellen Smets (BEL), Eva Steinberger (AUT), Hazel Kavanagh (IRE), Felicity Johnson (ENG), Rebecca Coakley (IRE), Lynn Kenny (SCO)

76-Caroline Afonso (FRA), Anna-Karin Salmen (FIN), Mianne Bagger (DEN), Elisabeth Esterl (GER), Titiya Plucksataporn (THA), Laura Terebey (USA), Yuki Sakurai (JPN), Clare Queen (SCO), Henrietta Zuel (ENG), Lisa Maguire (Am) (IRE)

77-Pamela Pretswell (Am) (SCO), Melodie Bourdy (FRA), Stephanie Meadow (Am) (IRE), Beth Allen (USA), Bettina Hauert (GER), Stefania Croce (ITA), KM Juul (DEN), Christine Hallstrom (SWE), Lora Fairclough (ENG), Cassandra Kirkland (FRA), Barbara Genuini (FRA), Katharina Schallenberg (GER), Kirsty Taylor (ENG), Morgana Robbertze (SA), Claire Coughlan-Ryan (IRE), Marjet van der Graaff (NL)

78-Hannah Barwood (Am) (ENG), Stefanie Michl (AUT), Johanna Lundberg (SWE), Isabella Maconi (ITA), Emma Lyons (ENG), Lara Tadiotto (BEL)

79-Kathryn Imrie (SCO), Jessica Ji (KOR), Jenni Kuosa (FIN), Kirsty S Taylor (ENG), Malene Jorgensen (DEN), Elena Giraud (FRA)

80-Karen Lunn (AUS), Cecilia Ekelundh (SWE), Anna Knutsson (SWE), Pamela Feggans (SCO), Julie Tvede (DEN)

81-Zuzana Masinova (CR), Sally Watson (Am) (SCO)

82-Bronwyn Mullins-Lane (AUS), Ana B Sanchez (ESP)