Padraig Harrington might have fallen to the young prince but he still proved he is the king of hearts at Lough Erne yesterday.

Lough Erne Golf ResortThe Dubliner was outgunned by Rory McIlroy in the "Duel on the Lough" - losing 68-70 to the Holywood hotshot in a made for TV exhibition that will be seen in 300 million homes around the world.

But the triple major winning superstar showed that there is more to him that just great golf when he broke down in tears on the 18th green when he was introduced to 12 year old Charlie Gannon, a once promising young golfer whose body has been ravaged by the effects of meningitis.

The scene tore at the heartstrings of a massive 6,000 strong crowd which packed the €40m resort outside Enniskillen to watch Ireland’s top two players battle it out on the Nick Faldo designed par-72 gem.

McIlroy claimed $200,000 of the $300,000 prize fund for the win, but he refused to accept that he now rules the roost in Irish golf.

Asked if he now had the bragging rights over Harrington, McIlroy said: “Not really. I don’t have three majors. I am nowhere near his league yet.”

The Holywood ace, 20, can’t wait to make his World Cup debut for Ireland when he lines out with his selected partner Graeme McDowell at Mission Hills from November 26-29.

But he is also looking forward to the day when Lough Erne hosts a European Tour event - a prospect that looks likely next year with the British Masters almost certain to come to Northern Ireland.

McIlroy said: “It was fantastic. It was the first time I had played a competitive round at Lough Erne. The course has come on really well.

“It was nice to win but the day was really about showcasing Lough Erne and showing everyone how good it is. This match will be seen all over the world and people will want to come and play here.

“You can see by the crowds today that Northern Ireland is crying out for a big golf tournament. The facilities here well exceed what you need to host a tour event. Hopefully a tour event will come here in the not too distant future.”

As for the World Cup, where he will become the second youngest Irishman to tee it up since Ronan Rafferty made his debut as a 19 year old in Jakarta in 1983, he joked: “Graeme passed up the opportunity to pick me last year. But it will be fantastic.

“Graeme is one of my best friends on tour. Our caddies are good friends and our dads are coming out too, it will be a great week for us.

“We will enjoy it and give it a good go. Out style of games complement each other - he’s short and straight and I am a bit long. It will be really good.”

Harrington hasn't played in the World Cup since 2006 but he reckons that McIlroy and McDowell can rekindle the kind of chemistry he enjoyed with Paul McGinley.

He said: “It has not been something that I have focussed on for the last few years. But I think Rory is wise. He is going out there, as I have done for many years, with a friend.

“There is more to the World Cup than just sending out two golfers and he has made a good choice there with Graeme.

“They are well capable of winning it and that fact they are friends will give them all the more chance, like myself and Paul McGinley when we won in 1997.”

As for Lough Erne’s future as a tour venue, Harrington added: “It is definitely good enough to host a European Tour event, you couldn’t ask for more.

“This would be one of the best venues for a tour event. It is exciting. If a tournament was here you would see a fantastically exciting event with plenty of birdies to be made out there.

“There is plenty of water and intimidation coming down the last few holes and with a top class hotel with it, it is a facility that people will come back to time and again.”

The exhibition was a thrilling encounter with McIlroy two clear at the turn and five ahead on three under par with seven holes to play.

But Harrington hit back with four birdies in the next six holes to put a respectable look on the scoreline.

He said: “When I was five shots behind I wasn’t happy about the situation, but I can live with two shots.

“When you are playing competitively you get to see what your game is like. It is a great way of spending your off-time, to see what your game is like."