Simon Thornton fired himself into contention at the Madeira Islands Open – BPI Portugal with a second-round of 66, and then confirmed that he will see the tournament out even if his wife goes into labour as expected this weekend.

With the impending birth of his first child doubtless on his mind, the Yorkshire-born star recorded only one bogey in his six-under par round and lies in third place at ten-under par, trailing England’s James Morrison by two shots.

Early birdies at one, three and five gave Thornton the perfect foundation on which to build his round and he capitalised on his good start with four further birdies.

After finding himself in contention to seal his first European Tour win the Challenge Tour graduate admitted that even if he receives word that his wife has gone into labour he will not be heading home.

“I won’t leave, no. We made that decision before I came here. It’s been nice spending the last few weeks together and now we’re approaching D-Day as such.

“There was a lot of debate over whether I’d come this week but because of the lack of opportunities in the last month I had to come and play it.

“If I’d not come here and taken a couple of weeks off then all of a sudden you get a card but not taking the opportunities, I had to come.

“I keep checking my phone all the time. There’s no word yet.”

Michael Hoey was the only other Irishman who made it to the weekend despite good rounds from Gary Murphy and Gareth Shaw.

Hoey added a 68 to his opening 72 to leave himself inside the top 20 at four-under.

Looking to take advantage of some high-profile absences this week Hoey claimed seven birdies on Friday. Although he dropped shots with a double bogey at the fifth and a bogey at the 11th the Ulsterman has plenty to be pleased with going into the weekend.

Kilkenny’s Gary Murphy came within a stroke of making the level par cut but his round of 69 was just one shot short of what he needed.

Gareth Shaw signed for a one-under par 69 to miss the weekend by three, while Niall Kearney and Colm Moriarty are also heading home after scores of 80 and 77 respectively.