Niall Kearney in action at the 2010 Q-School finalsFive dropped shots in the space of just two holes could have wrecked Niall Kearney’s week in the Barclays Kenya Open.

But while he slipped from third to tied 14th at the halfway stage following a two-over 73, leaving him six strokes behind leader Michiel Bothma, the 23-year old Dubliner showed some admirable fighting qualities.

He began his day by parring the six remaining holes from his unfinished first round to open with five-under par 66 that left him just a couple of shots off the lead.

It was a promising start to the week for the man who missed most of last season because of a shoulder injury and was then forced to withdraw from the opening Challenge Tour event of the season in India with food poisoning.

After opening his second round with a morale-boosting birdie at the first, the former Walker Cup player was pushing for the lead. But he made a double bogey six at the eighth and then took a triple bogey seven at the ninth to turn in 40.

He might have been forgiven for licking his wounds for the rest of the day but Kearney came home in 33 by mixing birdies at the 10th, 13th and 18th with a solitary bogey at the 450-yard 12th. 

Gary Murphy missed the cut by 13 shots as he followed his opening 79 with a 77 as Bothma’s 67 gave him a one stroke lead over the field on nine under par.