Cormac Sharvin led the home charge at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open after emerging from a difficult second round just four off the leader Zander Lombard.
Padraig Harrington surrendered his lead with a second-round 73 that saw him slip back to four-under while Shane Lowry had to scramble to a 72 that left the Offaly man two-under, just inside the cut mark.
Seamus Power whipped up a sizzling 66 and is the most upwardly mobile of the Irish contingent. He's also on four-under and not without a chance heading for the weekend but it's Sharvin who's sitting prettiest.
The 26-year-old Down man required a sponsor's invited to compete at Lahinch after missing out on his European Tour card by just one shot at Q-School last November.
He's seized his opportunity with both hands, following up yesterday's brilliant 66 with a gritty 69 that left him on five-under for the tournament.
"I didn't feel like I played great today to be honest," Sharvin told RTÉ Sport afterwards.
"I didn't really have total control of the golf ball. I kind of managed myself around. Conditions dictated that as well I guess. I feel like I managed it well with what I had today."
He's the best placed Irishman in the field and ready to give it real go over the next two days.
In many respects, Sharvin insists, the pressure is now off.
"The stepping stone of the second round was always going to be the most difficult for me, to follow up a good start to one of the biggest events in the world.
"I felt like I got over that stepping stone and I think I can just go at it the weekend and see where it takes me. It's exciting."
Lombard, who was joint sixth at halfway in last year's Open but finished 67th after a closing 82 at Carnoustie, declared himself "ecstatic" to find himself in the lead after six straight missed cuts.
"I went through a bit of a bad spell, missing a few cuts by one, and it's really just been hard graft the last three months, sticking to the process with my team," the 24-year-old South African said.
"It just came together at the right time I suppose, and I'm happy with the results so far. I'm so comfortable on links golf. It's never just a normal shot. It's always a little three-quarter, a little punch, judging the wind right.
"I've had great success on links golf in my amateur career and hopefully I can take it into the weekend."
England's Eddie Pepperell is second on eight-under, one ahead of his compatriot Lee Westwood, Mexico's Abraham Ancer and Spain's Jorge Campillo are two shots off the lead, with defending champion Russell Knox another two strokes adrift thanks to an eagle on the 18th in a battling 68, with the Scot recovering from playing the first six holes in three over.