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Leona steps up defence

Leona Maguire stepped up the defence of her Portuguese Ladies Open Amateur title in difficult conditions in Lisbon yesterday.

The teenage star from Slieve Russell posted a two-over-par 74, a score not bettered by any of the leading competitors, for a 36-hole total of 146.

At the halfway stage, she lies in joint sixth place, six strokes behind Roberta Roeller and just two adrift of second-placed player Anne Hakula.

Leona's twin sister Lisa is on 149 after a 76 yesterday on the Montado course. Cork's Gillian O'Leary is the best of the rest of the Irish with a score of 150 -- she is in joint 15th place -- with Jean O'Driscoll and Aedin Murphy from Carlow both on 154, and Paula Grant recording 155.

Sarah Cunningham of Ennis improved by five strokes on her Thursday performance, firing a 78, but with a total of 161 appears to be out of contention.

Meanwhile, Dubliner Richard O'Donovan continues to lead the Irish challenge at the halfway stage of the Lake Macquarie tournament in Australia.

The Lucan man posted a one-under-par 71 yesterday at Belmont, north of Sydney, to add to his 70 of the previous day for a 141 total.

O'Donovan is in a share of 23rd place, eight strokes adrift of leader Daniel Nesbit.

West Waterford's Gary Hurley and Reeve Whitson of Mourne are both on 143, sharing 37th place.

Irish Independent