Shane Lowry: Who would have thought Offaly would offer us a prince and a fairytale

After an incredible weekend of sporting glory for Ireland, Edaein O' Connell discusses the magic of Shane Lowry's win and how it unified us all.


As a known chatterbox, it's not very often I'm stuck for words but this past weekend I certainly was.

There's something about sport and being Irish that is so intrinsically linked and it's powerfully infectious. When one of our own is in the headlight of victory, we take them in and claim them as immediate family. That is what makes us special.

Shane Lowry dazzled and demolished the Royal Portrush golf course over the weekend to win The Open and his first major. And us Irish are beaming. It's not often we boast and it's rare to have the opportunity to even do so, but now we deserve it.

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The people's champion, there is something relatable about Lowry. It's both brotherly and fatherly and he could easily be your best friend or the solid acquaintance you meet on a Friday for pints. For one weekend he was everyone's cousin; we all knew him personally and would relate the story to all generations to come.

Irish pride

There is something about this unapologetic exultation that makes me so proud to be Irish. To win a Major is the dream of every golfer, but to win your first on the island you call home is something entirely more magnificent. The walk to the 18th hole, with the Fields of Athenry ringing in the background and Ole Ole Ole turning into a warrior cry ... it was hard not to be overcome with emotion even watching from afar.

Hailing from Offaly, success runs in the Lowry blood. His father was part of the 1982 Offaly team who broke the heart of Kerry when they stopped their drive for five All-Irelands in a row. It's no surprise then to see where the hunger comes from.

 

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Shane has a way of tugging at the heartstrings. Who can forget when he burst onto the scene winning the Irish Open as an amateur in 2009. He didn't get the paycheque but he got the glory, all of which added to the appeal of the Clara man.

Ten years on, he faced the biggest challenge of all to get the greatest of successes. This time he got the paycheque and the glory.

Unifying power

Because we are a small island and our international sporting glories are few and far between, when it does happen there is support like no other. Then, when outsiders get involved in the celebrations, we ignite. There is nothing better than seeing international sporting heroes and fans singing the praises of one of our own. We feel as if we helped raise him. We tell ourselves he wouldn't be where he is without us.

 

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On the 18th hole, he looked like a man who couldn't believe his luck. He struck gold in the mine but took a minute to figure out if it was real. Us Irish tend to love an underdog and we love someone who never forgets their roots.

Shane is quintessentially Irish because he didn't seem to think it was real and that it was actually happening to him. When we experience success as individuals and as a nation, it sometimes feels like we don't deserve it. In some weird post-famine rhetoric, we seem to believe that we don't deserve nice things.

However, we do. We deserve to win and we have the right to revel in the glory for as long as possible.

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When times are tough and all we seem to hear is how Brexit will end it all, sport has a funny way of making you forget for a second. We give out more than we praise our country, but when something spectacular happens we unify. For one moment time stops. And one man playing golf can transport you to a dream world.

All in

My beloved Kerry drew against a defiant Donegal in the Super 8s yesterday. In between the screams and heckling, I took a minute to look around Croke Park the people gathered there. Packed lunches with ham sandwiches on tap. Sons and daughters begging their mothers for chips. I saw children with their mouths open in awe at the sheer size and spectacle that is Croke Park. The stood, watching their heroes play for the love of the jersey and dreaming that one day they could be there too.

It's amazing how sport can take you away. For 70 minutes, you are all in and nothing else matters.

Over the course of four days, the nation of Ireland was behind one kind Offaly prince in his real-life fairytale. It was majesty in motion and on a rainy summer Sunday, Shane and Ireland were on top of the world.

There was something weirdly thrilling about hearing random cries of 'C'MON OFFALY' in a game so dominated by the affluent.

It was pure excitement. It was pure pride. It was pure Offaly.

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And it was pure magic.


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