Rory takes it all in his stride
LEO GRAY talks to Rory McNamara, the first Sligo winner of the West of Ireland Championship since 1950.
He's the first Sligo-born player to win the coveted West of Ireland Open Amateur Championship since 1950 but 23 years old Rory McNamara is taking it all in his stride.
Rory, a grandson of Dell Rogers and the late Tom Rogers, Tonphubble, lived in Sligo until he was three years old before the family moved to Kells in County Meath.
Because of his family's strong links with Sligo, Rory played golf regularly at Rosses Point and became a member of Co. Sligo Golf Club.
So his stunning victory in the 'West' was hailed as a great local success story.
"It was very special for myself and my family", he admitted.
Speaking to the Sligo Champion after his historic win, Rory explained that the West of Ireland Championship was always an important fixture for his family.
He says: "We used to come to Sligo regularly as a family and every Easter was always about the West of Ireland"
"I grew up with it and it was a Championship that I always wanted to win.
"So to actually go out and do it was very special. It meant a lot to me and to my family"
After losing in semi-finals in 2010 and 2012, Rory was determined to go all the way this year.
And he stamped his authority on the Championship right from the start, going through as the leading qualifier and then dominating the match-play phase.
He beat local hope Stefan O'Hara 5 and 4 in the first round of matchplay and followed up with victory over previous Champion, Rory Leonard, who had beaten him in the semi-final three years ago.
Rory maintained that impressive form over the week-end, accounting for the defending champion, Harry Diamond, in the semi-final, closing out the match on the 15th.
And then came the crowning glory - an emphatic 5 and 4 win over Muskerry's Naill Gorey in the final last Tuesday.
"I was a little anxious before the final", Rory admits, "because I knew I was so close to gettng over the line.
"The first few holes were a bit topsy turvey but I eventually got into a rhythm and went for it.
"A 5 and 4 win sounds convincing but it wasn't easy especially after a long hard week"
Rory's ultimate aim is to join the professional ranks but he's not in any immediate hurry to desert the amateur scene.
"I'm very happy with the GUI set-up", he says. "If all goes well, I will go to the qualifying school later in the year but for now I just want to focus on the amateur scene"
Meanwhile, local Gary McDermott produced another heroic effort before crashing to an agonising defeat to Niall Gorey in the quarter-final.
In one of the most compelling matches over the week-end, McDermott and Gorey battled it out all the way to the 19th before the Muskerry player edged through.