McGinley's heart-to-Harte after good day at the office
RYDER Cup captain Paul McGinley was double-jobbing at the Irish Open. His first priority was to open the championship with a decent score in front of the home galleries and then he went into captaincy mode to discuss man management and team motivation with Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.
All in all, a good day for the Dubliner. McGinley filed a two-under-par 70 in the first round and got great value from his chat with Harte.
The two Irish sporting heroes discussed general principles of motivation which he will put to good use in the Europe v USA Ryder Cup match next year.
It was the first time McGinley, who has strong GAA roots, had a face to face discussion with three-time All-Ireland winning manager Harte, although the pair have previously been in contact by text
McGinley has spoken in the past of his wish to incorporate the thinking of some of the most progressive GAA managers such as Harte and Donegal's Jim McGuinness into his team-room.
He clarified that recently by saying it won't mean a direct role for the GAA men, but he was delighted to have a chat with Harte.
Tyrone are preparing for their All-Ireland qualifier with Offaly at Tullamore tomorrow night and Harte is related to the Mallaghan family which owns Carton House.
"Conor Mallaghan told me Mickey was around and asked me if I'd like to meet him. I said I'd love to meet him. We sat down and we chatted. It was just an informal chat.
"We've been communicating with texts for the last few years and that was the first time we've actually sat down and had a chat.
"We talked in general about teams and his ideas on man management and things like that. To be honest I did most of the listening. I wanted to listen more than talk.
"Mickey doesn't play golf, but he follows it. One of his sons plays quite a lot and we talked about that.
"It was good fun and it was all very private and confidential.
"We didn't talk about anything specific about Tyrone or tactics or anything like that. It was all in general about teams and managing players.
"I've always said there will be an element of the GAA in the team-room at Gleneagles and that was what I was kind of referring to, a chat with people like that, people with a GAA background," said McGinley.
The Ryder Cup skipper has been troubled by a recurring back problem which forced him to opt out of the event at Munich last week.
He attempted Open Championship qualifying at Sunningdale on Monday, but did not gain a spot.
Physio treatment got him ready for yesterday and McGinley is scheduled to play three tournaments in a row – the Irish, French and Scottish Opens, so it's fingers crossed for his fitness.
His score yesterday was a boost, as the captain wants to stay competitive in the build-up to the Ryder Cup.
"I think it's important. Part of the captain's duty is to remain competitive. I'm out there; I'm seeing the guys; I'm at the tournaments for a reason, but I don't want to be a ceremonial captain for the next two years, I still have ambitions to play well."
There was a slight hesitation when McGinley was asked about Shane Lowry's performance in shooting five-under-par to strike an early blow for the home challenge.
It was as if the dual role of tournament competitor and team captain were momentarily conflicted.
There was nothing grudging about McGinley's congratulations for a fellow Irishman's good show, but he put his player/captain duties into context:
"I'm delighted for him and like all the players, I want to wish them all the best of luck – but I'll be trying to play better than them."