Monday 19 August 2019

Editorial: 'Shane Lowry's win reflects the positive side of our isle'

Open Champion Shane Lowry celebrates with the Claret Jug. Photo: Getty
Open Champion Shane Lowry celebrates with the Claret Jug. Photo: Getty


Sport thrives on those miracles when men and women defy the odds and do the seemingly impossible. But sometimes sport also gives us all a shared miracle in the form of an opportunity to stop and reflect on the positive side of humanity and all that we have in common as people.

Yesterday, at the storied and venerable golf links of Royal Portrush, all the people on the island of Ireland, from Malin to Mizen and from Rathlin to the Saltees, got such a shared miracle moment.

Shane Lowry wrote a new page in Irish golf and sporting history generally with a truly fine win in the British Open Golf Championship.

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Hosting the tournament at the north Antrim course was a major victory in itself. It brought some 215,000 visitors to this much neglected beauty spot and its stunning scenery was relayed across the globe to some 600 million television viewers.

It was a potent message that this is a part of Ireland which has been transformed.

Little more than 30 years ago the story was very different as Royal Portrush reaped its share of the bitter dividend from sectarian strife.

Now that era is retreating in memory - and the last eight days of dramatic golf have played a part. Bringing the British Open to Portrush for the first time since 1951 required total buy-in from all sides of the still sadly entrenched political divide in the North.

Notwithstanding three years of deadlock, both the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin gave the project their enthusiastic support. Perhaps now they could revisit the lessons of Portrush?

The tournament opened with a disappointing day for local hero Rory McIlroy, from nearby Holywood in Co Down.

The very presence of world golf icon Tiger Woods gave the undertaking a huge additional cachet, even though he did not continue his dramatic comeback. But gradually, the week began to belong to Shane Lowry.

He showed himself no stranger to the rain, and reminded us of how he burst on to the national sporting stage in May 2009 with a fine win as an amateur in the Irish Open at Baltray in nearby Co Louth.

The local hero has again brought honour to his native Clara and we shall see record celebrations at his home club of Esker Hills.

There was a certain symmetry in this win coming on such a busy GAA day.

Shane Lowry's father Brendan and uncles Seán and Mick won football All Irelands for Offaly in 1982. They stopped a Kerry five-in-a-row, making their own history back then.

Ireland has hosted major international sporting events over the years, including cycling's Tour de France, the inspiring Special Olympics and golf's Ryder Cup.

This event was right up there with any of those immense occasions and it was the biggest to be hosted in Northern Ireland.

Irish people everywhere salute the organisers -and the happy Irish outcome.

Irish Independent

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