Paul McGinley is captain that got the Ryder Cup cream
PAUL McGINLEY (46), a true blue Dub who cut his sporting teeth playing Gaelic football as a kid with Colaiste Eanna and Ballyboden St Enda's, made history last night as he became Ireland's first Ryder Cup captain.
For generations, elite Irish golfers waited in vain to see one of their number skipper the Ryder Cup team but that long and painful slight ended in Abu Dhabi as the Europe's Tournament Players Committee voted unanimously for McGinley to lead the team into action against the US at Gleneagles, Scotland, next year.
World No 1 Rory McIlroy and a host stars from last September's winning Ryder Cup team in Chicago played a crucial part in McGinley's appointment by offering strong public support for a man they firmly believed was best for the job.
Though he has won E11m-plus in 20 years as a professional on the European Tour, McGinley's record as a player pales alongside those of McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and many of the other players he'll lead into action against Tom Watson's US side.
Yet McGinley is universally regarded among his peers as an exceptional team player and captain. winning worldwide acclaim by clinching victory for Europe at The Belfry in 2002 by bravely sinking a 10-foot putt for the crucial half point on Sunday afternoon in the first of his three winning Ryder Cup appearances as a player.
McGinley cut his teeth as a captain by leading Great Britain and Ireland to victory in the Seve Trophy in 2001 and 2001 ... performances which convinced him and McIlroy that he would make an exceptional Ryder Cup skipper.
Not everyone was convinced and McIlroy nailed his colours to the mast in recent days to convince any doubters that McGinley was the right man to lead Europe.
The Dubliner explained that the support of Europe's elite golfers helped him maintain a dignified silence during one of the most hotly contested battles for the Ryder Cup captaincy.
McGinley also thanked his wife Alison, mother of his three children, for provindg the sage advice and support during those trying times.
Thrilled at his appointment, McGinley paid tribute to the Golfing Union of Ieland. "I think we are very fortunate that we have an infrastructure in the Golfing Union of Ireland behind us, which we have all come through, every one of us has come through that structure. That is the foundation and that is where we have all been a product of.
"I'm the first one to hit this age where Ryder Cup captaincy is an opportunity of this era. Now, I know we've had great players in the past like Des Smyth and Eamonn Darcy and Philip Walton and right back to Christy O'Connor who played 10 Ryder Cups, and Christy, Junior, too.
"For one reason or another they were up against some serious contenders when their chance of Ryder Cup captaincy came along and that's why it didn't happen for them.
"I'm just delighted that it's obviously happened for me and all of the cards are falling in place for me."
"I am very honoured and humbled by my appointment and thrilled to be given an opportunity which I will take with both hands."
McGinley may not be a world figure in golf but Tiger Woods endorsed his appointment, saying: "I've got to get to know Paul pretty well over the years and more so over the last two Ryder Cups given his role as a vice-captain.
"He's going to make a great European Ryder Cup captain as I've seen for myself how popular he is and how well he's liked by everybody.
"So I can see Paul being a good rival to Tom (Watson), and our American Team will need to give him every respect."