Monday 19 August 2019

Eddie Cunningham: 'Proud, happy, delighted - this victory means the world to people of Clara'

Shannon Molloy (11) right and her sister, Aoibhinn (9), pictured at their home beside Esker Hills Golf Club, in Offaly, home club of Shane Lowry as they celebrate his success in the Open. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Shannon Molloy (11) right and her sister, Aoibhinn (9), pictured at their home beside Esker Hills Golf Club, in Offaly, home club of Shane Lowry as they celebrate his success in the Open. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

After watching Shane Lowry holding the Claret Jug, the trophy will now be forever known as the 'Clara Jug' by people from my hometown.

That, possibly, gives you a small idea of what it means to be a Clara and Offaly person today.

No matter where we live or what we are doing, no matter if (like me) we haven't swung a club in anger in our lives, we have been transported by this extraordinary achievement to the little town where Brosna waters flow.

Proud, happy and delighted - words at this stage are inadequate. The nearest I can come to describe the feeling is the magic from a childhood Christmas morning when you discovered that Santa had exceeded your expectations. It's magic.

Today we'll all be walking 10 foot tall; today and many, many days to come.

Like we did all those years ago when Shane's dad Brendan (and his uncles Sean and Mick) won the All-Ireland with Offaly in the famous 1982 final. Not many homes, anywhere, can boast a combination of Celtic Cross medal and Claret Jug, can they?

No more than the victory over Kerry in 1982, Shane gave us reason to celebrate an achievement that, for me anyway, was about far more than the game itself.

He bestrode the course like a Colossus, displaying a mental fortitude that set him apart as a modern day leader. This son of Clara was quiet and dignified, but heroic; emerging from the heat of battle transformed from 'great' to 'legend'.

It is, and will always be, the stuff of delight that we Clara folk belong to the same geographical tribe as this wonderful new champion.

In future, everywhere we go - be it Kilcoursey, the nearby Esker Hills golf club, Dublin, Sydney, New York, Boston, London - anywhere there is a 'Clara person', the conversation will always come around to golf (we'll see to that, I promise you) and we'll be able to declare with pride: "I'm from the same town as Shane Lowry."

And that Clara Jug will always remind us of where we were, what we were doing and how we felt the day Lowry beat the world.

Irish Independent

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