Sunday 25 August 2019

Edward McCann: 'It’s not often you see Irish tricolours flown without controversy in Portrush but they flew proudly today'

Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with caddy Brian Martin as they walk onto the 18th green on their way to winning The Open Championship on Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates with caddy Brian Martin as they walk onto the 18th green on their way to winning The Open Championship on Day Four of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush, Co Antrim. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Edward McCann

It’s not often you see Irish tricolours flown without controversy in Portrush - but as Shane Lowry teed off at the first hole the flags flew proudly.

Even at that stage there was a sense that something special was in the air.

The chants of 'Olé, Olé, Olé' carried across the air.

The wind blew one way and then another - in fact, it seemed to be blowing in about three different directions at the same time.

And then the downpour came as the rain battered down on the unsuspecting players and spectators alike. There was no hiding place - but Lowry and his army of supporters weathered the storm.

The fans are what make the atmosphere and they came from far and wide. Most of those who travelled from from further afield looked somewhat bewildered as the heavens opened after lunchtime.

It was a diluvial downpour but didn't put a dampener on the Lowry supporters.

It never looked like there was any danger of Lowry losing his lead so each hole seemed like a victory parade. On the 13th, Lowry's recovery from a bunker was greeted by a cacophony of shouts of ‘Shane-o’. There was no doubt he felt like he was playing at home.

The rain had now gone. The fans grabbed a spot wherever they could to catch a glimpse of Lowry. This was no easy task as the crowds seemed to grow bigger and bigger - with people stretched out as far as the eye could see.

By the 18th the most likely view you were going to get was a sea of mobile phones trying to capture this historic moment: an Irishman winning The Open on the island of Ireland.

The stewards throughout were incredibly friendly and helpful - and they came from all over... one woman who was holding the line at the 13th came from Ballyliffin in Co Donegal.

By the final hole, however, they could only advise that the best vantage point was on the big screen in the spectators’ area. If you hadn't got a place already, there was no chance.

Or so it seemed. A moment that symbolised the positive atmosphere was when a fan from Bray lifted a little boy on to his shoulders to get a view of Lowry on the 18th green. The little boy’s smile was reflected all around as the crowd basked in the glow of this special occasion.

It will be a day he and many others will remember for a lifetime.

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