Sunday 18 August 2019

Local hero: Crowds flock to Lowry's club - and tee-up a hectic seven-day celebration

Having a ball: Supporters at Esker Hills celebrate. Photo: Lorraine O'Sullivan/PA Wire
Having a ball: Supporters at Esker Hills celebrate. Photo: Lorraine O'Sullivan/PA Wire
A fan reacts to a shot. Photo: Lorraine O'Sullivan/PA Wire
Ray Molloy watching the final day of the British Open at Esker Hills Golf Club in Offaly. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Aoife Walsh

A the crowd broke into a rendition of 'The Green Fields Around Ferbane', the party at Shane Lowry's local golf club was just getting started.

Proud Clara locals hailed Shane Lowry's performance at The Open as "unbelievable" as they geared up for a hectic homecoming which they expect to be "seven days long".

While Lowry battled his way to victory through unfavourable conditions in Portrush, floods of locals flocked to his golf club in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

Esker Hills, a club hailed for giving Lowry his start in golf, was yesterday packed with locals all fighting to get a closer glimpse of the TV screen in the bar.

Right in the nub of the rowdy crowd, Lowry's granduncle and vice-captain Thomas Newman and former vice-captain Pat Clavin sat in a prime spot in front of the TV screen.

"He's done great things here for the young lads, he's unbelievable. He supports everything. You just have to say it to him that there's something on this week or next week, there's no problem - he'll sponsor it," Mr Newman said.

"He's done us proud. We're over the moon."

Mr Clavin added: "His father Brendan Lowry, Dominic Flemming, Austin Hanley and Ger Egan, they are the backbone of the junior set-up here. There is a very healthy junior set-up here.

"Shane basically bankrolls it, he looks after them, he's very good that way. His influence here is strong."

Ray Molloy, a director of Esker Hills, said he "can't believe" Lowry's success. "I can't believe it's happening to us. A small little club, 200 members. A young fella that came here, a 12-year-old, hopping around playing golf with his father, after a year or two he showed promise and he's gone from strength to strength.

"We thought when he won the Irish Open that it couldn't get better for us. Then he went to America and played a few games and we thought it couldn't get better than that.

"We thought he might win a major one day. This will make such a difference to Esker Hills, it will put us on the map. We just cannot believe it.

"The homecoming will be seven days long," he added.

Joe Duffy, a member of Esker Hills, said Lowry's performance had been "unbelievable", and that the professional golfer has made the club "proud".

"This place will be unbelievable when he comes back. I'd say they could nearly put a statue of him out there."

Club member Adrian O'Reilly recalled playing alongside Lowry in his younger days.

"His performance has been amazing.

"I played with him when he was a young lad.

"He's still the same chap. He's so humble."

Irish Independent

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