Sport Golf

Sunday 17 December 2017

The Lowrys are GAA royalty in Offaly but now they have a golfing legend too

Amy (2), Sean (4) and twin sister Edel Gillespie from Ballinamere, Co Offaly, celebrating Shane Lowry’s win at Esker Hills Golf Club near Clara. Photos: Steve Humphreys
Amy (2), Sean (4) and twin sister Edel Gillespie from Ballinamere, Co Offaly, celebrating Shane Lowry’s win at Esker Hills Golf Club near Clara. Photos: Steve Humphreys
Publican Paul Rabbette and his daughter Lorraine at Shane Lowry’s local pub Bunny’s in Clara, Co Offaly
Liam Wyer (78), from nearby Ballykilmurray, used to practise with Shane Lowry
Former taoiseach Brian Cowen with Esker Hills co-owner Ray Molloy and club captain John Boland.
Shane with WGC trophy

Shane O'Riordan

In Offaly, the Lowrys are legends.

Young children have been told of their great feats. How they focused on the ball, never let the heads drop and fought until the bitter end.

They were in the backs and forwards on that famous day in 1982 when the Faithful County celebrated like never before.

But that was 33 years ago and the flashbacks are starting to slowly fade of the day Mick, Sean and Brendan helped destroy Kerry's dream of five-in-a-row.

Yesterday there was a new celebration that will live long in the memory of all who witnessed, not just in Offaly or Ireland, but in Ohio and across the golfing world.

Much like after the All-Ireland football final in 1982, grown men hugged each other and wept as a Lowry collected silverware.

But this was the turn of Brendan's son Shane (28). The "unfamiliar name" whom the 'New York Times' described afterwards as "a bearded and bulky man" with "soft hands".

The WGC Bridgestone Invitational didn't just come with a trophy, there is also the not insignificant cheque for €1.45m and the confidence that comes with outshooting double Masters champion Bubba Watson just days before the US PGA.

Back at Esker Hills golf club near Lowry's native Clara, the party will probably last until the PGA ends next Sunday, regardless of how the local boy does.

It only has 200 members and club captain John Boland described it all as "a fairytale".

The win won't go to Shane's head, though, according to his uncle Sean.

"I remember people saying, back when he won the Irish Open, that he was just a flash in the pan, but what people didn't realise is that he spent nearly every day on that golf course perfecting his game.

"He's so clever in his approach, he has the attitude and the composure to go even further in the game and his long and short game are both outstanding," Sean said.

"We're a big GAA family but we love the golf too, we've been to British Opens and basically all over the world to watch the major competitions."

Among those joining in the celebrations was former taoiseach Brian Cowen who is a regular at Esker Hills - although he has never played with Lowry.

"This is huge for Offaly and huge for Ireland," he declared. "I hope more people come to Clara now to play the same course Shane does all the time. I've never played with Shane but I'd like to, although he'd be wasting his time as I'm nowhere near his level," he joked.

"People are more likely to come down and play in Clara now that he's won. He's closely associated with the club, there's great work going on here with young golfers. You see the young guys coming up in golf and they're absolutely fearless."

Most of the town was running on adrenaline yesterday after a very late night watching the final round of the Ohio tournament on Sunday. The tense scenes on the last hole gave way to a euphoria that kept many up all night.

"It couldn't happen to a nicer guy - the win and money won't change him, he's so grounded," said Lorraine Rabbette (27), who manages Shane's local pub, Bunny's, with her father.

Bunny's was filled to capacity as word of his impending victory spread.

"We have the golf on live here every time it's on and when Shane plays there's always a huge crowd," said Lorraine's father. "Everyone was so happy after the win we thought we'd make it a night to remember."

You can expect that in 33 years children will still be talking about the day Lowry became much more than a local hero.

Irish Independent

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