British? Irish? Does it really matter?
Why are you celebrating a British golfer?’
The above was one of the texts received by Newstalk this morning as they discussed the stunning display produced by Rory McIlroy in the US Open at Congressional at the weekend.
As his final round unfolded towards victory, families across the island and the world gathered to savour a remarkable achievement for a 22-year-old golfer from Holywood, Co Down.
A young man, who with every cheeky smirk and grateful wave of acknowledgement to the crowd, epitomised what it is to be a champion – brilliant, but humble. Ruthless, but sportsmanlike.
His embrace with his father Gerry was a truly special moment, the culmination of a shared journey, during which there must have been a multitude of emotions – stony silences, tearful reconciliations, slammed doors and high fives.
Most of us took our little piece, because ultimately that’s why we watch, so we can share the tiniest morsel of excellence that we will never experience.
And then, on Monday morning, as we strut to the bus stop like Wee-Mac coming down the 18th, some gobshite dumps all over it by texting a snide question that doesn’t matter.
There are three ways of looking at it, as far as I can see.
1. Rory McIlroy is British
If it suits you, he holds a British passport and has said he would like to represent Britain in the 2016 Olympics. And who has any right to argue with that?
2. Rory McIlroy is Irish
If you’d prefer, he can be seen as a product of Irish golf, having travelled the world as an amateur under the umbrella of the Golfing Union of Ireland and represented the island of Ireland (all 32 counties) at the highest level.
3. Rory McIlroy is Rory McIlroy
He belongs to himself, his parents, his true friends and Holywood Golf Club. He’s a sportsman. He entertains. He captivates. He amazes. He makes people happy.
None of the three are mutually exclusive. Three can go with one, two can go with three, and – deep breath – two can go with one as well. Ye Gods!