Laois hurler Enda Rowland makes waves on the golf course

Goalkeeper wins Abbeyleix competition ahead of return to Leinster championship

Laois goalkeeper Enda Rowland: ‘I find golf a nice break. If you’re playing in a team environment it’s a different thing.’ Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Laois goalkeeper Enda Rowland: ‘I find golf a nice break. If you’re playing in a team environment it’s a different thing.’ Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

One man who put the coronavirus lockdown to good use is Laois hurling goalkeeper Enda Rowland. Nominated for an All Star last year after playing a key role in the county’s sensational win over Dublin in the All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final last July, he had a week previously helped the county to McDonagh Cup victory and promotion to this year’s Liam MacCarthy Cup.

That gets under way in five weeks in a rescheduled Leinster championship and a reunion with Dublin.

In the meantime, Rowland has been switching attention to a different sport.

Abbeyleix golf club captain Liam Ryan points out that the county hurler won “an open singles competition played on his home course on Friday and on Saturday morning he had hurling training with the Laois squad”.

That afternoon he won the mixed match-play and on Sunday, had to win a four-ball match-play on his own as his partner, Abbeyleix club-mate and predecessor as Laois goalkeeper Eoin Reilly, was returning to his work as a teacher in Abu Dhabi.

The opposing four-ball included PJ Peacock, another former Laois hurler.

Rowland says that he has only returned to golf in more recent times. “I played a bit as a juvenile but gave it up and I’ve just been back the last three or four years. I suppose these were different times with the pandemic. There was a lot of time to practise, long evenings at home and you were either hurling or playing golf.

On the face of it there are similarities. Both are “stick and ball” games and require a really good eye, especially for goalkeeping but Rowland is struck more by the contrasts than comparisons.

“It’s hard to know because they are different games but in goal you’re effectively on your own as well. I find golf a nice break. If you’re playing in a team environment it’s a different thing. In golf if you play well, you play well and if you don’t, you don’t. It’s not the end of the world. After a hurling match if you hadn’t played well you’d be likely not to talk to people for the rest of the day.”

The seasons neatly complement each other with just a few more weekends of golf.

“I’ll play as much as I can until the weather gets bad,” he says. “I’ve a fundraising classic at the weekend plus another singles or two. There are probably four or five singles left in the year and I’ll try and play them all and get down as low as I can.”

His handicap is the most striking gauge of this year’s improvement, having been brought down from 12 to six.

“I started off at 11, went back up to 12 and got it back to six in the last couple of months. I’d like to think I can get it down to three or four.”

Also on the horizon is the county’s first Leinster championship engagement in three years, which he’s greatly looking forward to.

“Of course. Back to normality!”

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