Harrington rolls back the clock; Jackie Tyrrell on the art of rotation

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Pádraig Harrington hits his approach into the 6th green during the opening round of the Irish Open at Lahinch. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Pádraig Harrington hits his approach into the 6th green during the opening round of the Irish Open at Lahinch. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Coming in to Irish Open week most of the talk from a home perspective was about Shane Lowry and, even though he isn’t there, Rory McIlroy. And while Lowry did deliver with an opening 66 at Lahinch to sit at four under par, it was the old grand master, the man with three Major titles to his name, who set the pace. On Thursday Pádraig Harrington gave us a glimpse of the past and the sort of play which has him correctly considered as one of Ireland’s greatest ever sportspeople. On a perfect day in Lahinch, Harrington carded eight birdies and just a single bogey on the way to an opening round of 63 to lead by two at seven under par going into the second day. Now aged 48 and with a Ryder Cup captaincy occupying the majority of his time, Harrington is still able to weave that old magic and he did so yesterday in what was a masterclass of links golf. This morning he gets underway at 8.30am and from 10am you can follow his fortunes – as well as Lowry and everyone else in the afternoon – on our liveblog. Speaking of Lowry it was he who got the crowds going early on with his round of 66 before which he admitted feeling somewhat anxious and nervous, knowing the weight of expectation that is on him on home soil. And it was also a good day for another Irishman who slipped under the radar a little in the afternoon as Harrington set the course alight. Since turning pro Cormac Sharvin hasn’t had the best of times but this week could well be a turning point for the 26-year-old who joined Lowry in the top-10 with a 66 of his own.

Moving on to hurling and Jackie Tyrrell writes in his column this morning that Limerick have proved the masters of timing and rotation in what is a changed hurling landscape. With more games than ever to play before reaching the All-Ireland final, John Kiely has had to be very shrewd in how he used his players, something that wasn’t quite as much of an issue in previous times. “It’s a different hurling landscape these days. It now takes seven or eight games to win an All-Ireland. We used to win them after half that number. I can understand John Kiely’s point of view. You can’t flog the horses, especially thoroughbreds,” he writes. This weekend sees the meetings of Dublin and Laois and Westmeath and Cork to complete the quarter-final lineups in the hurling championship. A key man for the Dubs so far this year has been 36-year-old Conal Keaney and yesterday fellow teammate David Treacy said that the veteran would expect nothing less of himself. “If he wasn’t prepared to be at that level he wouldn’t have come back. He always has that in him. What he also has is he’d hate for me to talk about him like that. He just does what he does,” he said.

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