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'If I could see an Offaly man walk up the Croke Park steps, I'd die a happy man'

British Open champion Shane Lowry explains the reasons why he has decided to invest in Offaly GAA.

Lowry aims to help Offaly GAA.
Lowry aims to help Offaly GAA.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

ON THE NIGHT Limerick defeated Waterford to win their second All-Ireland hurling championship in three years, Shane Lowry sent a text to JP McManus.

The two men are friends through golf. Yet they also share a love for GAA. Lowry, after all, has it in his blood, his father, Brendan, scoring three points when the Faithful county defeated Kerry in the 1982 All-Ireland SFC final.

Way back then, Offaly and All-Ireland finals were regular dates in the diary; the footballers appearing in two finals, the hurlers in three.

Somewhere along the line, the tap was turned off, though. It is 24 years since Offaly last won a Leinster football title; 23 years since they last lifted the Liam MacCarthy.

That’s where Lowry comes in. He was quick to point out today that he doesn’t have the same income streams as McManus. But he wants to help. McManus suggested he prioritises his investment in underage structures.

“It would probably be easy for me to bury my head in the sand and watch it go by while I was in Florida, living my life and going about my business.

“But any time I get the chance to go to O’Connor Park and watch Offaly play, I am the first to give out if they lose.”

So, that’s where his motivation comes from. He wants change, believes Michael Duignan, the county’s chairperson, has the structural skills to implement it. All Lowry wants to do is make a contribution, hence his arrival as a sponsor.

“Things haven’t been great for a few years,” Lowry said today at the press briefing. “I’m an Offaly person who has travelled and I’m sure many other Offaly people out there might want to get involved.

“That’s personally where I see me getting involved – it is not all about money. I see the job Michael Duignan and his team has done since coming in and when I see the love Michael has for Offaly GAA and all the passion everyone on the team has, it’s brilliant.

“Right now, it’s not about winning trophies. We have two minor teams in Leinster finals – for me that’s progress.

“If we put the right plan in place, it can work but right now it can’t be defined by results.

“When I look at myself, if I fully believe what I’m doing is the right thing I’m happy. And as long as I believe that, then we are going in the right direction.

“Michael and his team will put a plan in place for this and as long as they are happy that’s where progress will come from. In 10 or 20 years if I could see an Offaly man walk up the steps of Croke Park I would probably die a happy man.”

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Lowry added: “Ten weeks ago, my form was not great – then a few weeks ago I came off the 18th green at the Masters devastated that I had only finished 20th, I felt if I had have cleaned up a few mistakes here and there that I could have done better.

“That is at the very highest level of world golf.

“Sport is funny. If you get a group of lads pulling in the right direction then you are never as far away as you think. You never know you could have the days we all dream about. 

“There is no point Offaly trying to be Dublin. We can be very successful if we can get a group of players together and pull in the same direction – and when teams are successful, young lads have heroes and all they want to do is play for their county.

“When I grew up my heroes were Johnny Dooley and Brian Whelahan. It would be nice to create that around the county again.”

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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