It’s not often golf takes precedence over Gaelic games for me but this was an exception — and oh what an exception.
Watching my fellow clubman Shane Lowry win The Open Championship was one of the proudest moments in my life.
It’s the great sporting story we’ve had in the town, in the county of Offaly since 1982 when Seamus Darby did what he did to Kerry.
As I write this, the mood in Clara is only unbelievable. What Shane has done for his people can’t be truly articulated. Needless to say, it is incredible. One of our own doing what he did, knowing what he had to do to get there, knowing what his parents had to do to support him along the way.
Bridget and Brendan are fabulous people and it was so touching to hear Shane thank them in his acceptance speech.
To see such a wonderful thing happen to wonderful people, you couldn’t be anything but happy.
And let me tell you what a lift this has given Clara and Offaly. We all know how trying things have been for Offaly GAA this last while but as people will appreciate it hasn’t been easy in Clara with the illness of our former taoiseach Brian Cowen. This victory is sure to have given the Cowen family a huge lift also.
I heard the supporters in Croke Park yesterday were given updates on Shane’s final round in Portrush on the big screens and he would have really appreciated that. And in the Kerry-Mayo game those in attendance had another fine sporting occasion in arguably the best football game of the year.
Michael Murphy, one of the best performers, can consider himself fortunate to have stayed on the field as he should have been yellow carded for a foul on Jason Foley and then committed another personal foul and avoided punishment for that too.
Gavin White’s black card looked to be the right decision by Paddy Neilan although Niall O’Donnell’s was severe. As for the penalty, it’s just as well Murphy scored it because he could have easily been distracted by the stewards who were walking to their end of match positions as he struck it. That can’t be allowed to happen in the future.
The Mayo-Meath game was of poor quality and in the 58th minute Lee Keegan should have been booked for adeliberate off-the-ball foul on James McEntee.
Colm Boyle was yellow carded in the 67th minute for a professional foul but much like the point I made about hurling last week I don’t think a yellow is sufficient at a time of the game when the other team are chasing scores.
Ciarán Branagan was right to show Meath goalkeeper Andy Colgan a black card in additional time but I don’t think he should have awarded a penalty because the foul looked to have taken place outside the rectangle.
Onto next weekend’s All-Ireland hurling semi-finals and talk about two huge appointments in Alan Kelly and Seán Cleere. That Fergal Horgan hasn’t featured in a game for some time is a mystery to me and John Keenan is unlucky to miss out also.
I’ve regularly discussed about the falling standards of refereeing in hurling and I can’t stress the onus that is on these two men to perform in Croke Park this Saturday and Sunday.
Alan’s return to the spotlight after the ghost goal last year has been notable but I wonder if he would be getting this appointment if the performances of others weren’t slipping so badly.