Sportsfile’sselects the favourite image from his career in sports photography
“I’ve been taking pictures for over 20 years but this shot of Shane Lowry less than 12 months ago is probably my favourite.
“It is not your traditional golf celebration shot of a trophy being held aloft or a fist pump following the decisive putt.
“And perhaps that is why I chose it.
“In the build up to the Open in Portrush all the talk and all the pressure was on one man — Rory McIlroy.
“But a poor opening tee shot was the beginning of the end for his Open dream and suddenly we were all looking around and asking: ‘Wwho is the story going to be now?’ Golf is one of the toughest sports to cover for a photographer. In most sports we just sit in a corner and let the players do all the running around. But with golf, we probably walk more that the competitors. From start to finish, it is a huge test of endurance. We’d walk about 15km a day, carrying about 15kg of gear, which includes three cameras, all the other knick-knacks, rain gear and so on. As a result you have to think smart about who and where you are shooting or else you are walking around aimlessly. So as Shane Lowry started to come to the fore, he became the story, and our centre of attention.
“On the morning for the final round my colleague Ramsey (Cardy) and myself mapped out the day and who would go where. You can’t afford to drop off despite the possibility of nothing to show for your efforts for six, seven, eight holes. But then things could all change with one bad shot and the entire complexion of the event can change.
“You are watching all the time for the emotion. Every minute that goes by the previous picture become more or less relevant depending on how the day ends. I followed Shane up until the 10th hole and then I went to the 18th to make sure that I had a good spot. You then just watch the scoreboard and hope that the moment will be in your favour, but there is no way that you can control that. The story of the day could be a collapse at the 15th.
“Thankfully, all the pieces fell into place here. Shane had just played his second shot and was then walking around a bunker towards the green. As it was the last game the crowd were allowed onto the course. When he came through the rope line they were slapping him on the back and cheering him home.
“Essentially the deed was done. Even though he still had to finish his round, it was the first time he could relax and enjoy the moment. Very few golfers can have that kind of celebration before the winning putt but that afternoon it was like he was in the centre of a stadium with this wall of people behind him — all supporting and willing him on.
“Here you had an Offaly man about to win the Open in Portrush in front of thousands of supporters with tricolours fluttering ….
“I would think that this will be one of the iconic moments of Irish sport for years to come.”
Interview: Colm O’Connor