O’Driscoll: Lowry win inspiration for Japan

Brian O’Driscoll believes Joe Schmidt’s Ireland team can take inspiration from Shane Lowry’s Open triumph as they seek to emulate the Offaly golfer by climbing higher than ever before on the world stage.

O’Driscoll: Lowry win inspiration for Japan

Brian O’Driscoll believes Joe Schmidt’s Ireland team can take inspiration from Shane Lowry’s Open triumph as they seek to emulate the Offaly golfer by climbing higher than ever before on the world stage.

Lowry’s talent was never in doubt after he won the Irish Open as an amateur in Baltray 10 years ago but his successes since had been intermittent with the ebbs and flows of his career since spawning a great deal of discussion and no little hand-wringing among the game’s aficionados.

The rugby lads could surely empathise with that.

Ireland’s rugby team has scaled innumerable heights in the last 10 to 15 years but, while the players and management staffs have changed, the consistent failure to progress beyond a World Cup quarter-final remains an unavoidable stain on the collective as the latest generation prepares for Japan.

O’Driscoll, speaking yesterday as the Ireland cricketers were skittling through the English batting order at Lord’s, feels it isn’t just Lowry’s win that can serve as a pathway for others but the manner in which the 32-year old answered the doubts that swirled around his own head last Sunday.

“Yeah, you’d look at it and go ‘that’s brilliant’. We completely bat above our average, to use cricketing parlance, since we seem to be doing that at the moment! It’s a real lesson for everyone, to hear someone like Shane say ‘I can’t believe I’ve managed to do this’. He’s climbed his Everest, so to speak, and yet he wasn’t sure that he could.

“What message does that send to everyone that maybe doesn’t fully believe in themselves or in how far they can achieve, how far they can go? That’s a serious shot in the arm to everybody, every team irrespective of your sport. If someone like Shane Lowry, who wasn’t sure of himself, could achieve then surely we all can. I’m sure that the (rugby) lads took great satisfaction from watching him, as the whole country has.”

O’Driscoll was in Portrush from Thursday through Saturday as an HSBC ambassador so he witnessed up close the very special atmosphere that came with an Open Championship being held on the island of Ireland and believes the event will leave a legacy.

The former Ireland captain spoke of the stunning Causeway Coast scenery captured by the TV cameras for a worldwide audience and the efforts made by tourism folk across Northern Ireland on site but the effect, if any, the event will have made on bringing the two strands of this island closer together is more difficult to gauge.

O’Driscoll explored that relationship and questions of identity in his tv documentary Shoulder to Shoulder and it was put to him here whether many, or any, of those people he interviewed at an Orange Order march for the film would have supported Lowry last Sunday.

“I’m sure like all things you’d have a mixture. I’m sure some people would (sic) and I’m sure some people are able to put their religious belief aside for sport. That was the thing about the documentary, the beauty of it is that irrespective of your political make-up or opinion, on a Saturday afternoon you are together as one.

“You’d be hopeful if that was the case last weekend,” he suggested.

“On the flip-side, would the republicans down south, when Rory (McIlroy) or Darren (Clarke) were in contention, be cheering for them? I’d like to think they would be.”

With all eyes on the golf, the opening rounds of the Rugby Championship last Saturday, when South Africa and New Zealand recorded wins against Australia and Argentina respectively, skipped O’Driscoll’s radar though the BT Sport pundit plans on catching up with the games in Johannesburg and Buenos Aires imminently.

Both were compelling contests in their own way and it was impossible, yet again, not to wonder if such high-intensity competitive fixtures in a truncated, three-round competition does not amount to a much more useful build-up for the World Cup to come than than the long pre-season and warm-up circuit here up north.

O’Driscoll isn’t so sure either way. “It doesn’t change your mentality. The warm-up games, they’ll still be full bore. You know that you are not going to be able to ease your way into Test-match rugby, irrespective of whether it is a ‘friendly’ or otherwise. It is much of a muchness, to be honest.

“The big thing is fresh legs versus tired legs, being ready against being match hardened. That is the question that will always be asked until we get a global season. It’s hurt Ireland in the past, not being prepped for a World Cup and getting their preparation wrong.

“That’s not going to be the case (this time). If anything, they can pull back and modify training in advance of games, having had the amount of rugby they’ve played in the southern hemisphere. You can spin it whatever way you want to.”

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