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Posts Tagged ‘Northern Ireland’

Will the Rio McIlroy be EIRE to the core or a Team GB Rory?

Whilst Rory McIlroy looks to have the FedEx Cup, Race to Dubai and money lists topped for this year as our learned colleague 5beachgolf surmises, not to mention finishing atop of the OWGR rankings come the end of the season another all-but certainty, there is one aspect of the Northern Irish fella’s game not so cut and dried.

Who will Rory play for at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil?

For those living beyond the boundaries of our septic isle, the decision may look as simple as signing on the dotted line. You’re born in Northern Ireland, so you play for the UK, or Team GBR as it indubitably will be. But the tightrope upon which you walk is a lot thinner than most when you’re talking affinity to one flag or another, despite anything that a peace process may or may not have announced to the world in the Good Friday agreement.

You only have to look back at last season’s Scottish Premier league campaign to get a sense of the depth of feeling that remains. Neil Lennon, having been born and having played for Northern Ireland, took over the reigns as manager of Celtic FC after a successful career as a player there. The fact that Celtic was borne of Irish Catholics looking for a community and presence in Glasgow at the end of the nineteenth century and it is only ever the green, white and orange tricolour you will see around Celtic Park even to this day, never the Saltire, only hammers home the allegiance the club and fans have with their Republican roots.

The protestant element went out of their way to emphasise just how much they thought of Lennon as a traitor, as he was attacked on the field at Tynecastle, had the walls of his home daubed with sectarian slogans, received death threats and even received a letter bomb through the post, as did two prominent Scottish figures associated with the club.

WP Rory McIlroy

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not that I’m suggesting this depth of feeling runs over into golf, but denying that it exists in sport at all is somewhat foolhardy.  What will his Irish fan base think if, having played for Ireland as a youth “under the Golfing Union of Ireland umbrella” as he recently referred to his career-to-date affinity, he then turns around and plays for Team GBR four years from now and not EIRE?

In a recent tweet, Rory has categorically stated that he has not made up his mind. Who can blame him? But he has fuelled the rumour mill by recently stating in the Daily Mail that he feels more British than Irish. Perhaps he is laying down the foundations for an announcement, possibly before this season’s out.

With the harmony of Europe coming together to defend the Ryder Cup in Medinah next month, there hardly seems a better time to publicly declare where his future loyalties lie, especially if Team Europe pull off the win that the bookies have U-turned on over the last six weeks and now fully expect against the backdrop of all recent major golf competitions have found champions from the east shore of The Atlantic.

Does Rory think with his head or his heart?

Along with the Irish golfing nation, the likes of Donald, Westwood, Rose and Poulter, at least one of whom would have to miss out in the event of Rory coming down on the side of Team GBR, must also be hoping he carries on sporting the green, white and orange. But to my mind, I think Brazil in 2016 will most definitely see a Team featuring a Great British Rory. Let’s hope the fans appreciate his decision, whichever way he goes, and just accept him for who he is now, the greatest golfer on the planet, irrespective of where he comes from.

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