Rory McIlroy tells the BBC’s Winker Watson in a documentary tonight that against the backdrop of the brouhaha over his identity remarks last year about feeling more British than Irish he might not now take part in the next Olympics.
McIlroy told the Daily Mail “but the fact is, I’ve always felt more British than Irish. Maybe it was the way I was brought up. I don’t know but I have always felt more of a connection with the UK than with Ireland.”
The first thing we should get straight is this. We did not elect Rory McIlroy. He did not ask us for a vote or put himself in a position where he is accountable to the public.
In this context as a sportsman he is a free agent. Is he in sport to achieve the unachievable as a sportsman or is he in a popularity contest?
If he sees himself in a popularity contest he is starting on the wrong foot. People who really distinguish themselves in sport have to be prepared to take big decisions, decisions for the good of their game not for the good of their supporters.
Alex Ferguson has seen off some of the greatest players ever to grace Old Trafford grounds. Had he been subject to the whim of popular opinion those people adjudged by him, rightly or wrongly problematic, would be a potential ongoing debilitating presence in Manchester United’s camp.
Needless to say the fall out from big sporting decisions by an individual or a manager can be ugly as we saw in the case of Donegal GAA manager Jim McGuinness and Kevin Cassidy.
There comes a time when one has to shoot the fox or else there will be no chickens left standing in the coop.
Rory McIlroy should let his clubs do the talking not his mouth.
He is currently the world’s best golfer. He attended a northern ireland state grammar school which teaches tolerance, and he seems to have caught a liberal dose. He is guilty of telling the truth as he sees it. Long may he continue to do so.
Conflicted on this one. I may be wrong but isn’t there only one golfing association on the island? Surely that same association would have invested in Rory’s talent? it’s a shame that Gb claim another local talent. There will be similarities with Andy Murra with regards to media, British in triumph and Irish in defeat
I think what ever passport the young lad holds is the way he should go, ROI or UK I
That’s the easiest way…
Has Rory spent his golfing career to date under the auspices of the Golfing Union of Ireland or the British Golfing Union? Whichever side he was brought up, why should he change now?
Golf like Rugby and Cricket and many other sports in this country is not determined by the border when it comes to representing your nation, Irish golfers like rugby players come from Ulster,Munster,Leinster and Connaught and the whole issue for Rory will be misconstrued no matter which choice he makes.
What a load of poisonous nonsense Eamonn. You should take a chip off at least one of those shoulders and just enjoy the golf.
Point of information: the “Ireland” Olympic team is a 26-county one, so there is no correlation with the 32-county Golfing Union of Ireland.
Eamonn ..that is so much rubbish. He didn’t ask to be put on the spot about his personal feelings. I was born in Newry and always felt a greater affinity to Dublin than Belfast for the same reasons as Rory. It was a part of the cultural influences I grew up. It wasn’t a conscious philosophical decision..it was part of my “heritage”. Rory grew up in a different culture and was influenced by that in the same way I was, except his leanings were British whereas mine were Irish. In my opinion he is being very honest and straight-forward in answering a media Hot Topic. One half of the community will love him for it, the other will resent him for it. Because of articles like yours, he will probably feel it the diplomatic solution to opt out of the Olympic Games…what a loss ..we live on a divided island, with a mixed heritage and aspirations. Lets accept that and move on .
Eamonn – I imagine the flags that matter most to Rory are those he has to find on the back 9 on Sunday in Major tournaments. What a pity a player of such world standing gets dragged into this nonsense. Let’s not blame him, but the many in this place who need to wise up/grow up. I see his real influence here in Holywood in the number of kids who want to play the game because of him. It’s a shame that one of his option now is not to play in the Olympics, and whose fault will that be? It certainly won’t be his.
I am extremely disappointed by Eamonn’s interpretation of why Rory has made a comment on this issue. Rory was asked a question and he answered it honestly and with a dignity full time Statesmen would love to process. It would be a disgrace if one of, if not the best, golfer in the World was unable to play at the Olympics in 2016 because of this messed up country. Anyone I have talked to from the British side say they don’t care if he plays for Ireland as long as he plays and the same from Irish nationalists. If Rory will not play for either country he should play for Europe in a team of his own.
I hope he abstains. The media’s need to define which foot he kicks with is sickening and plays to the same lowest denominator we saw in NI society, reeking havoc on the streets of belfast before Xmas.
Additionally, it would mean that neither the DUP or SF get the poster boy they so desperately crave for their own agendas.
Sod the lot of them Rory! Neither side deserves you.
Like Stephen I am disappointed in the “edge” in Eamonn’s article. The irony in all this is that it was started by Padraig Harrington suggesting that the NI golfers should compete under the UK umbrella so that more Irish golfers could get to the Olympics. If Rory is “guilty”, it is of being respectful to journalists and to all those supporting him, a trait that has won him global affection and that has caused the world to recognise the sheer decency that can eminate from a product of Northern ireland. If more of us were concerned at the perception of our actions in Northern ireland we would all be in a better place. Sorry Eamonn, I think you are well wide of the mark on this. It now behoves us all to indeed let him let his clubs do the talking.
I too am disappointed by your interpretation of this, Eamonn. If I didn’t know you better I would be thinking that it is you who disapprove of his so called ‘allegiance.’ You are also expecting too much maturity of Rory. Why not simply rejoice in his success ?
Rory McIlroy is blessed with a huge and unique talent. His golf is pure poetry and he is right to back off and camp in Florida. He is a golf professional not a political pundit, and if he were put under pressure by demands for him to perform like a circus monkey for the media his muse would not be long in disappearing and he would be left dreaming of the millions he could have made. Fact is, we’d probably all scooter off out of the way if we were in his shoes. Getting to the top of any sport is a very single-minded process and the best of luck to Rory. Who cares what foot he kicks with? I don’t.