A celebrity by name, just an Offaly man by nature 2 weeks ago

A celebrity by name, just an Offaly man by nature

Shane Lowry will die a happy man, if he lives to see Offaly winning an All-Ireland.

It was in December last year, the day Limerick won a second All-Ireland senior hurling title in a row, when Shane Lowry's mind drifted back home to Offaly.

His home county's fall-from-GAA-grace has set him back as much as anyone else and watching on that Sunday evening, he decided to text Michael Duignan to try and do something about it.

A text which has ultimately brought us to today, when it was announced that Lowry - son of the 1982 All-Ireland football winning corner forward Brendan - would sponsor Offaly GAA's commercial, fundraising and player development initiatives.

Speaking on a Zoom call this Thursday, it's clear that Lowry is delighted to be providing a helping hand.

"I talked to my dad that night of the All-Ireland, albeit it was a Sunday evening so he might have had a pint or two of Heineken on board. He’s very passionate about Offaly GAA, always has been. We talked about us both getting involved, our family getting involved, and try and push it that way. I texted Michael saying that, and that got the ball rolling"

Lowry's main focus, it's fairly clear, is to inspire the next generation and to give Offaly's current underage players an opportunity to get the best out of themselves.

Shane Lowry

"I’m going to try and help as much as I can. I think there’s a long road ahead for Offaly GAA but hopefully this is the start of great things. We’re probably not going to see any reward over the next few years but in 10 or 20 years if I could somehow see an Offaly man walk up the steps in Croke Park I’d probably die a happy man. That’s what this is all about for me."

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"It probably would have been easy for me to bury my head in the sand, watch it go by. Me over here in Florida, in America, living my life. Going about my business. But any time I get the chance I go to O’Connor Park, go and watch Offaly play. I’m the first one to give out if they’re losing and be shouting at them sitting in the stand. Things haven’t been great for a few years. I’ve been trying to focus on my own career, haven’t really been in the position where I feel like I could give that time or effort. While I feel that now, after the Open, you kind of hold a different status in world golf and sport – I think.

"I don't just want to put my name to something and then not get involved," the 2019 Open champion stresses.

"This is something I'm very passionate about, that my family is very passionate about, my dad's over the moon that this is happening, it's great for us as a family to be able to do something like this.

"The underage is where I think is the big target for us and if we can start producing good players who want to wear the green, white and gold jersey again, that's what it's about for me."

Lowry grew up idolising the likes of Brian Whelahan and Johnny Dooley and he hopes that the youngsters of today can go onto make their own history.

"I played the whole way up to minor. I remember my last match I ever played was against St Vincents in a relegation match for Clara, I was away playing golf all summer and was about 17 at the time, Ballyconlan was where it was.

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"I was handy enough, I played corner forward and used to kick the frees, Tullamore used to beat us in the county final every year and I never won a county medal, which still to this day haunts me.

"That was my GAA career, I never played for Offaly, I was never good enough for that but played for Clara up along. 

"When I was a young lad coming up in Clara, the only thing you wanted to do was playing hurling or football for Offaly.

"Right now there's a lot of young lads who want to play golf because of me but it would be nice to create a thing where young lads want to go out and do everything they can to wear the green, white and gold of Offaly, that's what it's all about for me because that's what I wanted to do as a kid.

"Obviously, look, my path changed and I went down a different road, but you look at lads in other counties and that's what they're successful, because it snowballs. 

"I feel like when teams are successful, young lads have heroes and all they want to do is play for their county.

"When I was growing up, my heroes would have been Johnny Dooley, Brian Whelahan, Offaly were obviously very successful when I was growing up so it would be nice to create that around the county again."

Shane Lowry, a sporting superstar by name. Just an Offaly man by nature.