Have you seen the TV advert featuring Paul McGinley? Turns out the current Ryder Cup captain is sponsored by the same company that back the league competitions in men’s GAA. It’s a good fit. One of the golfer’s most admirable qualities is his humility. Giving the impression he likes to keep things simple, he has never forgot from whence he arrived.
Having played a bit with Ballyboden St Enda’s in his younger days, he remains a passionate follower of our national games. Indeed, you suspect, of all things Irish. His father, Michael, has had horses in training, most notably with Noel Meade, but also others. Nearly all of which bore the name of their Sigma technology company.
McGinley Snr is a native of Donegal, so it was little surprise when it was mooted that his son might enlist the help of the county’s football boss Jim McGuinness to shepherd his charges towards retention of their title so glorious garnered at Medinah.
Seeing the advert, the oft pondered comparison between McGinley and Padraig Harrington – also hailing from the heartland of Dublin hurling – resurfaced. The former is a decorated performer in his own right – most notably having woven his own patchwork quilt into the rich Irish tapestry enveloping golf’s greatest competition. Yet, he has never attained – or courted, you suspect – as much attention as his fellow parishioner.
Harrington probably doesn’t seek attention either, though often it’s impossible not to fixate it upon him. For me, somewhere between intriguing and infuriating probably sums him up best. The latter being the case purely owing to a feeling that were it not for the complexities that forever appear to malaise his career he may have won even more than he has.
Facts, of course, illustrate him as the greatest practitioner of his craft this island has produced. Rory McIlroy will surely eventually assume that mantle – perception may be that he already has – but by the one true yardstick, success in the Majors, seniority leads youth by three to two.
Surely it must be believable that poor players don’t accumulate the greatest gongs in the game. Whilst Harrington was hoovering up a triumvirate of the top prizes in quick fire time, he seemed – and was – capable of living with the other big hitters in the game. A sense of of what might have been always prevails, however.
It’s at the point where the mixture of the two adjectives deployed above reaches volcanic levels. Just why he chose to tinker with his game when it could hardly have been better is about as unfathomable as how his form has plummeted in the intervening years. Save flashes that indicate a really good player lurks not too far under the surface.
Perhaps the only plausible explanation is that resistance is futile to a meddling mindset. I see a lot of Padraig in myself sometimes – thinking too much, but at the same time always having to be at something. The perils of an idle mind can be personally vouched for, mind you, idleness usually quickly gives way to overdrive which tends to be equally – if not even more – corrosive.
Whatever his reasons for altering the processes by which he operates, he can draw some solace from knowing he is far from alone. Now, this might be a bit of a wide angled comparison given that it was connected to a ludicrously lucrative sponsorship deal, nonetheless, it’s worth remembering McIlroy changed his clubs last season. And struggled for a good while thereafter.
The fad is catching on in other sports too, worryingly. Phil Taylor has been to the forefront in darts for as many years as McIlroy has been alive, still, the sense that his decision to change darts following his ousting from the Alexandra Palace by the hitherto unheralded Michael Smith was a kneejerk reaction to same is inescapable.
If it was a reactionary decision, major malfunctioning occurred in the immediate aftermath thereof. With Taylor taking as resounding a reversal as he possibly ever has in his career – from Michael Van Gerwen in the opening round of the Premier League. However, rumours of his total demise appear misguided given that he shot two nine darters against Adrian Lewis just a few days later.
Most surprising – and worrying – of all though is seeing such feasts of fidgeting poking their way into GAA. Most would probably agree that Stephen Cluxton is the third member of a line of great tradition – a Dublin football goalkeeper who happens to be the greatest of his generation. Following on from Paddy Cullen and John O’Leary.
You’d think quite an excavation would have to take place to unearth flaws in the Parnells clubman’s repertoire. Still, sources tell me that the net minder has been engaging in extra tuition. That doesn’t sound too hopeful for the rest of us as he’s the most important cog in what’s a powerful blue machine as it is.
Personally, if I was in the position of those featured in this article, I’d leave well enough alone!