Why Rory’s McIlroy’s Olympics choice doesn't really matter


Rory McIlroy

A party political broadcast on behalf of the Rory Leave McIlroy Alone party will follow shortly, but first a Christmas tale from the studios of LMFM radio in Drogheda.

A little over a year ago, at a time when like so many of my fellow Irishmen and women I was between jobs, I did some work with the good people at LMFM.

For two weeks over the Christmas holidays I was their mid-morning talk show host and, believe it or not, some people actually listened.

That, I suspect, was mostly down to the guests as the likes of Niall O’Dowd of this parish dropped back home to talk about life in the fast lane of publishing in Manhattan and other more trivial matters, like Joe Sheridan’s goal for Meath against his beloved Louth in a certain Leinster football final.

Tommy Smyth of ESPN fame, another Louth man, and his lovely wife dropped in another morning to talk football and emigration and 9/11.

We had the great Brush Shiels singing “Fairytale of New York” to us down the phone line.

Paddy Goodwin, a local solicitor who prefers to play guitar, and Ireland’s biggest Birmingham City fan Darren Hughes talked Christmas music with Ken “Glam” Murray of Spiders nightclub fame.

Dave Fanning and the wonderful comic actor Joe Rooney spoke of their favorite Christmas movies.

And a great man by the name of Shane McEntee came into studio for our review of the sporting year that was 2011 when he shared the chair with Paddy Carr, well known to local GAA fans in these parts, and the very witty Meath footballer Cian Ward.

Now Shane is a man I had known a long time, so he was comfortable company that morning.

As a young reporter, years ago now, I had watched him playing football for Nobber although never as well as his brothers Gerry or Andy.

In my time, I had seen him coach and manage various underage and senior teams in Meath, mostly with some success.

And I had always witnessed his passion for the GAA in general and Meath in particular, so I asked him that day if he really did ask the stewards to lock the gates and “make them watch” when the Kerry fans started to leave Croke Park early as Sean Boylan’s charges hammered their football heroes in the 2001 All-Ireland semifinal.

Shane would only grin and laugh when that question was put to him that day, a grin and a laugh so wide and powerful that I can still see it clearly, even now when so many are still crying for the same Shane McEntee.
A year down the road from that day, I was back in the LMFM studio last week to again review the sporting year, 2012 this time.

This time I had a friend to remember, a man by the name of Shane McEntee who took his own life in such tragic circumstances and was buried on Christmas Eve when the rest of the country was preparing to celebrate.

It was hard to believe that the man who had grinned so happily a year earlier was being laid to rest that day as we stood in our thousands on the main street of his native Nobber.

His brother Gerry, the toughest of a tough bunch of Meath footballers in their day, told it as it was from the pulpit in the family’s parish church as he poured scorn on those who had chosen to abuse Shane, publicly and online, for his role as a member of the governing party that is Fine Gael.

Gerry told those who had belittled and besieged his brother, those whom the family believe helped push him towards the crudest and cruelest deed of all, to be ashamed of themselves.

At a time when Ireland is openly and rightly debating the excesses of the Internet age and the cyber bullying that cost two Donegal sisters their lives, also by suicide, it was sobering and heartbreaking to see the ramifications so close to home.

I felt for Shane McEntee and for his family, both on the Friday before Christmas in Nobber and on the Wednesday after the festivities in the LMFM Studios in Drogheda.

And that’s where Rory McIlroy enters the equation.

No debate about the sporting year of 2012 could fail to mark McIlroy as one of the stars alongside the Donegal footballers and Jim McGuinness and Katie Taylor and Jason Smyth.

Nobody in their right mind could question any decision to honor McIlroy for his feats on the golf course in the season that ended in the middle of December.