Sports Digest: Padraig Harrington says Rory McIlroy should be British for 2016 Olympics
Padraig Harrington has caused something of a stir and suggested that Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell should play for Britain at the 2016 Olympics.
Golf is to be introduced to the Olympics for the first time in Brazil, with much debate over McIlroy and McDowell’s allegiances.
Harrington believes they should declare for Britain and allow two other Irishmen to fly the Tricolor in South America.
He has even claimed he is giving them “the perfect way out” of an emotive debate on the subject with the comments, aired in an interview with the Setanta sports channel.
Harrington said, “The man in the street is not looking at the logic behind the decision, he is looking at the emotions behind the decision. Emotions should be taken out of it.
“Why keep asking Rory to make an emotional decision? Rory can get away from the emotional decision by saying, ‘Look, I am going to do what is logical and best for golf on this island.’
“What’s logical and best for golf on this island, as things stand today, is for the two boys to declare for Great Britain and for four from the island of Ireland to play in the Olympics.
“It’s simple and straightforward. We can have a chance of four people winning at the Olympics and it doesn’t matter where they are from.
“When a guy from Northern Ireland wins a major or a tournament, those in the U.K. show their support for him and those in Ireland show their support for him.
“Every side wins. It doesn’t have to be one way or the other.”
Olympic rules state that the top 15 in the world qualify automatically for the Olympics.
Speaking to irishgolfdesk.com, Harrington added, “The rules actually benefit Ireland. Because of the top 15 element to it, if Graeme and Rory declared for Ireland in four years and they were still in the top 15, Darren Clarke and I wouldn’t get into the Olympics even if we were 16th and 17th in the world.
“Why bring emotions into it? It’s logical. I am sure than Darren Clarke or myself would be devastated if we didn’t get to play in the Olympics because of political interference. We would be devastated.
“If the boys stay in the top 15, you’ve got Michael Hoey, Gareth Maybin and Darren Clarke all from the North. If they two boys declare for Great Britain, that opens up the chance for the others to declare for Ireland.
“What if Rory and Graeme played for Ireland and Shane Lowry missed out? Shane wouldn’t be just disappointed, he’d be absolutely devastated.
“All I was trying to say that there is not a decision to be made. It’s a logical thing. Rory doesn’t have to make an emotive decision and doesn’t have to answer the question.
“I think in golf we have always seen it as one island. I can guarantee you that the Golfing Union of Ireland can take credit if Rory wins an Olympic gold medal representing Great Britain. I don’t have any issue with that.
“The most patriotic thing you can do at this very moment is declare for Britain because it gives four guys from Ireland a chance. If they declare for Ireland, there will only be two.”
CELTIC boss Neil Lennon is refusing to get carried away with talk of a Scottish Treble despite his team’s latest Cup success and the ongoing crisis at Rangers.
Just 24 hours after he was publicly critical of his Glasgow rivals and the money problems at Rangers, Lennon saw Georgios Samaras and Scott Brown score either side of halftime in a 2-0 Scottish Cup win at Inverness.
Already in the League Cup final, Celtic are now through to the last eight of the Scottish Cup and leaders of the Premier Division.
With Rangers bowing out in a shock 2-0 defeat at home to Dundee United on Sunday Celtic are now Cup favorites, but Lennon insists his feet are firmly on the ground.
“Things can change very quickly but we are really pleased with where we are at the minute,” he said.
“It was the toughest tie we probably could have had, apart from being at Ibrox, so I’m thrilled to get through it.
“We wanted to be in all the competitions at the end of yesterday, that was the remit before the game, and we are so it’s good.
“But there is a long way to go yet.”
Lennon praised Samaras after his goal.
“I have been crying out for him to get one of those goals and he really lashed it into the top corner. He is capable of doing that so I am very pleased with him today,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lennon has been criticized by Rangers boss Ally McCoist after claiming that Celtic doesn’t need a strong Rangers in order to thrive as the Gers await a $75 million tax ruling that could cripple them.
“I’m not in the camp who believe the SPL, or Celtic, need a strong Rangers,” Lennon told Sky Sports.
“I’d be quite happy if we were a lot stronger than Rangers. A lot of people think Celtic and Rangers need each other, well at the minute we don’t.
“We’re in a strong position financially with good young players coming through. But we’ve had to work hard and be patient for that.
“We are talking hypothetically as we don’t know what the outcome is going to be.
“But the people who suffer the most as always are the supporters and I have a lot of sympathy for the Rangers fans with the situation being the way it is at the moment.”
IRISH striker Kevin Doyle finally got amongst the goals for Wolves again with the crucial second goal in the 2-1 win for Mick McCarthy’s team at QPR on Saturday, his first goal since October.
Doyle said, “It has been a frustrating few weeks for me with the fact that I have not been playing and have been on the bench.
“So to get 45 minutes and a goal against QPR was great. Hopefully I can add to that and get a few more minutes in the next few weeks and try and show my form and make sure that I stay in the team for the rest of the season.
“It was nice to get the goal and nice to win the game. It’s been a while since we did so the three points was vital for us.”
Manager McCarthy said, “Doyler has been having it tough recently so for him to get his goal, I am really thrilled for him. He had a really good performance. He made a real difference.”
SUNDERLAND boss Martin O’Neill is adamant that young Irish winger James McClean is good enough to gatecrash Giovanni Trapattoni’s Euro 2012 plans.
McClean continued his dramatic rise up the ranks at Sunderland with the match winner as O’Neill’s team won 1-0 at Stoke on Saturday.
He should feature when Trapattoni names his squad this Friday for the February 29 friendly against the Czech Republic in Dublin.
O’Neill said, “James is performing brilliantly for us. He has had a great, great couple of months. Considering everything, I thought he took his goal brilliantly.
“I didn’t know him at all until I arrived at the football club, so to see him blossoming out there has been very pleasing for everyone, obviously myself included.
“I wouldn’t tell any manager how to do his job but I do think he is good enough for Ireland.”
LEON Best is all but out of the European Championships after picking up a knee injury during Newcastle United’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.
Best now faces six weeks on the sidelines and will miss the February 29 friendly against the Czech Republic in Dublin, effectively Ireland’s last game before Giovanni Trapattoni finalizes his Euro 2012 squad.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said, “Leon has got a medial ligament injury, which is usually a six-week layoff.”
IRISH striker Shane Long is confident he will return for West Brom’s Premier League derby with Wolves this weekend after undergoing heart tests following a recent health scare when he complained of chest pains. “It wasn’t nice but the tests are clear and everything is okay. I hope to be back for the Wolves game,” said Long . . .
CORK City have signed former Ireland under-21 international Shane O’Connor after his release by Ipswich Town. City have also agreed new deals with Jamie Murphy and Vinny Sullivan . . .
IRISH striker Eoin Doyle scored the only goal as Pat Fenlon’s Hibs booked their place in the Scottish Cup quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over Kilmarnock on Saturday . . .
ACCRINGTON Stanley want Sligo Rovers boss Paul Cook as their new manager, but the League of Ireland side are holding out for compensation for the Englishman . . .
SHAMROCK Rovers boss Stephen Kenny has signed former Arsenal, Leicester and Cardiff defender Kerrea Gilbert.
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