Paul McGinley
So here’s the big news of the week – Paul McGinley will captain the European team at the 2014 Ryder Cup in Gleneagles golf club, the first Irishman charged with such an honor.

There may be bigger news out there in your world. You may be more interested in the Lance Armstrong love-in with Oprah Winfrey that is going to dominate television screens across the world on Thursday and Friday.

You may want to know how Manchester United and Manchester City maintained their title ambitions in the English Premier League on Sunday with wins over Liverpool and Arsenal respectively on a Super Sunday last weekend.

Perhaps Celtic’s progress at their winter training base in Spain is of more interest to you than a bit of golf news.

The Dublin youngster Ciaran Kilkenny has certainly caused a stir after deciding not to return to an Aussie Rules career with the Melbourne club Hawthorn.

Kilkenny’s decision to turn his back on a very lucrative life as a professional sportsman down under is very newsworthy and will create headlines for many weeks and months to come as the new GAA season takes shape.

But for some of us – and I make no apologies for being in this particular camp – McGinley’s appointment as Europe’s captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland is the big story, a triumph for Ireland and for Irish golf.
It is also a triumph for decency, not least because it upset a late move by some to re-appoint the 2010 captain Colin Montgomerie for a second term in office.

Monty, as Rory McIlroy pointed out repeatedly in his role as McGinley cheerleader, already had his chance and took it at Celtic Manor.

He was also in danger of breaking the unwritten rule of modern day Ryder Cup golf which states that a captaincy is a one term honor with Team Europe, and never any more than that.

Thankfully common sense ruled in Abu Dhabi, and the committee which decides such things went with the opinion of the players.

On Monday, as the world awaited a second coming from Monty, the likes of McIlroy and Luke Donald spoke openly, on Twitter mind you, of their support for the Dub with Donegal roots.

Their pre-election backing was well founded. McGinley has been a Ryder Cup winner as a player and as a vice captain.

He knows as well as anyone what it takes to win this cup, even in unlikely circumstances like those which pertained for the miracle at Medinah last September when he stood alongside winning captain Jose Maria Olazabal in the trenches.

Even when the decision was made on Tuesday, as he basked publicly in the confirmation of his new status, McGinley admitted that the team sport element of the Ryder Cup and its likes has always brought out the best in him.

“I would have to say I raised my game to another level when I played team golf, I played better in the Ryder Cup than I ever did as an individual,” McGinley told the media in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday just minutes after confirmation that he will lead Europe in 2014.

Then he revealed to those who didn’t already know it, where the team ethic comes from.

“The psychologists will probably tell you it goes back to my time as a Gaelic footballer in Dublin. I loved being part of a team, being in a dressing room, being one of the lads,” he said.

“The closest I got to that in golf was the Ryder Cup and is the Ryder Cup. Maybe that’s why it means so much for me and has been so good for me.”

The truth about the GAA is that it nearly denied McGinley the Ryder Cup experience altogether.

Good enough to be earmarked as a star of the future by the Dublin football selectors in his youth, he was unfortunate enough to pick up a knee injury as a teenager that brought a sudden end to his prospective inter-county career.

When he realized that a Dublin jersey at senior level was never going to be his, Paul turned to the game of golf so beloved of his Donegal-born father Michael.

Very quickly, along with another young man by the name of Padraig Harrington, he was the one to watch in Irish golfing circles.

This week, McGinley is again the name to watch in Irish golf.

And the country that gave Messrs Bradshaw, Daly, O’Connor, Clarke, McIlroy and McDowell to the world finally has a Ryder Cup captain all of its own.

That, as I suggested earlier, is big news and for Donegal as much as it is for Ireland.

The county currently hosting the Sam Maguire trophy that is the domain of the All-Ireland football champions has always been proud of its golfing son Paul McGinley.

So who knows, maybe Jim McGuinness will be added to the European team’s backroom staff when they start winning matches at Gleneagles in 2014.

If so, the transformation from GAA to golf will be complete for the one and only Paul McGinley, proof positive that nice guys can be winners as well.

(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin).

Sideline Views
SOCCER: You deserve to know the story of Premier League linesman John Brooks, who officiated as Manchester City defeated Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates on Sunday. Many City fans boycotted the game in London in protest at Arsenal charging them just over $100 for the privilege. Those who did sit in the visitor’s section protested at the high prices so when the game was over, Brooks advised the City players to go over and salute the traveling supporters. His reward for decency was to be dropped from the refereeing team for the FA Cup replay between West Brom and QPR on Tuesday night. The English FA have denied their action is a punishment, but you have to wonder!

SOCCER: Richard Dunne is finally back in training with Aston Villa after three operations to overcome a troublesome groin injury, two of them in America.  He might be back in the U.S. soon as well with the likes of the LA Galaxy and the New York Red Bulls linked with his services in recent weeks. Like the other older players at Villa, Dunne seems to have little future under manager Paul Lambert. So maybe MLS will appeal to him.

SOCCER: Robbie Keane is back in English football, but only as an observer. The LA Galaxy striker is to train for the next two weeks with his old club Spurs before he returns to America in time for the new MLS season. Keane insists he won’t be signing on as a player for Spurs, not even in an emergency. This time I think we have to believe him despite a successful loan spell with Aston Villa last season.

GAA: Congratulations to Clare fan Marty Morrissey on his appointment as RTE’s new Gaelic games correspondent. What I didn’t know until he got the job this week is that Marty lived in New York for the first 11 years of his life or so. Now you know that as well.

RACING: Champion jockey Tony McCoy wrote a fascinating account of his own life a couple of years ago. Now he’s to team up with publishers Orion again to write a racing thriller. If it’s half as good as his autobiography it will be well worth a read.

SOCCER: Gordon Strachan, named as the new Scotland manager on Tuesday, bears a passing resemblance to Davy Carton, lead singer with Galway’s finest band the Sawdoctors. I wonder has the former Celtic manager ever been on the N17?

RUGBY: Ronan O’Gara could miss the Six Nations after he was cited for kicking out at an opponent in the win over Edinburgh on Saturday. That must be the first time his book got him in trouble!

SOCCER: Shay Given wants to play for Ireland again. Eamon Dunphy thinks it would be a mistake. All the more reason for Trap to pick Shay ASAP!

PAUL McGinley is the first Irishman to captain a Ryder Cup team and the wait for Irish golf will be worth it when the bi-annual tournament heads to Scotland in the summer of 2014. A noted GAA player as a kid, McGinley is also a Celtic and West Ham nut and a great leader. If he’s good enough for world number one Rory McIlroy, who backed him very publicly, then McGinley will be good enough for Europe.

I DON’T blame Steve Collins or Roy Jones, Jr. for agreeing to their old man’s fight in Europe three months from now. They will make serious dollars if the bout goes ahead, but how on earth can the boxing authorities even contemplate allowing a 48-year-old like Collins back into the ring? I know money talks louder in boxing than any other sport, but this is ridiculous!