What Northern Ireland might learn from Rory McIlroy… (ie, sidestepping vanity, becoming the thing you want to be…)

There’s an odd typo in one of the few press releases to make it through Sinn Fein’s unofficial (and largely unreported embargo on letting any substantial work past through its hands at OFMdFM). In only its second effort of the First and deputy First Minster talk about McIlroy’s “rich vain of form.”

Maybe it’s because Stormont Castle’s legion of press officers have so little to do that they made such a trifling if telling mistake… In any case, vanity is a hazard in golf as much as it is in politics…

Malachi O’Doherty bangs several nails firmly on the head

…it is tempting to think that Rory is the icon of the new Northern Ireland, young and confident, unstained by the past, confident in his Irishness and his Ulsterishness – if we can call it that. The Ulster flag that he has at times draped himself with is not for him as threatening or aggressive as it is for those of a generation older than him.

Rory shows us how lightly one might be oneself, when others would claim him and make him their badge or damn him as a turncoat.

It’s simple, really; you just concentrate on the job in hand. You play the game. You set your priorities by how you will excel, not by who claims your allegiance.

That is you have to actually do something, ie play the games boys? Anyhoo, last word to Malachi..

We could look at him and think, he really is one of us. He does what we do. He flashes with occasional brilliance and then cowps. Well, what do you expect?

He comes from wee Ulster, where nothing works. Where the whole economy is a charade, mostly just the circulation of public money. Where political imagination dries up as soon as the rabble at the back claim attention.

Where we tell ourselves we have the best education system in the world, though a quarter of young people couldn’t read the back of a crisp bag. It’s just that imagining we are so much better than we actually are seems to be the device by which we get through life here, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Rory was just like that, too.

What is surprising is that he’s not, that he’s bloody brilliant.

And for that we should cherish him and not spoil him, not make him mean anything more than he does. Which is that with discipline and application, with self-awareness and good nature, a young man from Holywood, Co Down, can be the best in the world.

And the best that we can do is not make it harder for him, either by pinning all our dreams on him or by sneering when he turns out to be human.

  • chrisjones2

    Rory is doing what most of the rest of us are doing. Ignoring the politicians and getting on with our lives. Our contempt is what they most fera

  • Joe_Hoggs

    I would not call Rory a role model by any means, a reasonably good golfer but that is all.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    He’s makes me proud to be Northern Irish and I can’t say that about many things in this shithouse. Of course he’s a role model Joe. Which other non political Northern Irish person would you point to?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    He’s arrogant, rude, doesn’t treat his girlfriends with much respect, self destructs more times than enough on the course and has nowhere near reached the dizzy heights expected of him when he signed the multi million pound deal.

    Yes I’ll still support him but he’s not a role model.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    So I’m not allowed to put across my point of view then? I didn’t realise this article was just a back patting exercise for good old Rory.

  • kensei

    “…it is tempting to think that Rory is the icon of the new Northern Ireland, young and confident, unstained by the past, confident in his Irishness and his Ulsterishness – if we can call it that. The Ulster flag that he has at times draped himself with is not for him as threatening or aggressive as it is for those of a generation older than him.”

    Well, you could, but that would a massive overreach, the type only propagated by morons. What Rory McIlroy’s view of the world, who he plays for and whatever else tells us precisely diddly squat about your average pleb on the streets of Bangor, nevermind Belfast or Derry.

    And as pointed out above, his sporting prowess skirts over a lot of personal issues that don’t exactly show him as a great role model. I have an innate dislike of him since he allowed wedding invitations to go out the same week he cancelled the thing. In one sense, this is the right thing to do in that he didn’t leave the girl or actually, god help her, marry her but letting it get that far just offends my values.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Joe – you’ve every right to your view, however half assed it might be.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    I’m sure your innate dislike of him Kensei keeps him awake at night.

  • Ernekid

    Golf is a good walk spoilt. I’ve no interest in it as a sport or anyone who plays it as they are all incredibly dull. Especially Rory McIlroy. Imagine being stuck in a lift with him. His boring monotone voice would send you to tears as he prattles on about Birdies, Handicaps and Santander’s 123 flexaccount

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Sergio, are you Rory incognito? I can’t understand why you can’t accept healthy criticism of a very flawed individual.

  • kensei

    I’m sure he cares about as much as I care about his opinion on politics. Kinda my point

  • Tacapall

    Lets not get all emotional about someone who has his every PR need catered for. That wrapping up in the loyalist Ulster flag was nothing more than a PR stunt that seems so out of place now that his PR team have decided his loyalties lie elsewhere. He’s a great golfer there’s no doubt about that, world class, but when it comes to role models, highly paid sportsmen sponsored by banks and such are not the type of person someone from the likes of West Belfast (His true roots) would look up to.

    By the way Mick it wasn’t an Ulster flag he draped himself in. Heres an Ulster flag –

  • npbinni

    Looks like your spell checker doesn’t work any better than SF’s!

  • npbinni

    just realised that it wasn’t a SF spell checker, it was an OFMdFM’s!

  • AMS2013

    I’d be more interested in what readers have to think about David Cameron telling parliament about “big Nations bullying smaller Nations” with regards to Ukraine.
    If you are Irish,…this can’t be help make you whince and guffaw at the audacity of the Brits.
    Or more to the point..Maybe I should be proud to be Irish after 800 years at my ancestors telling the Brits this very same thing..It may just be sinking in.
    What price Ulcer if this last part was true.

  • Mister_Joe

    C’mon, He’s a golfer, a very good golfer. He doesn’t pretend to be anything else.

  • gendjinn

    What can we learn from Rory?

    That even if you mistakenly think you are British in your callow youth, maturity & redemption will eventually deliver to your true nationality?

  • gendjinn

    I see you’re a fan of Churchill quotes.

  • Mister_Joe

    The comment has been attributed to various people; Mark Twain for example. Maybe they all said it at one time or other.

  • Barneyt

    I’m sure it was a loyalist flag (white, St Georges cross, 6 county star and crown), which some refer to as the Northern Ireland flag. Of course I don’t believe there is such a thing. What is the “wee Ulster” reference about too?

    Rory has been misguided with regard to his country allegiance and the choice he had to make and the clear sensitivities that exist. I feel he has lost some respect that he would have gained had he been in charge of his own decision and stuck to his guns. He should be long enough in the tooth to understand his own nationality.

    So, if we learn from Rory, we should become what we are advised to be…but only have making a tit of ourselves? In that respect, there are many that have already taken his influence.

  • babyface finlayson

    A good walk spoiled eh?
    Rather like the return march to Ligoniel.
    The unfortunate Orangemen tried to find a fair way but ended up in a bunker in Camp Twaddell,and they still have to negotiate the green.

  • Nevin

    For Rory and many others, there’s no place like home:

    “I am very proud and honoured to be come home as the Open champion and to be congratulated by everyone. I am very proud to be from Northern Ireland,” he told gathered reporters.

    “I am very proud of where I come from; I will never forget where I come from and to be able to share these sorts of moments with the people from back home and friends and family is absolutely wonderful.”

    He added: “Hopefully there will be many more to come. Hopefully, a few more visits back here in the future.” .. source

  • Nevin

    “That is you have to actually do something, ie play the games boys?”

    The Stormont game is tug-of-war and Peter and Martin play for TeamUK and TeamIreland respectively. Anyone who portrays Martin as a TeamUK player qualifies for the category of political illiterate.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Excellent Babyface.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    How’s about we milk his victory and all the events that we’ve hosted recently (and GoT, naturally) and apply to host the Commonwealth Games?
    We’re getting all these new stadiums anyway, we need a fleg, we need something to be done about Belfast in summertime, it’ll be an excuse to tart the place up and an excuse to upgrade the rail system and indeed cross border links.
    And it’ll give us plenty to bitch about as we watch our elected representatives mess it up.

  • Ernekid

    Why would we need cross border rail links? They had enough sense down South to leave the Commonwealth in 1949. Whats the point of the Commonwealth games anyway? It’s just a knock off Olympics.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Cos people will fly into Dublin Airport and wish to see round them while they’re here.

    Upgrade the line to Stroke-City and join it to the Sligo line.

    A Dublin – Belfast – Derry -Galway quadrangle of fun!

  • Ernekid

    I agree Ireland’s rail links are piss poor. only 4 of the 9 Ulster counties have trainlines

  • Sergiogiorgio

    I think a lot of the negative comments on here illustrate why this place is such a navel gazing, self absorbed shithouse. We have the best golfer on the planet, lauded globally, and all we can do is view the guy through a political lens – which flag did he wrap himself, which team will he play for. We just keep spinning down the plug hole because we are all so bloody cynical. With all the negative (rightly so) reporting of Northern Ireland we can no longer recognise and celebrate something hugely positive. The guy has no axe to grind…he does what he does and does it better than anyone else. Some posters should take a look at themselves….sad, cynical, mediocrity.

  • the rich get richer

    Though a brilliant golfer is Rory the brightest club in the bag.

    Normally I believe that top sports people are very bright i think their are exceptions.

  • kensei

    I believe the piece looks at him through a political lens, rather than me – projecting a fairly unique individual in a lot of respects onto the unsuspecting six county populace. I have never cared who he played for or his politics. He said he felt more British, if he deep down wanted to play for the GB team he should have and damn everyone else. The difficulties he had suggests he is not quite as easy with his identity as the piece above suggests though,.

    But he is a professional golfer. He plays for himself. The local angle gives him a hook, but I’ve never felt that was enough on its own to be worth cheering, in the same manner as team sports. I always preferred Jimmy White to Alex Higgins, for example. Rory just rubs me the wrong way. If I happen to be watching golf, which is likely only a major or the Ryder Cup, I tend to root for underdogs or someone with character. Given how close he’s been in the past and his troubles, it’d have been amazing if Segio had caught him.

    All of which is politics free. Malachi and Mick and you apparently keep wanting to ascribe political motives. I just went with my gut.

  • David Nelson

    If you want to know the truth about the relation (the real relation) between
    Rory McIlroy and Northern Ireland read this article just posted right now: http://goo.gl/mGX6ju

  • Chris Browne

    Hard to beat the replies to this thread that criticise Rory for his personal relationships. Hilarious. One could point out that the much publicised split from his fiancée was actually a very mature decision that he arguably should have taken sooner – although one wouldn’t point that out as it is entirely irrelevant.

    We can’t all be quite as infallible as ‘kensei’ and ‘Joe Hoggs’. Some of us are but human and do make errors of judgement.

  • Chris Browne

    I’ll add that I entirely agree with everything Malachi says in his article.

  • kensei

    If you are putting him up as role model it’s entirely relevant. I’ve just never taken to him for entirely non political reasons – I’ve certainly made my share of misjudgements, but I try very hard not to mess with other people’s feelings as a matter of principle. The fact he let it get that far smacks of immaturity, and that type of stuff just annoys me. If you are fine with it – great. Buy a ticket to an event and cheer him on, or buy a golf club with his signature on it. I don’t really have a beef.

    Am I required to like him, or something?

  • Chris Browne

    No, but it would appear strange to judge someone based on a situation that you know nothing about. Unless you know more than what has been written in the press? (Or you assume that what is written in the press is the truth and nothing but the truth.)

    I believe he is an excellent role model based on his sporting success and his excellent ability to handle himself publicly in difficult circumstances. I do not believe his personal life should come into play. He has not done anything immoral or criminal. The fact we are even discussing it is farcical.

    Do I believe he is Northern Ireland’s greatest ever role model? Probably not. Do I think he might lose touch with where he comes from? Potentially – who knows?. But right now – he is a great thing for NI. His success sends a certain message for the reasons outlined in the original article.

  • Mister_Joe

    Good puns, babyface.

  • kensei

    There’s more than just that – wee things like not signing autographs, dumping his management company as soon as a better offer came, the mental breakdowns on the course that just rub me the wrong way. Exceptional talent, but seems quite normal (i.e. flawed as any other young man) otherwise.

    I am a low information golf follower, I probably know less than what has been in the papers. It’s just a gut feeling and no more. Just never warmed to him. But I’m not the one selling him as an icon of a new generation and a role model.

    Tiger is a cautionary tale – he did really seem like a great role model – professional, driven, brilliant, overcame a difficult establishment. But it turned out his ethics were… less than sound. I sort of object to setting sports people on a pedestal in principle. The best role models are people are around you who you can see every day.

  • Chris Browne

    Those are incredibly unfair things to throw back in his face. For one, the management company issue is part of an ongoing court case – but I am glad to see you’ve already made your judgement and dumped the blame at his door. Re autographs – if you are referring to the incident at the Open – then it was one autograph whilst his round was still ongoing (he hadn’t reached the recorder’s hut yet and thus shouldn’t be signing anything but his scorecard).

    However I shouldn’t allow myself to get dragged down into such detail. If you want to judge an individual based upon a gut feeling and very little context or background knowledge – then that is your prerogative and we have very little to discuss. I disagree but you have your opinion.

  • kensei

    Sports fans are of course well noted for being fair. In any case I’m not sure Rory or Sergio can here me from the TV, so who I cheer isn’t even a matter of minor note.

    Maybe my impression in all these cases is wrong. Could well be. Generally a sports person has an easier time (as both an athlete and a role model) if they dont require constant defence. Liverpool fans loved rushing to the defence of Suarez in the past year.

  • babyface finlayson

    Thanks Joe (and Joe)
    I am taking part in the 2016 Olympics, in the Pun-tathalon as a matter of fact.
    I haven’t decided yet whether to represent Ireland or GB.

  • gendjinn

    Churchill, Clements, they’re both very quotable.

  • George Fleming

    One Question remains, will Rory accept an OBE from the Queen shortly which automatically goes to a British pro golfer who wins the Open Championship like Darren Clarke received? Irish republican & Irish American golf supporters delighted he has stated he will play for Ireland in 2016 will not be pleased if he accepts an OBE from The Queen for winning “The British Open Championship”.

  • Comrade Stalin

    You beat me to it Chris.

    I don’t judge people on their relationships, but if I did I’m not sure what I’d fault. It’s early days for a person his age, and he’d hardly be the first person to run a mile when the reality of commitment and parenthood actually set in (especially if he got engaged under pressure). Far better to put a stop to it now rather than have a messy and very public divorce/fallout later.

    To me that’s a mature and considered approach. If more people did that, the divorce rate would be a lot lower than it is. We absolutely should be teaching young people to think things through and not go sleepwalking into something they are not happy with.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Officially, the flag is the standard of the Government of Northern Ireland (1922-1972) – it does not represent a nation or country, but a discredited and long-gone government.In most circumstances I’d consider its use offensive, akin to flying the flag of the Confederacy in the USA, but I don’t get too worked up about it when sports personalities use it with the best of intentions in the absence of anything better.

  • Mister_Joe

    I guess you’re not a golfer. There is no such thing as The “British” Open Championship.

  • George Fleming
  • George Fleming

    Something about the word British annoy you Mister Joe.
    “The Open Championship, or simply The Open (often referred to as the British Open)”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Open_Championship

  • Thomas Girvan

    All hese negative comments are because he doesn’t present himself as a stereotypical Nationalist.
    All this crap about how people don’t like him because of how he broke off his personal relationship is a load of silly nonsense.
    The same thing happened to Barry McGuigan when he took British citizenship, to further his career.
    I was in court when Barry lost his case against Barney Eastwood, and I remember shouts of “Brit B******d”, from the public gallery.
    Let’s face it,it is just the usual sectarianism, coming to the surface.
    It is a shame, because he is probably the greatest sportsman Ireland has ever had, and some cretins have to slag him off.

  • Mister_Joe

    Oh, so sorry. I forgot that Wikipedia is an impeccable source of information. And no, I have never had a problem with the word British as you would see if you looked at my previous posts. I am puzzled as to why you would suggest such a thing.

  • George Fleming

    Wikipedia is not the only source on the internet which refers to The Open as the British Open. Read: these “Related Articles By Brent Kelley”

    “Who was the First Non-Brit Golfer to Win the British Open?

    1903 British Open Golf Tournament

    1900 British Open Golf Tournament – Results and Scores 1900 British Open

    Who Was the First American Golfer to Win the British Open?

    Who Was the First Non-Scot Golfer to Win the British Open?”


  • George Fleming

    Mister Joe, British Open is mentioned here again in this well known sports mag. Guess the editor of the mag is not a golfer either.

    “Rory McIlroy, British Open champ, featured on this week’s Sports Illustrated cover…wire-to-wire victory last weekend at the British Open….”I just want to be the best golfer I can be,” McIlroy said after the British Open. Read more: http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/british-open-champ-rory-mcIlroy-si-cover#ixzz38Pfax5lf

  • Mister_Joe

    Are you trying to convince me that American sports magazines and their writers have really always been jealous that their “Open” only takes second place?

  • Floreat Ultonia

    Commonwealth Games in Belfast? Excellent- we have all the venues:

    Stormont: Small-bore shooting (off)

    Ardoyne: 10km walk

    City Hall: Fighting

    Windsor Park: Beach Volleyball