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.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty