Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Joe Kernan: The lessons everyone can learn from Rory McIlroy’s sporting genius

US Open Champion 2011 Rory McIlroy returns to Hollywood Golf Club
US Open Champion 2011 Rory McIlroy returns to Hollywood Golf Club
US Open champion Rory McIlroy returns home to Holywood Golf Club, Co. Down

Every team which has flirted with success without quite getting its hands on the prize that really matters now has the perfect role model from whom it can derive inspiration.

In winning the US Open, Rory McIlroy unwittingly lit a torch for all GAA teams and players who harbour ambitions of glory.

And yet it was not because he lifted one of the most coveted prizes in world sport that Rory championed the cause of the underdog.

Rather, it was because he learned so much from losing that he emerged as the most convincing victor in golf’s most elite event.

His sporting genius is all the more admirable because it is accompanied by obvious warmth, dignity, humility and appreciation for what was done for him in his formative years.

Hunger has driven him to the very top — just as it can transport all teams who have self-belief, commitment and a willingness to absorb harsh lessons to a higher plateau.

Seldom have I heard such sincere, glowing accolades accorded to a young sportsman as those which were lavished on Rory earlier this week.

His feat — and there will be many more to come, of that I am sure — underlines what can be achieved by utter dedication, self-sacrifice and an ability to digest setbacks with equanimity.

Over the course of the next three months the All Ireland championships in both football and hurling will build up to a climax.

It is my fervent hope that the teams which reach the respective finals will embody the excellent attributes which Rory McIlroy has epitomised so graciously.

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