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Deegan’s delighted for McDowell

Down legend Conor Deegan took great pleasure in Graham McDowell’s historic US Open victory.

For at last year’s Irish Open at Baltry, Deegan, who plays off plus four, jumped at the chance of caddying for the Portrush man.

“Graham was shooting a practice round and I was asked would I mind being his caddy for a round,” he said. “I’m fortunate enough to play off a reasonably good handicap so you don’t turn down a chance to watch a pro close up, especially one who was in the top 50 at the time.

“He struck me as being a very decent gentleman so you can imagine how delighted I was to see him win the US Open in the early hours of Monday morning.”

Deegan, who won All Ireland senior medals with Down in 1991 and 1994, was struck by McDowell’s unwavering confidence and self belief.

It didn’t surprise Deegan that in the second round of the Irish Open McDowell actually shot a 62.

“It wasn’t an overbearing confidence. He knew he was good and so had the confidence to play all the shots,” he added.

“The day I caddied for him he shot six or seven under without breaking sweat.”

Conor grew up playing golf along with his younger brother Gerard, who played on the same Irish Boys team as a certain Padraig Harrington. Every year the Deegan brothers spent their summers on the golf course.

Now based in Dublin, Conor plays at the Castle, a neat little parkland course close to the centre of Dublin. He still finds time though for his first love, the GAA, managing Dublin Division Two side Skerries.

“I enjoy golf immensely, but football is still my number one,” he said. “Skerries is a small country club but we’re coping well with limited resources.”

He may have enjoyed watching McDowell capture the US Open, but watching his native Down in action against Tyrone last Saturday evening made for painful viewing.

“You can talk until you are blue in the face but all the top sides have strong defences,” said Deegan. “You can argue that good sides had flair players, but they still had a formidable defence.”

Deegan, a classy full back in Down’s All Ireland successes in 1991 and 1994, is adamant that it’s defences that win matches, forwards determine by how much.

“Take Tyrone they would happily win a game four points to three,” he added. “Defending is a great art and Tyrone have it off to a tee.

“No disrespect to Down, but they simply don’t have the players and they are still very much a developing side.

“If Tyrone don’t win the All Ireland they will have a huge say in who does. I don’t believe they are shooting out the lights just yet as there’s so much more still to come.

“My only concern is that if Kerry are still in the championship by August they will have Tagdh Kennelly and David Walsh back from Australia and in that event would take some beating.”

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