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Passing of Christy O’Connor Snr revives memories of majestic golfing career

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Golfing legend and Galway native Christy O'Connor Snr who passed away at the age of 91 over the weekend.

GALWAY lost arguably its greatest sportsman of all-time with the passing of Christy O’Connor Snr at 91 in the Mater Hospital, Dublin last Saturday.

Just four months after the sudden death of his nephew and another acclaimed golfer, Christy O’Connor Jnr, Ireland’s trailblazer on the international circuit left a legacy of outstanding achievement on the fairways.

Born in Knocknacarra on December 21, 1924, O’Connor’s feats have stood the test of time as he made a major impact in the world of professional golf during the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

It was on his local course of Galway that O’Connor developed the classic swing which helped him win a staggering 44 tournaments, including the prestigious British Masters twice, the John Player Classic in 1970, and the News of the World Match Play in 1957.

The first golfer ever to win a five-figure sum in Europe, O’Connor played in every Ryder Cup from 1955 to 1973, setting a record of ten appearances in the event which stood until surpassed by Nick Faldo in 1997.

In 1958, O’Connor teamed up with Harry Bradshaw to win the then labelled Canada Cup (World Cup) in Mexico, while he was also Irish professional champion on ten occasions, including in 1978 when he was aged 53.

Subsequently, he became the leading ‘senior’ player of his era, winning the PGA Seniors Championship six times and the World Senior Championship in both 1976 and ’77.

On November 2, 2009, O’Connor received one of the highest honours in the sport when he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida.

Runner up in the 1965 British Open and twice winner of the Order of Merit, he was one of the game’s greatest ball strikers in his pomp.

BBC commentator Peter Alliss, who partnered O’Connor in several Ryder Cup matches, once described ‘Himself’ – as the Galway man was affectionately known – as a ‘golfing genius’.

Allis also recalled the many “glorious times” he spent with O’Connor, on and off the course. “I was his Ryder Cup partner for many years; we used to joke that nobody else would play with us.”

“He was a wonderful partner and a beautiful golfer. We weren’t renowned for being brilliant, consistent putters, but when we were on our day we could put in a few. We both hit the ball well – Christy was just a joy to play with. He really was a genius of the sport and was also a lovely man.”

Multiple Major winner, Gary Player, in a recent tribute, said O’Connor Snr and Sam Snead were the greatest natural players the world had ever seen. “If Christy could have putted like me, he would have won several majors,” added the South African legend.

Since his passing, many of Ireland’s leading golfers, both past and present, have gone on record about how much they revered Christy Snr and how his feats had inspired them, including Des Smyth, who said he was golfer they all aspired to be.

President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, issued the following tribute: “Christy O’Connor Snr was a gifted sportsman who opened up the ground for many talented Irish golfers. Those of us fortunate enough to have met him will never forget this outstanding man and his great character of humour and compassion.”

Christy O’Connor Snr was honoured as Galway’s Greatest Living Sporting Legend in January of 2014 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Galway Sports Stars awards.

Though illness prevented him from attending the awards ceremony, Christy Snr was deeply moved by the accolade, especially the fact that he was being recognised by his own people of Galway. He never forgot his roots.

 

CITY TRIBUNE

United make short work of Wexford FC in mis-match

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Galway United’s top scorer Stephen Walsh who twice hit the target in Friday's First Division win over Wexford FC.

Wexford FC 0

Galway United 4

WE’RE not yet at the half-way point in the season, but Galway United are playing like a side that will lift the First Division title come October. John Caulfield’s team made it six wins on the spin in Ferrycarrig Park last Friday.

Such was United’s dominance from the first whistle, the only thing Wexford were in with a shout of winning was the half-time raffle, and even then, the winner had Galway loyalties with the prize being won by the grandmother of Wexford native but United midfielder, Mikie Rowe.

United made one change to the side which trounced Cobh Ramblers the previous week, Gary Boylan coming in to start in a new formation which saw him play in the hole just between frontman, Stephen Walsh, and the attacking midfield trio of Wilson Waweru, Dave Hurley, and Ed McCarthy.

It was United’s second successive away game, and just like that trip to Cobh, this game was as good as over by half-time with the Tribesmen once again taking a 3-0 lead into the dressing room.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

O’Brien and McGowan make para-rowing history

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Steven McGowan and Katie O'Brien pictured in Italy with club coaches, Mike Gaffney and Conor Moloney.

Two members of Galway Rowing Club made history last weekend when they formed Ireland’s first competitive para-rowing crew as they attended a training camp in Italy, before competing in a para-rowing regatta.

Katie O’Brien from Clarinbridge was joined by clubmate, Roscommon native Steven McGowan, as they took what they hope is another step towards qualifying for the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.

The pair competed in the PR2 (back and arms) category in their first international para-rowing regatta in Gavirate in northern Italy, which was made possible by Galway Rowing Club’s move to actively support Rowing Ireland’s Paralympic rowing programme for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

O’Brien is a renowned oarswoman, and has competed on her own in the 1X in para-rowing, but there are no single seat boats in the Paralympics, so she and McGowan have joined forces in a new partnership.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

United seeking seventh win on the trot in home tie with Athlone Town

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Galway United’s Conor McCormack in action against Kurtis Byrne of Athlone Town last season. The teams clash in the First Division at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday evening.

JOHN Caulfield is preaching a message of patience ahead of his side’s home game with Athlone Town on Friday (7.45pm), a game which could see his side match the club record of seven consecutive wins.

That run was set in 2006, when United finished third in the First Division under Tony Cousins, and this Friday they ‘only’ need to beat the division’s basement side, and a side without a win this season, to match that run of a magnificent seven wins.

It is that kind of talk, however, that Caulfield is keen to stamp out, pointing out that, under new interim manager Dermot Lennon, the Midlands side have improved in recent weeks, and have only been beaten by a single goal in their last three games.

Longford Town edged the Midlands El Classico last weekend by the odd goal in three; Cork City won on a matching 2-1 score in the previous week, their winner coming with the last kick of the game; while Waterford scraped to a 1-0 win at home to De Town the week before that again.

“We have to show patience, we have to be strong from the start and impose our game, but we have to be patient,” the United manager told Tribune Sport this week.

“We need to keep our composure, keep to our game plan, keep our patience, and I would say that to the crowd as well, they need to be patient as Athlone will come and sit in and look to hit us on the counter-attack, and it will be up to us to break them down,” he said.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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