Offaly GAA today announced that Shane Lowry, the reigning Open Champion, has pledged his support as a partner with Offaly GAA. Offaly GAA are in the process of preparing a Strategic Plan which will have a significant focus on player development. As an elite international sportsman, Shane has offered his experience and expertise to inspire and help improve the development of our players.
Shane will also support our commercial and fundraising initiatives to help fund improvements in underage coaching programmes and develop educational bursaries for young Offaly players.
Lowry comes from a family steeped in the history of Offaly GAA and he is himself a devoted supporter of Clara GAA and Offaly GAA has always done his best to help with county fundraising initiatives most recently with a golf day in Esker Hills in 2019 that raised close to €200,000 to help finish develop the Faithful Fields Offaly Centre of Excellence.
Like many other counties, Offaly GAA experienced a very difficult financial year in 2020 and the county are presently on a fundraising drive. In support of this fundraising drive to put Offaly GAA on a more sustainable financial footing, the Clara man has pledged a personal annual financial contribution to Offaly GAA over the next 5 years.
“I was watching Limerick lift the Liam McCarthy in December and after the match I messaged JP McManus to congratulate him on all he has done to make that success possible.” Lowry recalled. ” i told JP I’m sure the people of Limerick are very proud, very happy, and very grateful of what you and all your family have done for Limerick and Limerick GAA and Limerick hurling.’
“I did say to him in the text that I’d only love to be able to do something for Offaly some day. JP texted me back and said something along the lines of the under-age system and getting involved in that – that’s what it’s all about. That’s what they looked at, putting good structures in place.”
That same night, Lowry spoke with his father, former Offaly All-Ireland winning footballer Brendan, about the idea of sponsoring the county before he messaged Michael Duignan, Chairperson at Offaly GAA.
“He’s very passionate about Offaly GAA, always has been. We talked about us both getting involved, our family getting involved, and try and push it that way.
“I texted Michael, I’m sure Dad did as well” added Lowry. “We got the ball rolling there. I met him over Christmas. We went out to the Faithful Fields in Kilcormac. It was the first time I’d seen it finished. So it was nice to see that. An amazing facility, probably one of the best training facilities in the country. To have that there, and not have the structures in place to fulfil that facility we have is kind of sad to see. I’m going to try and help as much as I can. I think there’s a long road ahead for Offaly GAA but hopefully this is the start of great things. We’re probably not going to see any reward over the next few years but in 10 or 20 years if I could somehow see an Offaly man walk up the steps in Croke Park, I’d probably die a happy man. That’s what this is all about for me.”
Duignan was only too delighted with the input from Lowry. “On behalf of Offaly GAA, I wish to sincerely thank Shane for coming on board as a Partner of Offaly GAA. We are all excited by the prospect of working with Shane in the coming years as we strive to improve the fortunes of the county. Shane has inspired us all in Offaly by the way he has progressed to the upper echelons of world golf and we are all extremely proud of his achievements. Shane has pledged his support to help our players of all ages to fulfil their potential. His passion, ambition and honesty of endeavour, while at all times remaining humble and grounded, are leadership attributes that we are looking to enhance in the culture of Offaly GAA.
Lowry is a realist when it comes to predicting results from the partnership and has not set any objectives for his involvement. “I think it’s a numbers game and the more people we can get back playing, the more good footballers and hurlers we’re going to produce. I’d just love to go back each year and see progress, and progress right now for Offaly GAA isn’t trophies, that’s not where we’re at, progress is the under-age system. We’ve two under-age (minor) sides in Leinster finals last year that unfortunately never got to play, so for me that’s progress. If you see stuff like that and under-age development squads doing well, beating the bigger teams. If we put the right plan in place, you can’t define progress by results over the next while.”
The Lowry name has always been synonymous with excellence within Offaly GAA and its great for Shane to be able to continue that legacy and take such a close interest despite spending half of his year in the US. Well done Shane, Uíbh Fhailí Abu!