Lovable Lowry leading golf’s popularity stakes

John Craven

Shane Lowry (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

According to leading sponsorship advisors Onside, Open Champion, Shane Lowry is Ireland’s Most Admired Sports Personality in golf 2019, with the Offaly swinger shooting his way into the top-5 for the first time this year.

Lowry takes the mantle as Ireland’s most popular golfer with Rory McIlroy returning to the Top-10 at No.10 following a year outside the polls’ top table last year.

Boxing hero, Katie Taylor is the undisputed champion of these charts again having emphatically defended her status as Ireland’s Most Admired Sports Personality with Brian O’Driscoll rolling back the years to jump two places to second spot and the man Ireland’s current Rugby World Cup campaign hinges on, Jonathan Sexton taking third.


For what it’s worth, Conor McGregor’s absence from the octagon has seen his standing drop from 3rd to 9th. No matter what you believe about the merits of this poll, having been inundated with nonsense from friends waxing lyrical about the fighter sitting on the throne of Ireland’s greatest sportsman in recent years, I’m taking Onside’s data as a small mercy against the lunacy that was these claims.

For context, the study says 2 in 3 Irish adults have an Irish sports star that they admire most, with 70 different sports personalities singled out for special recognition by the Irish public in the latest Onside research.

So, what do these rankings really mean for any of us? For me, I enjoyed quizzing family members about who they felt should make up the top-10. It’s subjective, thought-provoking and harmless, but if the aim of the game if to identify Ireland’s most admired sports people, then what’s the criteria for admiration?

‘Lowry beats McIlroy in Irish sports personality contest’ is hardly groundbreaking stuff given the Marmite reputation Rory has unfairly been slapped with on this island, but this particular poll is about admiration. That being said, a significant number of people admire world number 18 and Open Champion, Shane Lowry more than world number two and four-time Major winner, Rory McIlroy. It must be the beard?

Admiration is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but I’ve often thought this country had a quirky way of expressing affection for whom we develop a grá. Not to be presumptuous but when then U.S. President, Barack Obama came to Ireland in 2011, I’d wager that the vast majority of Irish people excited to see him weren’t familiar with his domestic policies, foreign practices or general economic success since taking office. One pint of Guinness in his ancestral home of Moneygall later and Obama’s had the Taj Mahal of a petrol station erected in his honour ever since, cardboard cut-out of himself and Michelle and all.

Now I’m not suggesting that when Rory McIlroy won the Irish Open at the K Club, if he had draped himself in a tricolour and downed a pint of Guinness in front of the cameras, that he’d be ahead of Lowry on this list – I’m guaranteeing it. Instead, he donated his entire winner’s cheque to charity having largely saved the tournament and has thus been relegated to the bottom of such popularity contests ever since. But sure look, it’s only a survey.

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