Two years ago a young woman from Cavan spearheaded Europe to just their second ever Solheim Cup win on US soil in record-breaking fashion. Irish women’s golf hasn’t looked back since.
Joined on the LPGA Tour by stalwart figure Stephanie Meadow and on the LET by Olivia Mehaffey, Maguire’s exploits over the last three seasons have inspired a generation of young talent behind her, and believe it, they are coming.
After achieving a record breaking 4.5 points out of 5 as a rookie and Ireland’s first Solheim Cup player in Ohio two years ago, Maguire kicked on and broke more ground as Ireland’s maiden LPGA Tour winner in February of last year before notching her second win at the Meijer LPGA Classic earlier this term.
On top of her second tour title, 2023 has seen Maguire climb into the top-10 in the Rolex World Rankings and compete to win her maiden major title at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Maguire isn’t the only one carrying the flag for Irish women’s sport, female athletes are making waves and are topping lists in the Irish sport scene.
Just this year alone, Katie Taylor brought boxing back to Ireland, albeit a coveted Croke Park date could not come to fruition while the Republic of Ireland WNT qualified for its first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia where Katie McCabe scored THAT goal from a corner.
Everybody knows who Katie Taylor is and everybody knows who Katie McCabe is. In fact, there is an argument that Taylor might be Ireland’s greatest sportsperson, able to stand shoulder to shoulder with Roy Keane, Pádraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy.
Rhasidat Adeleke looks like the next big thing in Irish athletics with not even casual athletics fans tuning in to the recent World Championships in Budapest to catch a glimpse of our next star. Don’t be surprised to see your local athletics club heaving with young girls and boys – if they aren’t already – striving to emulate the Tallaght star.
The impact of Taylor’s exploits have already been seen in the emergence of Kellie Harrington while Irish women’s golf couldn’t be in better shape as far as the amateur scene is concerned.
Lauren Walsh played in two Curtis Cups and enjoyed a stellar college career with Wake Forest and the hope is that she will be walking the fairways with Maguire on the LPGA Tour sooner rather than later having turned professional this summer.
Aine Donegan showed that if you can’t see you can’t be with a superb performance as an amateur at the US Women’s Open while four of Ireland’s seven amateur invites made the cut at the KPMG Irish Women’s Open. The impact of Maguire’s Solheim Cup exploits two years ago are being felt.
Maguire may well share the load of inspiration with Walsh, Donegan and Sara Byrne after this year but while Taylor, McCabe and Adeleke have inspired on the world stage next weekend in Finca Cortesin will be her turn to have the spotlight as Europe bid for a historic third Solheim Cup in a row.
After her performance two years ago Golf Ireland was keen to increase the promotion and media exposure for the women’s game and brought the KPMG Irish Women’s Open back to the LET after a decade-long hiatus.
Might another eye catching performance from Maguire prompt tournament organisers to co-sanction the now Carton House event with the LPGA Tour to give it the field and prize purse it so richly deserves?
Those who follow women in team sports in Ireland will be used to empty stadiums, inadequate or non existent changing facilities, ill fitting kits and discriminatory and dismissive comments – even despite all the success in recent years.
Women’s golf is no exception although huge progress has been made from the pre-historic days of men wearing sweater vests and waiting for the wife to pick them up from the golf club every Sunday.
Despite this we do still see the sexist male single figure golfer blissfully claim how he could take on the best LPGA Tour players out there. Even during last year’s AIG Women’s Open one so called former ‘sports journalist’ commented: “is there a worse species than female pro golfers?”
Katie Taylor has shut almost everybody up, Katie McCabe shut a lot of people up and Leona Maguire can do the same at this year’s Solheim Cup with a repeat of her 2021 heroics.
Then, maybe next year, she can give Irish women’s golf and sport their own Pádraig Harrington moment and win a major championship.