DUBLIN — Parishioners in the rural Irish parish of LPGA golf champion Leona Maguire have expressed pride at the 27-year-old’s historic achievement: the first Irish golfer to win the tournament.
“People are utterly delighted,” Father Oliver O’Reilly, priest at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Ballyconnell, told The Irish Catholic newspaper. He said that at Mass Feb. 6, the day after Maguire’s victory, took pride in Maguire as “a lovely, lovely person” who is “very humble and well spoken.”
When she is not on the golfing circuit, Maguire attends Mass at the parish.
After shooting six birdies in the final round, Maguire took home the winner’s check of $225,000 at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Crown Colony Golf and Country Club in Fort Myers, Florida. The win pushed her up to 20th in the world rankings, after having started at 177th in 2021.
O’Reilly said that, in the parish, “there has been a lot of excitement over the last couple of years, because when she got to the first Olympics there was a big celebration, and then with the Solheim Cup, she did so well, there was another big celebration around the town. So people are really pleased about it.”
He predicted a fresh round of celebrations following the result and said local people were eager to congratulate Maguire and her family.
“I actually spoke about it at the end of Mass, congratulating herself and her family on this great achievement,” he said.
O’Reilly said of Maguire’s successful career: “It is really doing an awful lot for the promotion of female sport generally. It’s absolutely essential to have those role models. I would hope that this is the first of many titles to come over the next number of years.”
Brady is deputy editor of The Irish Catholic, Dublin.