THOUSANDS thronged the town of Clara as all conquering Offaly Rover Shane Lowry returned in Open triumph.
Stepping off a bus outside Cowen’s public house yesterday evening [Tuesday], clutching the coveted Claret Jug, he was swamped by well-wishers as a chorus of ‘Ole, Ole, Ole’ rang out once again.
Flanked by his wife Wendy, followed by his grandmother Emily Scanlon and his parents, Brendan and Bridget, he walked up to the Green in the town centre.
A human cordon comprising Clara GAA, Offaly County Council and Gardai formed around him such was the press of fans on the road.
On the stage, where Birr singer Mundy had been warming up the crowd with renditions of favourites like ‘The Offaly Rover’ and ‘July’, Mullingar impressionist Conor Moore preceded the Royal Portrush hero’s moment in the sun.
And when the 32-year-old Clara man took the microphone alongside compere Des Cahill and held the newly christened Clara Jug aloft, the massive crowd erupted in adulation.
Ever a humble soul, the Major winner soon paid tribute to his parents.
To roars of laughter he remarked, “Obviously I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Shane spoke about looking into the crowd in Portrush and picking out familiar faces. “One of them in particular, is like Marmite, you either love him or hate him, Nigel Monaghan.”
“The lads on the hill at the 16th were fairly boisterous. They felt I had it in the bag, I didn’t feel at the time.”
Shane, who wiped away tears of joy in the bus when he saw the greeting multitude, said “When you see how happy people are, it was an incredible day.”
Full coverage of Shane Lowry’s historic Open win in special eight page supplement and on pages 64, 65 and 80 in sports section inside.