FLAGS were flying, people were cheering, crowds flocked the street and young children looked on in awe as Fermanagh and Cavan welcomed home their hero, the most successful Solheim Cup rookie of all time, Leona Maguire.
The 26-year old golfer made history as she won four and a half points to help Team Europe to a 15-13 victory over the United States of America in the Solheim Cup.
On her return to Cavan Maguire was given a heroes welcome – one that she hopes will inspire young children to get involved in sport.
“It is great to see so many kids out here too and hopefully they will see the power of sport and encourage them to pick up the golf club,” she says.
During the Solheim Cup journey, people all throughout Ireland got behind the Cavan rookie and she feels “incredibly lucky” to have received so much support from the local community.
“It really does take a village and I am incredibly lucky to have the team that I have around me. Hopefully this is the first of many Solheim Cups and hopefully we can have more homecomings like this in the future.
“I would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone that has come out here. It is great to see so many tricolours and European flags and Cavan jerseys and all the rest of it. It is not just this week – everyone that put our flags and signs for the Olympics, it has really been a long journey and I couldn’t have done it without the support of everyone here in the local community.
“It would be remiss if I didn’t thank the Quinn family. We wouldn’t be here without them today, without this venue,” she claims, to a wide applause from the people outside the Slieve Russell Hotel.
Throughout the competition, people remarked how cool and relaxed the young star was, and when asked the question of how she remained so calm, Leona credits her sister Lisa and Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley with helping her deal with the pressure of playing on the international stage.
“Lisa has been a massive part of my journey. There is no doubt that I wouldn’t be here where I am without Lisa. We spent so many hours out here practising and playing against each other. It was nice to have her there to share the journey.
“We played junior Solheim together so even though she wasn’t on this team, it felt like she was on the team.
“I had a good chat with Paul McGinley before I left and he reassured me that I just need to do my own things and treat like any other event.”
At the minute, Leona is basking in the glory of her Solheim Cup heroics but the humble golfer admits that “there is still a lot of golf to look forward to” as she targets more golfing success.
“[I am] home for about a week and a half and then back out to the States for three events, one in Seoul and two in New Jersey.
“The plan is to go to Asia, Korea and Japan but we are not sure if they are going to happen and then finish off the year in Florida.
“There is still a lot of golf to look forward to and hopefully the people that were cheering us on this week will continue to cheer us on for the rest of the year,” she concludes.
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