Draped in the tricolour, Ballyconnell girl Leona Maguire takes her turn to hold the Solheim Cup. Despite being a wildcard pick, Leona was the top performer on the European team.

'Now the whole world knows how incredible you really are'

ICONIC Maguire on fire as she sinks Team USA

Ballyconnell’s Leona Maguire has gate-crashed the elite of world sport after a series of sensational performances saw her lead the European team to glory at the Solheim Cup in Toledo, Ohio, USA.

The 26-year-old Cavanwoman was a wild card pick for the prestigious event and more than repaid captain Catriona Matthew’s faith with a succession of stellar showings.

The bare stats don’t do justice to the emphatic nature of Maguire’s performances but they merit repeating all the same. Maguire won 4.5 points out of a possible five, making her the top scorer on the European team.

She was the only player on either 12-woman team to be selected for every match, which is highly unusual for a rookie. Maguire paired with top English player Mel Reid in three of the four team matches, winning two and securing a vital half in the third, a match in which Reid struggled for long spells and Maguire’s extraordinary play kept the duo afloat.

In two of the matches, Leona defeated Nelly Korda, the world number one and recently-crowned Olympic and PGA champion. Korda’s sister Jessica was also taken down by the Cavan sensation.

In her final match on Monday evening against the vaunted Jennifer Kupcho, who had entered the match unbeaten, Maguire was four-under through seven holes and closed it out from there for an emphatic 5&4 win.

Arguably her most impressive performance was the win in the foursomes on day two when Maguire and Reid crushed Nelly Korda and matchplay specialist Ally Ewing.

Maguire’s phenomenal form – she is now the most successful rookie in the history of the biennial competition which features the very best players from the USA and Europe – saw her leading sports bulletins around the world and trending on social media, with A-List celebrities from the worlds of sport and entertainment posting their congratulations.

Leona’s twin sister Lisa was in attendance at the event and tweeted: “What a week for this absolute superstar. Now the whole world knows how incredible you really are and I couldn’t be prouder.”

Leona, who was the first-ever Irish player to make the European team, said: “The goal was to get my point, that’s all I can do.

“I’ve given it my absolute all this week, I couldn’t have given anything more. I couldn’t have asked for a better week and hopefully the girls can finish it off.”

She later added: “The support has been incredible. Hopefully we’ll see more of them in Spain in two years’ time. You’ll never beat the Irish!”

Chants of “MVP!” (Most Valuable Player) rang out from the grandstands as Maguire took her turn to hold the cup at the end of the event. Her performances will go down in the annals as among the greatest by an Irish athlete – and she’s only getting started.