Foster and O’Neill swap heels for flats in latest sporting challenge

There were jokes about ‘appalling’ football players in Co Tyrone last month as Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill tried their hand at golf in Co Down.

Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill on the golf course
Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill on the golf course

Northern Ireland’s First Minister and deputy First Minister swapped their high heels for flats for their latest sporting challenge.

Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill arrived at Clandeboye Golf Club in Bangor on a sunny Wednesday morning to congratulate officials on securing the PGA EuroPro Northern Ireland Masters Golf Tournament, but it was not long before the two leaders were handed golf clubs for a putting challenge.

Club officials were clearly inspired by smiling pictures of the pair enjoying a kick-around with children in Co Tyrone last month.

Coronavirus – Thu Apr 22, 2021
Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill taking part in a football training session in April (Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA)

Greeting club members, the outgoing First Minister, who recently announced her resignation, quipped she may have time to take up the sport herself this summer.

There were more smiles and laughter as the leaders compared footwear, as the latter admitted she had had to make a last-minute dash to the shops for a pair of flats to walk on the course.

PGA Europro Tour Event – Bangor
Shoes worn by Arlene Foster at the golf event (Niall Carson/PA)

Mrs Foster fended off some gentle ribbing about the “appalling” football played in Tyrone as their footwear was eyed, responding: “You have to admit I was in heels, you have to take that into account.”

“And we did both score,” the deputy First Minister intervened, to which Mrs Foster laughed as she pointed out: “The goalkeeper was about five or six.”

PGA Europro Tour Event – Bangor
Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill watch Harry O’Hara, 12, at Clandeboye Golf Club near Bangor (Niall Carson/PA)

The pair met some of the club’s youngest up and coming stars, Harry, 12, and Molly O’Hara, 14, before being invited to have a putt themselves.

Harry gave the leaders a demonstration, showing them how he grips the club and lines up his shot, before deftly hitting the ball into the hole.

“No pressure”, joked Ms O’Neill as she stepped up first, and chuckled as the ball sailed past the hole.

PGA Europro Tour Event – Bangor
Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill at Clandeboye Golf Club (Niall Carson/PA)

Next was Mrs Foster, who very narrowly missed to a chorus of “oohs” from assembled golf club members who had gathered to watch.

“Very close,” assured Ms O’Neill, as the pair moved on to the formal stage of the event.

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