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full irish? Former captain ponders whether Rory McIlroy will be paired with Shane Lowry at the Ryder Cup

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Saitama , Japan - 31 July 2021; Shane Lowry, left, and Rory McIlroy of Ireland walk away from the first tee box after teeing off during round 3 of the men's individual stroke play at the Kasumigaseki Country Club during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Saitama , Japan - 31 July 2021; Shane Lowry, left, and Rory McIlroy of Ireland walk away from the first tee box after teeing off during round 3 of the men's individual stroke play at the Kasumigaseki Country Club during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Saitama , Japan - 31 July 2021; Shane Lowry, left, and Rory McIlroy of Ireland walk away from the first tee box after teeing off during round 3 of the men's individual stroke play at the Kasumigaseki Country Club during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

FORMER Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley believes Pádraig Harrington could name an all-Irish dream team of Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry as Europe look to retain the trophy on American soil.

Harrington, who will captain Europe at Whistling Straights next week, named Lowry as one of his wild-card picks for the showdown that will get underway next Friday.

Now Europe's 2014 Ryder Cup winning skipper is suggesting a McIlroy/Lowry pairing could be on show on the opening day of action.

"Rory loves being the centre of attention and you put him out there with a big-name partner," said Sky Sports golf expert McGinley.

"McIlroy is not a guy you hide in your team. He is one of the guys you want to see leading and he could play with Shane Lowry.

"I wouldn't generally put Rory with a rookie as I feel he thrives alongside another big name, which is why I paired him with Sergio Garcia in 2014.

"Yet I don't see Shane as a rookie, even though this will be his first Ryder Cup.

"He is a Major champion, a top player, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Rory playing with Shane."

McIlroy has not won a Major championship since 2014 and is heading into the Ryder Cup on the back of a year lacking tournament wins, but McGinley (above) is convinced he will rise to the challenge.

"We are not seeing the dominance we saw from Rory a few years back, but there is a reason for that," continued McGinley.

"The quality of players we have at the top of the game has moved up a few notches, and there is a lot more of them now.

"They have all moved up to play the kind of game that he used to be the only one playing, which is long and straight off the tee.

"But we all know that Rory loves the Ryder Cup and he has had a lot of dialogue with Pádraig over the last few months - and the word is he is ready to step up his game to take on the Americans.

"Rory is a leader in this Ryder Cup team, because he is a very good player and he is also very popular with the rest of his team-mates.

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"He's an easy personality to have around.

"And I remember as a young member of the Ryder Cup team myself. You look around the room and look at Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Ozalabal - and it's not just what they say in the team environment, it is their body language.

"These guys have been there and seen it all in golf, and having them on your team gives you comfort.

"The senior guys in any Ryder Cup team are so important and Rory is very much part of that."

McGinley also suggested Lowry was an 'easy pick' for captain Harrington, as he backed the 2019 Open champion to justify his selection.

"The way Shane has performed in the last three months swayed it for him," he added.

"He has been one of the leading European players on the American tour - and he was worthy of a pick on the back of that.

"He should also be perfectly suited to the course we will be playing this Ryder Cup on, so it wasn't a difficult selection, in my opinion.

"I know Pádraig took a long time before he made these final picks, but I don't think Shane was the reason for the delay."

*Watch all three tournament days of the Ryder Cup live, archive footage and more on Sky Sports' dedicated Ryder Cup channel

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