Published: Thursday, 12th July, 2012 11:30am
ONE of the greatest shocks of modern tennis history was celebrated with gusto in Baylough, Athlone last weekend.
As Sheffield's Jonny Marray and doubles partner Frederik Nielsen (of Denmark) defeated the fifth seeds, Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau, in last Saturday's Wimbledon 2012 Men's Doubles decider, the local McNally family, who run the well-known Stella Maris Nursing Home in Baylough, were coming to terms with their close relative, Marray, hitting the big-time in sensational fashion.
Marray, 31, is first cousins with the McNally siblings Aine, Clare, Colm and Kieran, whose mother, Anne (nee King) is Marray's aunt (her sister Kathleen being Marray's mother), and they're originally from Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan.
Indeed, the new-found prince of Wimbledon has spent many weeks in Athlone, visiting the McNally family, and was this week described by his cousin, Clare, as "such a down-to-earth and lovely man".
Speaking after Jonny's phenomenal success, which earned him the hefty sum of €160,000 (more than half his previous total career earnings), Clare said: "We followed Jonny's progress throughout Wimbledon, and have followed his career closely, and it's just brilliant to see such a down-to-earth and lovely man rewarded in such a way. Jonny's, like most other sportspeople, has had many ups and downs, and some very bad injuries, but to win Wimbledon is just amazing. We are all so proud oh him and my Mam is on a constant high after it! It's a remarkable achievement."
Clare said that Jonny and his family spent many childhood holidays in Athlone, and that when she (Clare) studied in Liverpool for six years, she would regularly visit the Marrays in Sheffield.
Clare's sister, Aine, went to university in Sheffield and lived with Jonny's sister, Siobhan, for a couple of years.
The McNally's threw a Wimbledon-themed party at their home last Saturday to mark the occasion of the Doubles' final, but also had to keep family members Colm and Kieran in the loop about Jonny's progress, as both were away from home.
"It was a very tense occasion, but thankfully Jonny and his doubles' partner came through... they were brilliant," said Clare, whose uncle, John Guest (from England), actually caught the match-ball when Jonny struck it into the 10,000-strong Wimbledon crowd after the contest.
"The Marrays are such a lovely family and it's always a pleasure to visit them," added Clare, who is Director of Nursing at Stella Maris Nursing Home.
"I loved to visit them when I was in college in Liverpool, it was such a treat. For four years I've been on holidays with Kathleen, my mum, my Aunt Maura (another sister), and my cousin Siobhan (Jonny's sister), and we always went to France each year. However, with work commitments we didn't manage it for the past two years, but hopefully we'll be able to do something together again. One of my cousins is also working on a family get-together after Jonny's great win, so we're looking forward to meeting up with him and congratulating him properly as soon as possible," the Athlone native added.
Stella Maris Nursing Home is a family owned, family operated nursing home located in Lakeview, Baylough, Athlone. Established in 1987, Stella Maris offer residents unsurpassed accommodation in a safe, comfortable and professional environment. With daily activities, superb local amenities, modern facilities, and fully trained staff, they ensure comfort and care always.