TONY JACKLIN may have had the Concorde but that icon of aviation had nothing on Paul McGinley. By all accounts, he was flying in a different stratosphere. “And I’m not saying that because Paul is Irish,” said McGinley’s celebrated countryman, Eamonn Darcy, as he mulled over the merits of Europe’s Ryder Cup captains down the seasons.

Darcy, in Glasgow yesterday as the guest of honour at the PGA in Scotland’s Christmas shin-dig, will forever be associated with the great transatlantic tussle. Thirty years ago, having hurtled over the water on that aforementioned Concorde as part of Jacklin’s European team, Darcy played a significant role as the visitors claimed a first ever win on American soil in 1987.

His last green singles win over Ben Crenshaw, which was clinched with a knee-knocking putt that was as slippery as an eel on a skating rink, pushed Europe to the brink of an historic conquest.

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On Scottish turf in 2014, it was another Irishman making a major impact as McGinley, with the kind of meticulous attention to detail you’d get in a box set of Quincy DVDs, masterminded Europe’s romp over the USA at Gleneagles. They still talk about his time at the helm with gushing reverence.

For Darcy, no-one will get close to McGinley. “No, no, no,” he responded when asked if his compatriot’s captaincy can ever be topped. “Paul made it a full time job. It was his life. When Tony Jacklin did it, he still had other things on. Tony lifted the captaincy up another level. But he didn’t have the detail that McGinley had.

“Bringing Sir Alex Ferguson in (to do a motivational speech) was a masterstroke. He’d forgotten more about football than a lot of managers knew about it. When someone has done it at the top you listen.

“Paul was a very good player but he wasn’t a superstar. A lot of captains have been great players. They want to win but it’s not the end of the world if they don’t. Nick Faldo, for instance, was probably one of the worst captains.

“Also, it was so unfair that Sandy Lyle never got the captaincy. All the players respected him. He wasn’t above them. Nick Faldo thought he could win it on his own. But Paul got them all together. He played every shot, I know he did. It was dead right that he had just one go at the captaincy, though. I think Tony and Bernard Gallacher took too many years up by doing it a few times.”

McGinley’s Ryder Cup legacy is assured. So too is Darcy’s. “The years have flown by and they all still ask me about that putt in 1987,” said the 65-year-old. “But, you know, I don’t think about it that much myself.”

The passing of his great friend, Christy O’Connor Jnr, a couple of years ago was a devastating loss. “It broke my heart,” added Darcy. His outings on the Senior Tour are not the same without his old companion. “I’ll see if there is any fire left in the belly next year,” he said.