Rory McIlroy has announced he will represent Ireland at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro

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Rory McIlroy has announced he will represent Ireland at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

He announced his decision to favour Ireland over Great Britain during a press conference at the European Tour’s Irish Open.

The Ulsterman expressed his pride at representing Ireland after speculation he’d compete as part of Team GB.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot,” said McIlroy.

“I don’t know if it’s because the World Cup is in Brazil and I was thinking a couple of years down the line.

“I was thinking about all the times I have played for Ireland as a boy and everything.

“For me, it’s the right decision to play for Ireland.”

McIlroy was eligible to play for either Ireland or Great Britain as Northern Ireland doesn’t field its own team.

McIlroy’s announcement – which was applauded by Irish media during the press conference – ends a period of constant speculation.

He had previously considered not taking part in the 2016 Olympic at all to avoid upsetting people.

His compatriot Graeme McDowell will also represent Ireland in the tournament.