Fresh Irish heartache as two more boxers lose in Rio
Rio de Janeiro (AFP)
Two more Irish boxers suffered defeat on Saturday at the Rio Olympics to leave just one Irishman left standing, although they did at least salvage a smidgen of pride.
Much was expected of Ireland in the boxing in Brazil, but one of its fighters, Michael O'Reilly, was told on the eve of the Games that he had failed a dope test and their tournament has mostly gone downhill from there.
The latest to fall to defeat were the flyweight Brendan Irvine and welterweight Steven Donnelly, the latter only narrowly to the world champion in the quarter-finals.
The 20-year-old Irvine admitted he was well beaten by the better boxer in the Uzbek Shakhobidin Zoirov and was treating it as a good learning curve, having recently moved up a weight class.
"I've only just moved up, not even a year yet. Just to get out here is a great experience for me. It is healthier for me at 52 kilos. It takes time to (get used to) the weight. I think in four years' time I will be perfect for it," he said.
Donnelly went out on a split-points decision to Morocco's Mohammed Rabii, but felt he had given it his best shot.
"I can walk away from these Games proud. Nobody expected me to get this far, only myself, my club coaches, these lads here and the Irish coaches," he said.
"This is the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games, against the current world number one and world champion. My whole nation is proud of me. I've done great, and I'll continue to do great in this sport."
Bantamweight Michael Conlan is the sole Irish men's boxer left in the competition, meaning he and reigning women's Olympic lightweight champion Katie Taylor are now carrying Irish hopes in the ring.
© 2016 AFP