Barnes quells anthem controversy
Published 02/08/2014 | 19:00
Paddy Barnes shrugged off an anthem controversy after claiming Commonwealth Games boxing gold with victory over India's Devendro Laishram at the Hydro in Glasgow.
Barnes was caught on television cameras mouthing "that's not my anthem" to his vanquished opponent as the opening strains of 'Danny Boy' blared out in the 20,000-capacity arena.
But Barnes quickly took to Twitter to insist his comment had no political connotations as he celebrated retaining the light-flyweight title he first won in Delhi in 2010.
Barnes tweeted: "So I said that's not my anthem, so who cares, it's not NI hasn't got one educate yourselves, football is GSTQ [God Save The Queen] so make your minds up!"
He added: "I'm a sportsman, I couldn't care about anything else, I'm Irish, doesn't matter if I'm Catholic of Protestant.
" I won that medal for everyone that supports me, Catholics and Protestants alike, I don't care what your religion is! Some clowns out there!"
Barnes produced a controlled performance to defeat the classy Laishram and prove himself a class apart from his opponents in the light-flyweight category.
Barnes said: "That was the hardest fight of my life. I didn't really box my best because he was non-stop. But I was too strong for him.
"I remember fighting in China in front of 13,000 Chinese guys who wanted the head punched off me, but I'll tell you what that was unbelievable out there."
Barnes' team-mate Michael Conlan made it two gold medals for Northern Ireland when he outpointed England's Qais Ashfaq in an entertaining bantamweight brawl.
Ashfaq made a strong start and won the first round on two of the three judges' cards but Conlan used his experience and well-picked shots to claw back into the bout.
Conlan had edged through to the final on a technical decision after his fight against Welshman Sean McGoldrick was stopped in the second round due to cuts.
But the inch-long gash just above Conlan's left eye did not reopen despite the come-forward nature of the contest, and the Northern Irishman made sure of his place on top of the podium.
Conlan admitted he was riddled with self-doubt weeks before the Games because of fitness concerns.
"I have only trained for this competition for two weeks," he said. "I was out injured and only had seven spars in total.
"To come and do a job like this is phenomenal. To pick up two injuries in the competition as well and still win, I feel very proud of myself.
"Honestly, I can't believe what I came through. Two weeks before the competition, I was doubting myself. I was sparring an Australian kid and I should have been destroying him but it was close. I felt very nervous, but as soon as I got in the village and settled, I knew no-one was beating me."
Conlan added: "I thought I won the first round but I heard I lost it so I knew I had to change my tactics and push him back a bit more. It worked for me in the end. He's a talented boxer but I knew I had the heart and drive to beat him."
Joe Fitzpatrick had to settle for a silver medal after being clearly outpointed by busy Scot Charlie Flynn in the lightweight final.