IRELAND'S latest major swimming medalist Barry Murphy has revealed that he almost retired from the sport just four months ago.
The 28-year-old Dubliner fulfilled a lifetime ambition on Saturday night at the European short course championships in Herning, Denmark when he won a bronze in the 50m breaststroke final.
Murphy squeezed into the final in eighth place but went to another level when he touched in 26.56 -- one hundredth of a second away from silver and one hundredth ahead of Johannes Skagius. Gold went to Slovenia's Damir Dugonjic in 26.21, while Frenchman Giacomo Perez Dortona won silver.
"My first feeling when I saw that I was third was sheer relief, I had finally done it -- finally I had a major medal," said Murphy. "At the end of the summer I had actually sat down with my parents and my coach Paul Donovan and said that I thought I had run my course but Paul convinced me to see out 2013 and focus on the European short course champs. Thank goodness he did."
Murphy finished his campaign in the 50m butterfly, clocking 24.26 which was well off his Irish record.
Brendan Hyland and Andrew Meegan finished off their championships with a 1:51.41 and 1:55.36 respectively in the 200m freestyle and Bethany Carson was second in her 200m freestyle heat with a time of 1:59.84.
All three Irish riders featured prominently at the prestigious 5-Star fixture over the weekend in Geneva, where Dermott Lennon was in the line-up twice.
On Thursday, the Banbridge man steered the 13-year-old Hallmark Elite into third in the Two-Phase class won by Belgium's Gregory Wathelet and Etoile M. And on Friday, he finished third again, this time with the brilliant mare Loughview Lou-Lou in the Credit Suisse Grand Prix won by America's Kent Farrington and Willow.
Mayo's Cameron Hanley finished sixth in this competition with Antello Z, while on Saturday, 18-year-old Bertram Allen from Wexford was third in the Accumulator with the nine-year-old mare Zensation.
Alan Kilkenny overcame the atrocious weather conditions to score his fourth win of the season in GSMC's O'Gorman Cup Sporting Trial at Brittas, Co Dublin. Early leader Fergal Gregory was well clear at the end of the first lap but dropped to runner-up position on the second time through the six sections.
These two were a long way in front of the rest of the field, with Brendan Gregory coming out best in a three-way battle for third place, 15 marks behind his brother.