Irish News

Friday 1 August 2014

John Joe makes emotional trip to grave to pray for tragic cousin

Eoghan MacConnell

Published 15/08/2012|05:00

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Silver medallist John Joe Nevin at the grave of his cousin David Nevin, who died of a heart attack in February

A DAY after the fanfare and celebrations, Olympic silver medallist John Joe Nevin had a more emotional homecoming yesterday with a visit to the graveside of his grandparents and cousin.

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Speaking at the graveside of his grandparents John Joe and Mary at Ballyglass Cemetery in Mullingar, John Joe admitted it was more emotional than his official homecoming.

"This one is more emotional is because no matter where I go, I will always come back to this grave of my grandparents. I believe they look down on me and help me along the way," he explained.

John Joe spends up to an hour praying at his grandparents' graveside prior to fights.

"I've spent hours sitting here like this on this grave with my grandparents. I love my grandparents and I feel at home when I'm here, it's just like I'm in my own world here with them.

"I said in my national seniors this year, if I won my national seniors I would leave my medal out here for a full week," he recalled.

"I think I left it out here for about a month and then I gave it to David. . . David passed away in February and I gave it down with David in his coffin."

A short distance away lies the grave of John Joe's cousin, sparring partner and close friend 25-year-old David Nevin. The talented boxer passed away following a heart attack last February. He is survived by his young wife, Christine.

"It's very sad to have lost them and I just like to be out here today and to bring the medal to my grandparents, John Joe and Mary, and David. It means a lot to me to have had such people in my life," the medal-winner said.

David, who won four national titles and two All-Irelands, was supposed to attend the Olympic games with John Joe. His death shook John Joe to the core -- but he said it also inspired him to compete.

Following his Olympic bouts, John Joe pointed to heaven in memory of his late cousin.

"David said I'd go to the top and I'd bring back a medal and I brought back a silver medal," he said.

John Joe plans to take the next three weeks off. However, he has a number of engagements, including the Olympians' homecoming reception in Dublin today, an impending civic reception in Mullingar, and a visit to sick children at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar tomorrow morning.

The young boxer remains undecided about his future despite three serious offers to turn professional.

He does not currently have a sponsor, but has refused to rule out another shot at the Olympics.

"If a sponsorship deal comes up, we could go back for that gold medal," he said.

"I have to look after my future as well. It's wherever the money is," he added.

John Joe was joined by family members at the gravesides yesterday. The peace he once enjoyed at the gravesides of his relations may be a thing of the past, as John Joe discovered yesterday when he was approached by two admiring fans.

"You were wonderful, absolutely marvellous," Peggy Scally told John Joe.

She was joined by Moira Kilmurray, who was equally complimentary and insisted on a hug.

John Joe's family and friends were due to watch the fights again at a private celebration in the Covert Bar and Restaurant on the outskirts of Mullingar last night.

Irish Independent

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