Friday 30 September 2016

'Anyone who has their eye on my sons has to come through me first' - mother of Ireland's Olympic rowing heroes

Published 16/08/2016 | 02:30

Olympic rowing medallists Gary and Paul O'Donovan's mother Trish arrives home from Rio, and was met by their grandmother Mary Doab in Ballincollig Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney / Provision
Olympic rowing medallists Gary and Paul O'Donovan's mother Trish arrives home from Rio, and was met by their grandmother Mary Doab in Ballincollig Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney / Provision

The mother of Ireland's Olympic rowing heroes has warned her sons' new legion of female admirers they will "have to go through me first".

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But Trish O'Donovan insisted, as she arrived in Cork from Rio, that Gary (23) and Paul (22) O'Donovan will "keep their feet firmly on the ground" despite the global fame that has greeted their historic silver medal-winning performance in Brazil.

The brothers pictured competing in a rowing event in their teens Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney / Provision
The brothers pictured competing in a rowing event in their teens Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney / Provision

Paul unwisely admitted in one interview that he has been inundated with contacts from young Irish women - including invitations to dances.

However, their mother has had stern words for any potential suitors for her boys.

"They will have to go through me first," she warned.

"I will have to vet them all first. But they will all have to be athletes. No one else would understand them," she laughed.

Read more: Town promises a great party to honour its heroic brothers

Trish also revealed she first guessed her sons were destined for international success in 2008 and started a credit union saving account that year just so she could get to the 2016 Rio Games.

Another photo of the brothers at a competition in their teens Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney / Provision
Another photo of the brothers at a competition in their teens Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney / Provision

She used saving stamps from Skibbereen Credit Union to save the funds to watch her sons make Irish rowing history in Brazil.

"I used the stamps so I couldn't spend the money," she joked.

"I'm glad I didn't spend it now because watching Gary and Paul in Rio was a dream come true. I was the proudest woman on the planet that day.

"They are both mad as hatters - when they were young they wouldn't even put shoes on.

The brothers with their Olympic silver medals Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
The brothers with their Olympic silver medals Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"I had an awful job getting them to wear shoes to school. They used to run around barefoot. But rowing calmed them down. They love their sport and are really dedicated to it. So there is fear of them."

Trish arrived in Cork from Rio yesterday exhausted but elated with her fiancée, Mick McCabe, and her sons' godmother, Kathleen Kiely-Wingate, and admitted she will start saving now for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Read more: Olympic heroes lift nation's spirits

"In 2008 they made the Irish team as juniors and they went to the Home Internationals in Cardiff," she said.

"They stormed it in Cardiff and got the gold. That was when I started saving. I said they are going to the Olympics - they are not going to stop."

"Every week I went up to (Skibbereen) credit union and put in a few saving stamps.

"I don't care now if I have to strap myself onto the wing of the plane for Tokyo, I'm going there."

Rest

Trish said she now believes Gary and Paul won't rest until they lift Olympic gold in Tokyo.

"They wanted it (gold). They nearly had it (in Rio). But, what harm?

I do think because the way the race was put back (because of weather) it cost them.

"If they had a day of rest before the final it would have been theirs.

Read more: Brothers delay homecoming - so they can bag another win

"They were gunning for it - they were ready for it. They want the gold and they know they have the making of it (for Tokyo).

"It all hasn't really sunk in yet," she added.

"People were sending me pictures of the Irish newspapers.

"I was getting snippets from my mother about what was going on back home.

"When we get home (to Lisheen and Skibbereen) it will be magic."

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