Monday 26 September 2016

'He embarrassed us' - Irish coach slams Michael O'Reilly and reveals 'eight week' absence

Published 14/08/2016 | 17:05

Michael Conlan temporarily lifted the doom and gloom around Irish boxing with a dominant last 16 win in his bantamweight opener, leaving him just one fight away from at least a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics.

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However, despite the the victory, the travails of the last two weeks came back into focus in the aftermath following some interesting comments from Michael Conlan's father.

John Conlan also trains his son and in an interview on RTE Radio One after today's fight, he claimed Michael O'Reilly hadn't been seen by the other boxers in the weeks leading up to the Olympic training camp.

Read more: Michael Conlan reminds fans what Irish boxing is capable of with dominant last 16 victory

O'Reilly's absence is another indication of the seemingly haphazard preparation put into the Rio games in the absence of Billy Walsh.

Conlan suggested that O'Reilly had failed to train with the high performance unit in eight weeks, raising the question of how someone in receipt of a taxpayer-funded grant was allowed to be absent for such a long time in the run-up to an Olympic Games.

"This has been a very difficult two weeks for Irish boxing. We had that whole scandal that shocked us. It shocked us as a team because to be honest, Michael O'Reilly hadn't been with us for eight weeks. We met him in the airport," Conlan said of O'Reilly.

O'Reilly was in Azerbaijan for some of that period where he won the final pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in the middle weight division on June 25 to become the last Irish boxer to secure a seat on the plane to Rio.

Michael Conlan of Ireland with coaches from left, Zaur Antia, John Conlan and Eddie Bolger after defeating Aram Avagyan of Armenia following their Bantamweight preliminary round of 16 bout in the Riocentro Pavillion 6 Arena, Barra da Tijuca, during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Michael Conlan of Ireland with coaches from left, Zaur Antia, John Conlan and Eddie Bolger after defeating Aram Avagyan of Armenia following their Bantamweight preliminary round of 16 bout in the Riocentro Pavillion 6 Arena, Barra da Tijuca, during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Conlan continued: "It was a big, big shock to the team. We sat down, we talked it out and we focused in the reasons why we were here.

"There is no getting away from it. It has embarrassed us as a team. He didn't train with us, he embarrassed Irish boxing.

"He brought a terrible thing to Irish boxing and we're very strict on anti-doping. We bring them to seminars and we educate them constantly.

"There is zero tolerance with us.

"Inside our own little unit as a team, we tried to put a wall around it and we had good support from Dublin, from the IABA.

"The boys here have been outstanding.

"He (O'Reilly) is an unbelievable talent, one of the most talented boxers I've seen, but he is hard to handle."

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