Sunday 4 December 2016

'Olé' welcome for Team Ireland as they touch down in Dublin

Alan O'Keeffe

Published 25/08/2016 | 02:30

Boxer Paddy Barnes with Joel Thomas (5), from Baldoyle, Co Dublin, at Dublin Airport Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Boxer Paddy Barnes with Joel Thomas (5), from Baldoyle, Co Dublin, at Dublin Airport Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Ireland's Olympians came home to a warm welcome at Dublin Airport, with the sound of 'Olé, olé, olé' echoing in the arrivals area.

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Families and fans cheered loudly at the first glimpse of the tracksuited Team Ireland athletes in Terminal One.

Waving flags and posters, the athletes' loved ones were quick to embrace them on their return from Rio.

But before the team could go through a cordon to meet the public and the media, Olympic Council of Ireland stand-in president William O'Brien shook hands with the athletes before making a hasty exit.

Acting OCI president Willie O'Brien Photo: Arthur Carron
Acting OCI president Willie O'Brien Photo: Arthur Carron

Despite being asked by reporters to comment on the Olympic tickets controversy, Mr O'Brien refused to answer questions. He soon ascended an escalator and was gone in a few moments.

John Treacy, chief executive of the Irish Sports Council, said the tickets controversy was being handled by the Government inquiry and it had nothing whatsoever to do with celebrating the return of the Irish Olympic team.

Golfer Leona Maguire with her sister Lisa and parents Breda and Declan Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile
Golfer Leona Maguire with her sister Lisa and parents Breda and Declan Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile

"They deserve this great welcome. For the first time, 14 Irish athletes have finished in the top 10 in their events - and 28 of them were in the top 20 in their events. A performance of such depth by an Irish Olympic team has never been equalled. It was really outstanding," he said.

Among the first to greet the athletes was silver medallist Annalise Murphy, who arrived in Ireland earlier this week.

Thomas Barr, just pipped for a medal in the 400m hurdles final, was hugged by his family. His mother Martina (51) said: "It was absolutely mind-blowing watching him in the race, an out-of-body experience."

The family have covered their home in banners and tricolours, she said. His sister Jessie (27) said: "It was amazing. We were all crying for two days solid."

Boxer Michael Conlan talks to the media Photo: Arthur Carron
Boxer Michael Conlan talks to the media Photo: Arthur Carron

Thomas said he had one more race to run before he will completely relax. Two of his coaches at the University of Limerick, Professor of Bio-Mechanics Drew Harrison and his wife, Hayley, said he will be at his peak for the Tokyo Olympics. Boxer Stephen Donnelly got a warm welcome from his parents Brian and Sharon, who travelled from Ballymena with his girlfriend Sarah Louise McClelland.

"We're very proud of Stephen. He's the only Irish fighter who won two of his fights. He's brilliant and he has the world at his toes - he's had offers to go professional," said Brian.

Boxer Michael Conlan, cradling baby daughter Lusine, said he's "not bothered" by potential IABA disciplines for criticising boxing judges.

"They can do what they want and say what they want, but how can they discipline me after more or less admitting what they done was wrong," he said.

Hurdler Thomas Barr is greeted by his family in Dublin Airport yesterday Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile
Hurdler Thomas Barr is greeted by his family in Dublin Airport yesterday Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile

Hockey player Peter Carruth, welcomed by sisters Alison and Claire from Belfast, was looking forward to "a few wee beverages."

Boxer Stephen Donnelly and girlfriend Sarah Louise McClelland Photo: Arthur Carron
Boxer Stephen Donnelly and girlfriend Sarah Louise McClelland Photo: Arthur Carron

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