A beautiful combination as Katie and girls do us proud
Victorious boxing champ Katie Taylor will return to a hero's welcome today after securing a spectacular hat-trick in the World Boxing Championships at the weekend.
The Bray woman snapped up her third successive gold medal in the event in Barbados on Saturday, following wins in 2006 and 2008.
She beat China's Cheng Ding 18-5 in the 60kg final. Speaking yesterday, she said she never really doubted she could win as her preparations had gone well and she had had a good sleep the night before.
"During the last 30 seconds, I had to dig in deep," she said of the fight. "But I think I boxed really well in the final."
She said she was looking forward to a few weeks off before beginning preparations for the Olympic qualifiers.
"It's amazing really just to be mentioned in the same sentence as the likes of Sonia O'Sullivan and Derval O'Rourke and these other great athletes. I'm just delighted with the win."
Her father and coach Peter Taylor last night paid tribute to his daughter.
"I'm just so proud of her. She's been so consistent over the last three years and she hasn't changed at all, she's still the same person," he said. "It's unbelievable -- I can't put it into words."
Katie's win came during a busy weekend for Irish sportswomen, as the national ladies U-17 football team returned from the World Cup after making it to the last eight of the competition. Despite the heartbreak of losing 2-1 to Japan in the quarter-finals in Trinidad and Tobago, the squad was greeted with rapturous cheers from a sea of green at the arrivals entrance of Dublin Airport just after 9am yesterday.
There were huge cheers of "ole, ole, ole" as they walked through, with family and friends holding tricolours, jerseys and balloons, before the squad headed to the Clarion Hotel for a 'full Irish' with the Football Association of Ireland's John Delaney.
There was a neat sporting convergence this weekend, with Katie having previously played for the Ireland U-17's soccer team. And she didn't forget her roots during her wonderful journey to the world title, sending a signed singlet from the Irish boxing team to the young soccer stars.
In the crowd in Dublin Airport yesterday were squad member Jennifer Byrne's grandparents, Maureen and Terry, and her beaming dad Declan, who reminisced about how she outshone the boys in the local Athlone league as a youngster.
Denise O'Sullivan's sister Nicola got up in the early hours to beat the All-Ireland traffic, while team captain Dora Gorman's proud aunt, Mary Gorman, welcomed her home as her parents returned from Trinidad and Tobago on a different flight.
"I'm thrilled, although a little disappointed about the Japan game," said Dora, who said she was unsure about whether to turn professional yet.
However, coach Noel King said at least four of the girls had the potential to make a career of it.
"They're at the highest standard they've ever been and the future of women's soccer is getting bigger, so the opportunities are getting better. We wouldn't have minded another four days," he laughed.
"But they did great. It's lovely to see Katie do well and we were in communication with her all the time."
Katie is bound for a welcome just as rapturous as the girls' this evening, with her flight expected to arrive at 4pm.
The Taoiseach was among many who sent their warm congratulations yesterday.
"This is a fantastic achievement by one of Ireland's greatest athletes," said Brian Cowen.
"Katie's victory is her third world title and once again she has done Ireland proud."