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Thursday 19 September 2019

Champion boxer Kellie Harrington planning homecoming celebrations - complete with burgers and doughnuts

Athletes Kellie Harrington, Grainne Walsh, Michael Nevin, Kurt Walker, Regan Buckley, Michaela Walsh, Sam Magee and Chloe Magee celebrate their Team Ireland homecoming from the European Games in Minsk at Dublin Airport. Pic Steve Humphreys
Athletes Kellie Harrington, Grainne Walsh, Michael Nevin, Kurt Walker, Regan Buckley, Michaela Walsh, Sam Magee and Chloe Magee celebrate their Team Ireland homecoming from the European Games in Minsk at Dublin Airport. Pic Steve Humphreys
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

World champion boxer Kellie Harrington plans to celebrate her latest medal win with a burger and pizza and a box of doughnuts, she revealed.

There were joyous scenes at Dublin Airport this lunchtime as Team Ireland were given a heroes' welcome as they returned home with a haul of seven medals from the European Games.

Despite being up since 2am as they traveled home from Minsk, the weary athletes got a boost when they were welcomed with cheers from their families and friends.

Dubliner Harrington won silver in the women's lightweight competition, with a thumb injury dashing her hopes of competing in the final and the chance of claiming gold.

But she was upbeat as she told Independent.ie: "I've come home with a silver medal from the European Games which is a massive achievement so I'm really happy with it. I'm not going to let what happened in the final with my injury ruin the success of my silver."

Asked how she will be celebrating her medal win, she laughed: "I'm going to have a burger or a pizza and I've seen my mam has a box of doughnuts for me."

Sports Minister Shane Ross welcomed the athletes home and said they were an inspiration to children all over the country who dream of representing Ireland one day.

The gaffe-prone minister, who has a history of mixing up sports stars' names, accidentally referred to Kellie as Katie, the country's other boxing heroine.

Mr Ross remarked that; "I insist on thinking of (her) as a gold medal winner", adding: "Katie will come back as strong as ever."

However, Kellie took it in her stride and laughed it off.

Team Ireland secured an impressive medal haul - six in boxing, including one gold, two silver and four bronze; and bronze in badminton.

Gold medal winner Kurt Walker from Lisburn, Co Antrim, was congratulated by his nine-month-old nephew Rio as well as members of his local boxing club.

Meanwhile brother and sister duo, Chloe and Sam Magee, were delighted with their bronze from the badminton mixed doubles.

Their parents, Audrey and Samuel, and Sam's girlfriend Alice McConnell, left their home in Raphoe, Co Donegal, in the early morning to travel down to Dublin.

"It was very nerve-wracking watching it on TV," admitted Alice. "It was a tight game but it was great to see them come out on top. We're all delighted for them."

But there will be no party to celebrate the win. "They're straight back into training because they're off to Russia and Asia for a month," explained Audrey.

The siblings inherited their dad's sporting gene and he was their first coach.

"When they were four or five I was coaching them, but I wasn't good enough," said Samuel modestly.

"They've always been very sporty, since they could hold a racket," said Audrey.

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