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Wednesday 21 February 2018

Niland's mum got highly strung in son’s epic match

Pat so proud of Irish ace at Wimbledon

Barry Duggan

THEY say mother knows best. And the mother of Irish tennis star Conor Niland admitted she got a bad feeling when his supporters at Wimbledon started singing yesterday afternoon.

The fans felt he was almost there in his first round match at the famous tennis tournament.

The 29-year-old almost made it through to the second round in a fascinating four-hour battle against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino -- but he eventually lost in the final set .

Speaking to the Irish Independent as she left Court 17 last night, Pat Niland said she feared the worst when the raucous Irish support started singing.

At that stage, the Limerick man had just gone 4-1 up in the final set, and he was just two games from victory -- and a probable second round match against multiple champion Roger Federer.

"The support was immense," Mrs Niland said.

"The court was hopping, all the green hats and jumpers. I did fear the worst when they started singing 'The Fields of Athenry'. I said, 'No, it's too early'.

"The game is never over until it's won and that proved true. If he had gone 5-1 up, I would have said, 'Now he nearly has it'.

"His serve deserted him a bit towards the end and he was trying to play the lines when perhaps he should have stayed safe," she said.

But she added that the Irish No 1 could be very proud at how far he progressed in this year's tournament after coming through a tough qualification system.

"He did very well to get this far and we are all so proud of him. He was hoping he would put in a good performance and he certainly did that. We're very proud of how he played today," Mrs Niland said.

Conor's parents Ray and Pat, along with his brothers Ross and Ray and sister Gina, were among the huge Irish support that surrounded Court 17 at the All England Lawn Tennis Club yesterday afternoon.

Every single vantage point was taken for the enthralling match and each point earned by the Limerick man earned a huge cheer.


He was the first Irishman to qualify for the event proper since 1984.

Last night, Ray and Pat Niland were off to spend the night with their son and enjoy some well-earned refreshments.

Mrs Niland described supporting her son at Wimbledon as a "fantastic" experience.

"We will never forget this -- it has been absolutely fantastic. Qualifying to get this far is a huge thing and it is something that he or we will never forget," she said.

"Sport can be very cruel and Conor knows that. It would have been wonderful for him to play Federer at Wimbledon, but he did fantastic and played some fantastic tennis.

"He has helped tennis in Ireland so much."

Irish Independent

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