Boxing golden boys on top of world as they rejoin families
IT was quite simply the best birthday present a boxer could hope for, writes Louise Hogan.
With a haul of gold and silver dangling around their necks, they arrived back to a melodious medley of fluttering flags, shouting children, banners, club colours and ecstatic kin.
"I couldn't ask for better," said John Joe Nevin after marking his 24th birthday in flying style as the bantamweight boxed his way to victory at the 40th European Championships in Minsk, Belarus.
"To get home with the family is the main thing," he said, surrounded by his mother Winnie, father Martin, brothers, sisters and everyone who travelled from Mullingar, Co Westmeath, on a minibus.
Nearby, his fellow gold medallist, Donegal man Jason Quigley (22), bruises blossoming around his eyes, quipped that he felt "success breeds success" as he had battled to keep up with the Olympic medallists on his team.
Light flyweight Paddy Barnes and flyweight Michael Conlan brought home silver.
Memorable medal hauls may become a thing of the past: Sport, Page 29