'Baby' brings home another boxing medal from Games
MICHAEL Conlan became Ireland's latest Olympic medal winner last night after losing his semi-final to claim bronze.
The 20-year-old 'baby' from Belfast will be disappointed not to have emulated John Joe Nevin and Katie Taylor with a march to the final, but he will be thrilled at adding to the country's historic medal tally.
In the end he lost to Cuba's Robeisy Ramirez Carranza over a gripping three-round fight.
At the Beehive Pub on the Falls Road in west Belfast, close to where Conlan grew up and near his St John Bosco Boxing Club, the local community watched their favourite son scoop a coveted Olympic medal.
The youngster gave it his all in the thrilling clash at the ExCel Arena in London but Robeisy simply had too much.
That won't change the way Conlan is viewed in Belfast though, where he has truly established legendary status.
Fergal McVeigh, assistant manager at the Beehive -- where some 400 people squeezed in to cheer him on -- said the party was going to go all night, as if he had bagged the gold.
"Everyone is really proud of him. He has had a good tournament and he has done the city proud," he said.
"Everyone knew he was up against a top Cuban and the performance over the three rounds was great. He wasn't defensive; he fought very openly and he wasn't afraid to be hit.
"There is going to be a hero's welcome for him. Everyone will look forward to him bringing the medal into the Beehive."
Over in London, Conlan's family -- his parents John and Theresa and brothers Brendan, Jamie and Sean -- gathered to watch his achievement.
Gerard McCafferty, a coach at Conlan's boxing club, said there was disappointment after the fight but insisted he could go on to win gold in Rio in four years' time.
"We are deflated but at the same time this is a kid, 20 years of age, from a wee small club in Belfast with no shower or running water and to come home with a medal is fantastic," he said. "There is a lot of unemployment in this area, one of the highest levels in Europe and he has lifted the expectations of the kids here. They want to be Michael Conlan."