Equestrian: Battling Irish seize landmark fifth spot
Ireland finished a sensational fifth in the Olympic Eventing team competition at Greenwich Park yesterday as Aoife Clark steered Master Crusoe into seventh place individually, Joseph Murphy finished 14th and Mark Kyle slotted into 21st place.
Germany took team and individual gold for the second consecutive Games, while the British claimed silver, ahead of New Zealand.
Even in her wildest dreams, team manager Ginny Elliott could hardly have hoped that the three remaining Irish team members could see off the mighty Australians and Americans to slot in behind the fourth-placed Swedes for this ground-breaking result.
Lying seventh as the day began, following the withdrawal of French pathfinder Donatien Schauly, and with the start list reduced to just nine nations after the attrition of Monday's cross-country course -- which claimed Ireland's Michael Ryan (Ballylynch Adventure) and Camilla Speirs (Portersize Just a Jiff) among its many victims -- Kyle and Coolio led the Irish challenge into the final show jumping phase.
Kyle and his 10-year-old gelding faulted at the bogey fifth fence, a rustic oxer, also picking up two time faults for a finishing score of 71.90.
But Mullingar's Murphy steered Electric Cruise to a classy clear inside the tight time-allowed, and when Clark put in an equally fine performance with Master Crusoe, the final score of 184.80 bounced Ireland up two places, as the Aussies, also reduced to a three-rider side, all faulted and the Americans really fell apart.
Kyle claimed the last available place into the afternoon's individual final, in which he added just five faults to his tally. But Murphy, lying 20th, began to soar up the order when his 11-year-old gelding showed just how a son of the great stallion Cruising should jump, and Clark did likewise, her foot-perfect round moving her up within reach of the medal contenders.