Wednesday 13 November 2019

Town proud of John Joe -- the biggest thing since Joe Dolan

Caroline Crawford and Hayley Dixon

BOXING champ John Joe Nevin has been dubbed the biggest thing to come out of Mullingar since showband star Joe Dolan.

The 23-year-old shuffled and showboated one step closer to gold in the bantamweight division -- becoming the town's first boxer to bring home an Olympic medal.

Up to 1,500 people flocked to the main square in the town where they danced, sang and celebrated before John Joe even took to the ring.

The street celebrations of John Joe's latest victory were organised in part by Des Walsh of the Mullingar Traders' Association.

"He has done a lot for his town. This medal is the icing on the cake," said Mr Walsh.

Even bigger crowds are expected to pile into the town to watch tonight's final, meaning the big screen may have to move from the square to the local park.

Making the most of the magnificent weather, the crowds were in jubilant form yesterday as they watched his victory over on the big screen.

Also cheering on their cousin on the big screen were a number of his extended family.

"We always knew he would end up there one day. He is so determined. We're all really proud," said his cousin Mary Nevin.

"The whole town is so proud of him," said another cousin, Kathleen Nevin.

"He's the biggest and best thing to come out of Mullingar since Joe Dolan."

Meanwhile fans who packed out the ExCel Arena celebrated a win which guarantees John Joe at least a silver Olympic medal.

And they are confident he will beat Team GB's Luke Campbell in tonight's bantamweight final.

Despite Paddy Barnes losing his fight the fans said that they were still proud of his achievement of a bronze medal.

Michael Coyle (50) from Nevin's home town of Mullingar, said: "John Joe's performance was very good, best John Joe performance I have ever seen.

"I'm looking forward to him fighting Campbell and winning gold tomorrow. Barnes was very unlucky to lose it on the countback."

Niall Keogh (33) from Dublin, said: "John Joe looked like he was only in first gear and had a couple of gears to go."

Ross Gannon (28) from from Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, missed getting into the ExCel centre after the IOC cancelled his free tickets just hours before the fights.

He had got the freebies through his pal Colin Griffin, who will be competing in the 50km walk tomorrow.

But he wasn't the only one left stranded as Paddy Barnes's uncle was also left standing at the gate.

"I thought John Joe was fantastic, he was a very confident fighter," said Ross.

"He will have a very tough fight with Luke Campbell, but if he can fight like he did just then in the semis then he has it sewn up.

"Paddy Barnes losing was devastating, especially on the countback."

Derek Murtagh (28) and his friend Ciaran Cullen (29) had more luck getting tickets and the Dubliners saw Katie Taylor win on Thursday, watched yesterday's semi finals, and will be back today for the finals.

"It was brilliant, a great atmosphere in there," said Derek.

Students Rachel Earley (19) and Amanda Green (20) had flown in just to watch the semi finals -- but a delay on Ryanair meant they were stuck on the tarmac in Cork when Katie stormed to victory on Thursday.

Rachel said: "We are big boxing fans, but it was just by chance that we managed to get the tickets.

"Our flight was delayed and we were stuck in Cork on the plane. I was trying to ring everyone to find out how Katie was doing."

Irish Independent

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