Mixed emotions for fans in Irish Olympic House

Mixed emotions for fans in Irish Olympic House

By Cóilín Duffy, At Kings Cross, London

There were mixed emotions for the Irish supporters in the Official Irish Olympic House in Kings Cross, London today after watching John Joe Nevin book a final place, but Paddy Barnes lose out on a final spot following a countback.

As was the case right throughout the games, and in particular since the action entered the final week last Monday, Irish fans were again in full voice throughout London and beyond.

From early morning the streets of the UK capital were thronged with Irish supporters, many of whom were heading to the EXCEL arena, with or without tickets.

For those not lucky enough to secure entry the next best place in London to watch the fight was the Irish Olympic House at Kings Cross.

For many this has been a home from home since the Olympics began, and indeed Katie Taylor popped in last night following her Gold medal triumph.

Again a great atmosphere prevailed from early morning, with traditional music setting the tone in the lead-up to Paddy Barnes fight at 1.30.

Unfortunately for the Belfast boxer, defeat was his lot but only after a count-back after he was tied with his opponent at 15-apiece.

However, Irish disappointment was short-lived with Westmeath boxer Nevin securing a final berth against Team GB's Luke Campbell tomorrow night.

"I thought John Joe's performance was absolutely brilliant,"

Paul Phelan from Dublin said.

"Paddy Barnes it was a shame he didn't win, but we were behind him all the way."

Paul was at the ExCeL arena for both Katie Taylor's quarter-final and semi-final fights, and says that the atmosphere has been electric.

"It has been super," he said.

"We were in the ExCeL arena for a number of fights and the Irish fans were absolutely tremendous.

"I have to say the British fans got behind the Irish fans as well. You couldn't hear anything it was so loud. It was absolutely brilliant.

"People really reacted well to our athletes. Everywhere we go in London people keep stopping to talk to us because we are Irish."

Paul travelled with his wife Niamh, and their children Tom, Sadhbh, Sean and Ciara.

"With the Olympics being so close to home it was a great chance for our kids to see it and they really loved it over here for the week."

On Nevin's final chances, Paul says he's in with a great shot at Gold.

"We have one Gold medal and John Joe is in there - silver or Gold whatever he gets will be good enough.

"Hopefully, it will be a second Gold and that would be just super!"

Limerick man Seoirse Laffan got a major treat for his 40th birthday today - a trip to the Olympics.

He's also been lapping up the atmosphere in London.

"It's great, I am so proud to be here and I feel privledged really," he said.

"It has been a huge party and what I would say most about the whole event is the whole warmth of London over the last few days.

"I've been lucky enough to see Katie Taylor and we'll see John Joe tomorrow night - it has been an unbelievable experience.

"It's my 40th birthday and I can't think of a better place to be on my birthday than at the Olympics.

"I'm going to the Olympic Stadium tonight to see the Track and Field finals. The 4 * 400m relay is my favourite track and field event. Again I feel very lucky to be able to attend."

Reflecting on today's fights Laffan says Barnes was unfortunate not to make the decider.

"Paddy was unlucky, but that's sport. There is a very thin line and it is cruel.

"He just lost out today, but he has his Olympic medal in his back-pocket today. His opponent just got the breaks.

"On John Joe's display, he is pure class and I would be really hopefully that he will win Gold."

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