John Joe Nevin landed Ireland’s final medal of the London Olympics – and added a silver lining to the country’s best games in years.
The Mullingar hero was beaten by just three points by Britain’s Luke Campbell in the bantamweight final at the ExCeL Arena.
He joined gold medallist Katie Taylor and bronze medal winners Cian O’Connor, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan on the rostrum.
A disappointed Nevin said: “I really wanted to join Katie Taylor and Michael Carruth as a gold medal winner but it wasn’t to be.
“I’d have taken silver a month ago, I’d have even taken bronze, but having gotten this far, I really, really wanted to go all the way.
“I’m heart-broken. I feel like a failure. Luke is a tremendous boxer. I didn’t perform to my best today but there’s still nothing between us.”
Katie Taylor was in the crowd as Nevin ensured Ireland’s best medal collection since 1956.
She applauded Nevin after the fight before tributes to the proud member of the Travelling community poured in.
Irish president Michael D Higgins said: “I want to offer sincere congratulations to John Joe Nevin on an outstanding silver medal-winning performance at the London Olympics.
“John Joe has touched all of us this week with his positive attitude, remarkable skill and great courage in the ring.”
Nevin could also follow Taylor to fame and fortune with British PR guru Max Clifford adamant that the boxer should cash in on his medal success.
Clifford told the Irish Sun: “The boy has everything the sponsors want, he has the whole lot in his locker - what a personality!
“It’s all up to him how he wants to approach it but if he has the right team around him, it could really take off for John Joe Nevin.”
Earlier in the day Irish walker Rob Heffernan from Cork suffered heartache as he finished fourth in the men’s 50km walk.
He beat his personal best by seven minutes but just came up short in the bid for a medal.
Heffernan said: “I dreamt of a medal but I was inside the old Olympics record and did everything I could. I couldn’t do anymore.
“It’s disappointing that I didn’t win a medal but when I look back at it I’ll be happy with the championships.
“I’ve made massive improvements. I came here to win a medal, to come close in both events is very encouraging. Still in good nick.”