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News Olympians Receive Hero's Welcome

Ireland's Olympic medal winners arrived home to Dublin and a raucous welcome on Tuesday evening.

Several hundred delighted fans cheered loudly when, with a Tricolor flying from the cockpit window, the plane carrying the Irish Beijing Olympic team was escorted by three fire and rescue tenders as it taxied to Pier C.Friends and family waited inside the terminal building and waved as the aircraft came to a stop.

Boxers Kenny Egan, Paddy Barnes and Darren Sutherland - who won a silver and two bronze medals between them - then came down the front steps of the aircraft to the applause of airport staff and were escorted into the VIP arrivals terminal by a lone piper.

Bad weather and a warning by the Dublin Airport Authority that there was limited space in the arrivals hall kept the numbers of well-wishers in the hundreds.

But thousands later lined suburban streets when Egan, the silver medal winner, was carried in an open top bus from the Liffey Valley shopping center to his home through nearby Neilstown and Clondalkin for a celebration party at Boomers pub which was attended by former Olympic marathon silver medalist John Treacy, now chief executive officer of the Irish Sports council.

Sports Minister Martin Cullen, who welcomed the team at the airport, said they had been privileged to take part in the world's greatest "festival of sport."

He paid special tribute to the boxers. "Pride of place must go to our boxing team who led the way. Only China and Cuba won more boxing medals.

"All five Irish boxers won at least one fight and incredibly each only lost to the eventual gold medal winner. Kenny Egan, Darren Sutherland and Paddy Barnes join a very select group who have won Olympic medals for Ireland."

The minister also paid tribute to the fans who traveled to China for the games. "As you would expect they were great ambassadors for Ireland. To see them turning up so far from home in their hundreds to support our team had to be a great incentive to the athletes."

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