Egan's Proud Silver Lining
IN the end we did what we always do in such circumstances -- we sought out the sanctuary of the usual to celebrate the very unusual.
Paddy O'Shea's is, as you've probably guessed, an Irish bar. Not any old Irish bar but the newest -- and the best -- Irish bar in Beijing, capital city of the Olympic Games for the past three weeks.
It's a fine drinking house, as one of my good friends calls the pub. Owner Glenn Phelan runs a good shop, the local brew is more than pleasant and the craic was good the few times we managed to get away from the laptop for the duration of what was my first Olympics.
Sunday night we finished work early -- at 10 p.m. to be precise, which was a lot earlier than the norm in a land where the clock is seven hours ahead of those in charge of Dublin deadlines, and 12 for New York.
The early finish came at the end of a long day, a disappointing day, but one that still needed to be celebrated.
Hours earlier we had gathered from early morning in the Worker's Gymnasium, a 20,000 indoor arena built for a world table tennis championships which one of our kind with a penchant for words as big as himself christened the Irish Embassy for the duration of the Games.
The description was apt for the boxing venue that became our home from home for most of the 16 days of action as John Joe Nevin, Darren Sutherland, John Joe Joyce, Paddy Barnes and a very special man by the name of Kenny Egan did their country proud.
Sunday was St. Kenny's Day as the Irish boxing team captain prepared to take on Chinese hero Xiaoping Zhang in the light-heavyweight final, and Ireland waited for only our second gold medal in the ring.
It was Michael Carruth's golden achievement in Barcelona some 16 years earlier that prompted Egan's love affair with boxing, and all tournament he had been keeping his pre-game promise to follow suit.
First Irishman into the ring on the opening day of the boxing action, the affable Egan promised to be the last Irishman out of it on Sunday, the final day of competition.
And he was, but sadly not with the gold medal wrapped around his bulging neck, not that Egan didn't do enough to win the fight. He did, but corrupt judging - not for the first time at these Olympics - ensured Zhang was even credited for shots landed by Egan.
Our man lost the final 11-7. In truth he was never going to win it in a ring crowded by Zhang, the referee, five judges and 1.3 billion Chinese.
There was honor in defeat, however. Everyone but the Chinese could see the error of the judge's ways, even if the closest Egan got to that gold medal was to kiss it on his way off the presentation podium.
There was also great pride in the name of love when Egan landed in Paddy O'Shea's later that night along with his brothers Willie, Tony and John and a gang of lads from the Boomers Pub in Clondalkin, who ensured the Worker's Gymnasium rocked to an "Ole Ole Ole" beat all tournament long.
They celebrated, they sang, they danced, they kissed the medal that should have been of a different hue.
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