Irish rowers Gary and Paul O’Donovan became unlikely heroes around the world last week, scooping Ireland’s first medal of the Olympics in the lightweight men’s double sculls
With their comedic and ultra-irish interview style winning them legions of fans around the world, and GQ magazine naming them the stars of the Olympics so far, there have also been a few women courting a further romantic interest in the young Cork brothers, only to be warned off by their mother in typical Irish Mammy style.
Trish O’Donovan, mother of Paul (22) and Gary (23), has warned her sons’ new flock of female admirers that they’ll have a tough time getting through her strict requirements if they are set to have any chance at all with either one of the Irish athletes.
"They will have to go through me first," she told the Irish Independent.
"I will have to vet them all first. But they will all have to be athletes. No one else would understand them.”
During one of their laid-back, charismatic interviews, the lads from Skibbereen in Cork have mentioned a heightened interest from their female fans with Paul even admitting he’s been inundated with calls and messages from Irish women, even being invited to a few dances.
Landing back in Cork after her stint in Rio, however, Trish insists that the rush of fame will not go to her sons’ heads and they will "keep their feet firmly on the ground".
The O'Donovan matriarch also revealed she had been saving her pennies for a trip to Rio since 2008 when she first started to believe her boys would make it to the Olympics.
By using saving stamps with her local credit union, she put enough money away to see her over to Brazil and watch the brothers historic silver-medal placing, but is now confident they can go one better in the next games in Tokyo in 2020.
"In 2008 they made the Irish team as juniors and they went to the Home Internationals in Cardiff," she said.
"They stormed it in Cardiff and got the gold. That was when I started saving. I said they are going to the Olympics - they are not going to stop.
"Every week I went up to (Skibbereen) credit union and put in a few saving stamps.
"I don't care now if I have to strap myself onto the wing of the plane for Tokyo, I'm going there.
"I'm glad I didn't spend it now because watching Gary and Paul in Rio was a dream come true. I was the proudest woman on the planet that day.”
It seems the Games’ unlikely heroes have a history of breaking for the norm, as not only do differ from the generic winning interviews, but their mother admits they were “mad as hatters” when they were younger.
“When they were young they wouldn't even put shoes on,” Mammy O’Donovan continued.
"I had an awful job getting them to wear shoes to school. They used to run around barefoot. But rowing calmed them down. They love their sport and are really dedicated to it. So there is fear of them."
Although she returned to Ireland yesterday the O’Donovan rowers are not set to yet return to the country after the Games, hoping to continue their winning streak in Rotterdam for the World Sculling championship on August 21 before returning home
This is only the beginning for the Cork athletes, however, and Trisha firmly believes they can bring home to the gold in 2020
"They wanted it (gold). They nearly had it (in Rio). But, what harm? I do think because the way the race was put back (because of weather) it cost them.
"If they had a day of rest before the final it would have been theirs.
"They were gunning for it - they were ready for it. They want the gold and they know they have the making of it (for Tokyo).”
Ireland’s medal count now stands at two silvers following an amazing leapfrog into second place by Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial (Dinghy) sailing competition. Four years after a heartbreaking fourth place finish in London, Murphy set the record straight, winning her first Olympic medal and doubling Team Ireland’s total.
Although her interview may not have provided the laugh-out-loud honesty of the rowing brothers, Murphy was delighted to finally find herself up on the podium and given her own opportunity to sport her “podium pants,” as the O’Donovans would say.
Elsewhere in Rio, post-fight interviews took a more sombre and angry tone in the boxing arena as Michael Conlan vented his frustration at the system which saw him losing out on a medal spot in the flightweight division. Both he and gold-medal hopeful Katie Taylor were left devastated by judge’s decision which ended their Olympic Games.
Katie Taylor admits it has been a very difficult year as she reflects on losing Olympic crown https://t.co/mrA7PmWJhl— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 15, 2016