A is for ANNALISE Murphy
What a hero. The young Dubliner suffered a heart breaking fourth place finish in Weymouth at the London Games in 2012 but bounced back in Rio with a silver medal in the laser radial class as Ireland fell in love with sailing. The affable Murphy will never have to buy a drink in a yacht club again!
B is for Paddy BARNES
The Irish boxing team captain was tipped for gold after two bronze medals but lasted just three rounds in Rio, complaining afterwards that he has struggled to make light flyweight for two years now. That smacks of poor leadership from his coaches and robbed the two time medalist of his shot at history. Expect Barnes to go pro now.
C is for Michael CONLAN
The judge who took charge of Conlan’s opening bout defeat against Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin was sent home in disgrace before the Irishman had even left Rio; then some of his judges were stood down by AIBA. Such was the level of robbery inflicted on the Belfast man who aimed a tirade of abuse towards amateur boxing officialdom after this shocking result. Conlan will turn pro now and prove he is world class despite the unjust scoring in Brazil.
D is for John DELANEY
The FAI chief is currently taking legal advice after Brazilian police issued a warrant for his passport -- not quite the same as issuing a warrant for his arrest -- in their investigation into the OCI ticketing scandal. Delaney’s silence on the issue has been deafening and it does the FAI no good to be dragged into this sorry mess.
E is for Scott EVANS
The Donegal star made the last 16 of the badminton and thrilled many a female admirer when he ripped his shirt off after his final two matches. Those who know such things tell me his six-pack is Ronaldo-esque. I prefer Guinness six packs myself.
F is for Mo FARAH
The marathon is next on the agenda for the Somalian-born British distance runner who won both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres in Brazil to prove he is still the main man on the world stage – 26 miles will probably be a doddle for Mo.
G is for Team GB
British Airways added a gold tip to the jumbo jet that flew their team home to London on Tuesday, and why not after a phenomenal Olympics that saw them bring back 77 medals, 12 more than London four years ago and their biggest haul in over 100 years. It’s amazing what can happen when a government invests in sport!
H is for Pat HICKEY
He will be forever known for the dressing gown and dressing down arrest scene in a Rio hotel that has gone viral thanks to an ESPN cameraman. Ireland’s Olympic chief is currently languishing in a notorious Rio jail as police investigate a ticketing scandal. Guilty or not, the Hickey story has brought shame on the nation.
I is for IABA
Ireland’s amateur boxing overlords let Billy Walsh move to the United States last year and paid the price as their so-called Golden Team left Brazil without a single medal. Not one. They did deliver our only doping scandal, though, and complained bitterly as scoring decisions went against their boxers. Maybe they should look a little closer to home and examine how they do their own business before throwing stones.
J is for JUSTIN Rose
The Brit wasn’t afraid of the Zika virus and won a wonderful golf tournament at the Games after a brilliant final round shoot-out with Henrik Stenson. Such was the success of the golf that those who opted out now look even more ridiculous.
K is for KATIE Taylor
She will always be a national treasure, but Katie will want to forget Rio very quickly after a dubious defeat to Finland’s Mira Potkonen in her opening defense of the lightweight title won in London. Katie hasn’t been the same since her dad Pete left her coaching team and may never be the same again.
L is for LEONA Maguire
The world’s top amateur showed some male golfers up when she braved the Rio marshlands and finished a creditable 44th on golf’s return to the Olympics. The 65 she shot in the second round will live long in the memory – as will the 66 from teammate Stephanie Meadows the same day.
M is for MICHAEL O’Reilly
The Portlaoise club man was already in Rio but the boxing hadn’t even started when it was announced that O’Reilly had failed a drugs test in the build-up to the Games. Apparently he took a stimulant supplied by a friend who had nothing to do with the Irish team. That must qualify for the gold medal in stupidity.
N is for NEYMAR
Soccer is everything in Brazil and Neymar delivered when it mattered most with the winning penalty when the gold medal match against Germany went to a shoot-out on Sunday night. He’s already got a five rings tattoo and will forever be a Brazilian hero now.
O is for the O’DONOVAN brothers, Gary and Paul
The O’Donovan rowing boys from Skibbereen were the Irish success story of these Games as they powered their way to the silver medal in the lightweight double sculls and won the hearts of the nation with their brilliant television interviews. They are two real characters who acted as the perfect antidote to the ticketing and doping scandals that beset the Irish team.
P is for Michael PHELPS
The American legend retired after Rio but not before he brought his staggering Olympic medal haul to 28, 23 of them gold. Nothing more needs to be said.
Q is for German QUEENS Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhoorst
Okay, so we had to find some reason to mention the beach volleyball, women’s that is, and these two broke Brazilian hearts with victory in the late night final against the host nation on the Copacabana. Just don’t ask me the score. I wasn’t watching the scoreboard!
R is for ROB Heffernan
The veteran Cork hero had to make do with a sixth placed finish in the 50 kilometer walk, but already he is talking about another Olympic adventure in Tokyo four years from now. Don’t bet against him.
S is for SILVER
The Irish team left for Rio with huge gold medal expectations – mostly in boxing – but came home with only the silver lining provided by Annalise Murphy and the O’Donovan brothers, Paul and Gary. Not good enough.
T is for THOMAS Barr
The Waterford youngster came so close to a medal in the 800 meters final with a brave run that eventually left him in fourth position as a nation held its breath. Barr is young enough to medal in Tokyo and well capable of it on this evidence.
U is for USAIN Bolt
Three Olympics, nine gold medals and untouchable again in Rio. Bolt has retired and is, as he wanted, right up there alongside the likes of Ali and Pele. Genius.
V is for VIVIAN Cheruiyot
The young Kenyan provided one of the real highlights on the track when she took on 10,000 meter champion and world record holder Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia over 5,000 meters and won – one of the biggest shocks of the Games.
W is for Billy WALSH
Ireland’s loss was America’s gain as the great Wexford man led his U.S. team to two boxing medals in Rio, two more than Ireland’s golden generation manager. Walsh needs to be brought back home. And soon.
X is for XU XIN of China
Okay, you try and find an X in an Olympian’s name without reverting to the Chinese team! Xu was part of the Chinese table tennis squad that won all before it in Rio, including victory over Japan in the men’s team final. I love his teammate’s name by the way – Ma Long!
Y is for American YOBS
Another stretch of the imagination, but why didn’t 12 time medalist and American swimmer Ryan Lochte come clean over his incident in a Rio petrol station instead of telling his mother he’d been robbed at gun point? Gin point more like!
Z is for ZIKA
Thanks to Ireland’s doping and ticketing scandals we barely heard mention of the Zika virus during the Olympics. And let’s be honest, a few of us did laugh when it was announced during the Games that the virus had hit Florida, home state of a certain Irish golfer who opted out of the Olympics because of his Zika fears. Karma anyone?
(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin, available online at www.thesun.ie)