Prelude

The Rio Olympics is in full swing but the mood in Dublin is not a good one. I’ve been here a week and things are not going well for the Irish. I’m sitting in the Metro in Parnell Street. With a Guinness naturally.

“Go on Katie, go on,” the young man in front of me urges.

“What’s she doing? She’s being pushed back. I think she’ll lose points for that,” says another guy.

A few minutes later the pub is in stunned silence. Katie Taylor, the 2012 Olympic champion, the London Olympics flag bearer, has lost on a split decision to Potkonen, a Finnish boxer who has never beaten her before. Taylor takes  a full ten seconds to compose herself in front of the RTÉ cameras after the fight. Around 3,000 of her fans are waiting, watching on a big screen at the seafront in her hometown of Bray. When she does eventually speak it’s just a few words. She can’t believe it and the nation can’t believe it.

The boxing team, the heartbeat of Irish Olympic sport has taken a battering, with a string of defeats following the sudden departure of one boxer after failing a drugs test, while an Irish man has been arrested for allegedly selling tickets above face value, with some of the tickets marked as coming from an allocation from the Irish Olympic authorities. And now the boxing icon has fallen.

Outside, Dublin is like any other attractive tourist city. A mixture of different accents bounce around the pavements of O’Connell Street as touts (invariably dressed in green) try to sell tickets to the country’s various attractions or draw them into shops where they can buy all manner of (invariably coloured green) tat. A man dressed as a leprechaun waves leaflets at passers-by. He must be hot dressed like that in the sun and does he know Katie has lost I wonder?

It’s Day 11 of the 2016 Olympic games and Ireland has just one medal – a silver in the rowing courtesy of Gary and Paul O’Donovan, brothers from Cork.

There are just five days left. Surely there is better to come.

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