ACTION-PACKED MORNING FOR TEAM IRELAND ON DAY FOUR OF TOKYO 2020

Mona McSharry became the first Irish swimmer in 25 years to compete at an Olympic final today, and put in a solid performance this morning in her 100m Breaststroke final, placing 8th overall in a time of 1:06.94.

Earlier in the day, a superb performance from Carolyn Hayes in the women’s triathlon saw her finish in 23rd position in a time of 2:02:10, while there was also good news from the boxers, with Aidan Walsh powering his way into the quarter-finals of the men’s Welterweight.

Annalise Murphy secured her first top 10 finish of the Games in race five of the Laser Radial series, while there was heartbreak for the Irish men’s Rugby Sevens squad meanwhile as despite taking their first ever Olympic win over Kenya this morning (12-7) it was not enough to see them through to the quarter final stages.

BOXING

Aidan Walsh has qualified for the quarter finals of the Men’s Welterweight (63-69kg), following a unanimous win over Cameroon’s Albert Mengue Ayissi. The Belfast boxer used his height to his advantage, and boxed smart.

Speaking after the bout the determined fighter said; “It’s amazing to get the first one out of the way and focus on the next one. I just listened to the coaches’ advice and did what they were telling me. My strategy going into it was to keep it long, keep the basics and to do what the coaches said. They always have the best advice and you just have to put your trust in them and listen to the advice that’s given to you. But keep it simple, and what’s worked for me and got me here.”

While most athletes are being cheered on virtually by family, Walsh’s sister, Michaela, is also a member of the boxing team, competing yesterday in the Women’s Feather event so was on hand to cheer him on.

“To do it alongside my sister is even more amazing,” Aidan continued. “It’s incredible it’s just one of those ones you can’t even describe, because it’s surreal. Especially in boxing, like something you hear of brothers in the family, but brother and sister, obviously with the female boxing coming along so good it’s amazing. Obviously I’m disappointed for my sister, but now she’ll be rooting for me. We always root for each other - it doesn’t matter what tournament, win, lose or draw.”

RUGBY SEVENS

It was a bittersweet first Olympic win for the Irish Rugby Sevens squad at Tokyo Stadium today as, despite securing their first win of the Games, it just was not enough to see them through to the quarter-final stages. Having lost out to South Africa and USA in their opening pool games on Monday, Ireland came into today’s clash with Kenya with the knowledge that they had to win by at least eight points in order to progress. Unfortunately, they did not secure the eight-point margin needed to qualify, and now go into the placing games where they face Korea later today.

Early on, it looked like the dream was firmly in the bag, as an immense defensive effort throughout kept the Kenyan attack at bay, while Hugo Lennox and Harry McNulty were on hand to score two first half tries to see Ireland into a 12-0 lead at the break. A solid second half defensive display from the Irish kept the pressure off, but they were just unable to add more to their tally at the other end and, with 47 seconds to play, Kenya delivered the death blow, crossing the line for a converted try. Time ran out on Ireland, and though they won out 12-7, it was not enough to qualify.

Speaking afterwards, Harry McNulty stated:Nobody really wanted this scenario unfortunately with the points difference. It’s disappointing. I think we really should have won that game by a whole lot more. If we had one more score on the board, or if we didn’t let them in, we would have gone through to the quarters.

“Realistically, if we had played at our best the last two days I think we would have been well and truly in there and have a really good shot at putting ourselves up for some sort of medal. It’s just disappointing because we know we’re so much better. It’s probably one of the lesser performances of our careers. I don’t know what’s really going wrong, but we’re not firing on all cylinders. It’s just simple errors. It’s really small errors, but at this level, particularly at the Olympics, those errors will cost you.”

SAILING

Annalise Murphy secured her first top 10 finish of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games this morning, as she secured a ninth place position in the fifth race of the Laser Radial. This morning’s race was the mid-way point of the series, and Murphy is currently preparing to get race six underway. More to follow.

SWIMMING

Sligo’s Mona McSharry made history today, becoming the first Irish swimmer in 25 years to compete in an Olympic final. Ranked 11th entering the heats on Sunday evening, McSharry qualified for the semi-final in 9th, before going one step further to reach the final in 8th place. A time of 1:06.94 in the final - slightly outside of her semi-final race of 1:06.59 -  saw her finish 8th overall.

Speaking afterwards, she said: “It’s amazing, thinking about it like that, that there hasn’t been anyone else who has done this in 25 years, I think it puts it into perspective. For me, racing in it is just another final - but it really is a lot more than that. It makes me feel so proud that I made it there.

“In the race it was hard to tell, I was really just trying to go for it. It definitely felt like a good race and anything sub 1:07 is a good race in my mind so I’m happy with the race. Of course it wasn’t a PB and was the slowest of the three rounds, but I think that comes as well from that there was a sense of relief in making it to the final so I was just excited to go out there and race and see what would happen. The worst  that could happen was that I come 8th at the Olympics and that’s what happened so that’s not a bad result for my first event.”

There was huge support from home with many setting their alarms to watch live. Including McSharry’s family at home in Grange, Co. Sligo.

“To see all the people who are even staying awake at 3am in the morning to watch me race, it kind of just shows that there is  huge support behind me and they really care and that’s amazing, I really do want to say thank you to everyone for that. It really does mean the world.”

TRIATHLON

A battling performance from Carolyn Hayes saw her claim 23rd place in the Women’s Individual Triathlon, in a race delayed by challenging weather conditions. Hayes posted a time of 2:02:10 with the run being the most impactful aspect of her race, posting the 10th fastest time in the field for the 10km segment.

A morning of heavy rainfall delayed the start time by 15 minutes, with the tail end of a typhoon sweeping through Odaiba Marine Park. Hayes exited the swim in 41st position, and the treacherous cycling conditions saw a number of athletes fall, but Hayes worked up to the front of her pack in time for the second transition - posting the fastest T2 in the field in 28th place. She gradually picked off another five spots during the run, and was just four seconds off the athlete in front of her after putting in an impressive sprint finish.

“I’m happy enough with the performance,” she said afterwards.
“I obviously came for a better result, but considering where I’ve come from and everything I’ve done over the last few years I have to be pleased with it
. The Olympics -  I’ve always said - it’s the pinnacle of sport. I always hoped that I’d get here, and probably didn’t believe I would, so I think it’ll probably hit me later tonight that I’ve just competed in the Olympic Games.”

Action continues for Team Ireland today, with sailors Annalise Murphy and Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove on the water today, while Darragh Greene, Daniel Wiffen and the relay team will all hit the pool this evening for their respective heats.

MORNING RESULTS DAY FOUR: JULY 27TH, 2021

BOXING

Men’s Welterweight (63-69kg) – Aidan Walsh (IRL) Vs Albert Mengue Ayissi (CMR), win for IRL 5-0 by unanimous decision

RUGBY SEVENS

Pool C, Game 3: Kenya 7-12 Ireland

SAILING

Laser Radial, Race 5: Annalise Murphy, 9th

SWIMMING

Women’s 100m Breaststroke Final: Mona McSharry, 8th with a time of 1:06.94

TRIATHLON

Triathlon Women’s Individual – Carolyn Hayes, 23rd with 2:02:10

DAY FOUR SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES ARE IRISH TIME): July 27th, 2021

04:05 Sailing – Annalise Murphy – Laser Radial Race 6

06:50 Sailing – Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove, 49er, Races 1, 2 and 3

08:30 Rugby Sevens – Ireland v Republic of Korea, Men’s Placing 9-12

11:50 Swimming – Darragh Greene – 200m Breaststroke Heats

12:03 Swimming – Relay – 4x 200m Freestyle

12:31 Swimming – Daniel Wiffen – 800m Freestyle

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