By Jonny Stapleton
Dynamic Dublin duo Emmet Brennan and Kellie Harrington ended the capital’s 19-year wait for a boxing Olympian.
The pair will be the first Dubs to compete at the Games since Kenneth Egan and the late great Darren Sutherland the ‘Batman and Robin’ of Bejing 2008.
The pair both secured qualification in the initially revamped then pandemic reshaped European Boxing qualifiers which played out in Paris over the long weekend and beyond.
Indeed, Harrington came home with gold as well as the golden ticket to Tokyo and was one of the standout performers in the tournament.
The were concerns Olympic postponment would effect St Mary’s BC fighter the most. The humble St Vincent Hospital worker followed in Katie Taylor’s footsteps by winning World Championship gold in late 2018 and went into 2020 as the #1 at her weight on the planet.
However, hand injuries and the delay had some wondering whether or not the Sheriff street native was stilll at her peak.
Harrington produced the kind of tournament that proved not only does she still have it but she may just have that little bit more – and she goes to Tokyo as Ireland’s best gold medal hope regardless of sporting code.
The 31-year-old won four fights in Paris, two of which came against fellow Olympic medal contenders and fighters
previously fancied to take her best lightweight in the world crown.
The decorated amateur first had to fight a reigning profesional world champion with 18 knockouts from 20 fights, in Maiva Hamadouche, to ensure her career got the Olympic adventure it deserves.
She schooled the brawler for two rounds before going toe to toe in the final round of the most eagerly anticipated amateur fight since the pandemic.
Then going for gold Harrington was faced with Team GB’s latest golden girl and sister to heavy prospect Daniel Dubois, Caroline Dubois. Again her skill, craft and experience were to much for the Brit with a bright future.
Harrington was a clear winner and ensured a high seeding heading to Tokyo meaning she is likely to avoid any major threats until the medal stages.
“It is just a massive sense of relief knowing that it’s done,” Harrington said after been confirmed unamious victor over the IBF srap holder.
“I have had a tough draw, meeting a professional world champion in an amateur competition like this. That is a big thing to do.”
If Harrington waltz majestically through the front door of the plane to Tokyo, bolter Brennan (left) burst his way through the back.
The 30-year-old, who took a Credit Union loan to fund his Olympic dream when retirement was calling in 2017, won a box off on Monday night to bring Irish boxing’s Olympic team up to seven.
The Dublin Dockland’s fighter won a dirty, scrappy and tense last chance saloon shootout to become one of the stories of qualification.
Brennan excited at the quarterfinal stage, but had a back door box off chance which he tood despite being docked a point in a fight where is opponent was extremely dirty.
Speaking after Brenann instantly set his sights on winning a medal: “The plan is to get a medal. I’m going to give it everything I have, I quit boxing and only came back four or five years ago.
“The goal was to get to the Olympics. Now it’s to push on and try to get a medal, I’m going to give it everything I have.”
Photo credit – Ray McManus/Sportsfile