Medal count now at three as confident Conlan goes through


SO OUT of the blue corner, Ireland has its third Olympic medal of these games. Michael Conlan, the skinny Belfast kid with the fast tongue and faster hands, bested Nordine Oubaali in an absorbing flyweight scrap in front of a fiercely partisan crowd last night. He now has a bronze medal – and will fight on for brighter metals.

Conlan came through his three-round bout which the Frenchman transformed into a street brawl on a scoreline of 5-5, 7-7 and 10-6 to give the Irish fighter a 22-18 points win.

“Whoever threw the most punches in the last round was going to win,” Conlan said. “I knew I would be here. Words can’t describe how I’m feeling right now, it’s amazing.

“He was giving me grief and hitting me around the back of the head and it messed up my game plan at the start. Thank God I have a medal.”

What better place to win an Olympic boxing medal than in London’s East End, whose streets are littered with addresses of storied ring men.

He walked into the raucous Excel arena to the kind of atmosphere redolent of teeming nights with Wayne McCullough or Barry McGuigan.

Oubaal was busy and scrappy and threatened to throw Conlan, who had won their previous encounters, out of stride.

His headgear came loose in the first round. Billy Walsh, the Irish coach, had to give him a cuff after the second round. “He told me to put the boot down and wake up a bit,” Conlan said laughing. So the west Belfast boy with the crucifix tattooed around his neck did just that.

If he gets a night out in London, he had better bring his ID because although he is 20, his face hasn’t changed much since his Confirmation.

He is brimming with self-belief for his fight with Robeisy Ramirez in his semi-final on Friday night.

Today, the Katie Taylor adventure in class resumes. Good things are expected. The Irish are flooding the East End in a way they haven’t done for decades.