At times eerily silent during the Covid-19 pandemic, Dublin Airport’s arrivals gate erupted in cheers and a flurry of waving Irish flags to welcome home boxing champions Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O’Rourke on Saturday.
Family, friends, coaches and supporters gathered in Terminal 1 for the homecoming of Ireland’s amateur boxers from the women’s World Boxing Championships in Istanbul.
Broadhurst and O’Rourke were both returning with gold medals around their necks, having joined esteemed company such as Katie Taylor and Kellie Harrington with wins one after the other in Turkey on Thursday.
Speaking after walking through the arrivals gates, Broadhurst (25), from Co Louth, said the reception was “incredible” and the victory still had not sunk in.
“I’ve been waiting for this for so long, since I was five years old these are things I’ve dreamt about and for it to finally come true, you can’t describe it,” she said.
“There’s been so many times I wanted to give up… achieving big things like this is what kept me going, I always knew this is what I was made for,” she said.
O’Rourke (20) said the support from across the country and in particular her hometown of Castlerea, Co Roscommon had been “unreal”.
After her surprise win at the Sinan Erdem Dome she got a congratulatory phone call from Katie Taylor. “Katie and Kellie, they are people to look up to, every girl in boxing looks up to them,” she said.
“We were delighted for her, we didn’t really expect it to be honest because she’s so young. Please God the future looks bright for her” her father Kevin said.
Several supporters in Roscommon GAA jerseys were among the crowd to cheer the group’s return. One Rossie based in Dublin said the county “didn’t have many” sporting heroes, so he had decided to come out to the airport to cheer O’Rourke’s homecoming.
Michael Mongan, head coach at Galway Olympic boxing club, who has been training O’Rourke and her sister Aoife, who was also among the Irish team at the championships, said for them to bring home one gold medal was fantastic. “Aoife was unlucky it wasn’t her day, but Lisa was absolutely fantastic, she was so composed,” he said.
A brother who travelled over from London and an 86-year-old grandad were among Broadhurst’s family cheering her arrival home on Saturday evening. Her aunt, Geraldine Sands, said the victory was “a great day for Irish sport” and a “very proud moment” for the family.
The Irish team who travelled to the championships also included Shannon Sweeney, Caitlin Fryers, Carly McNaul, Niamh Fay, Michaela Walsh and Kaci Rock.
Broadhurst praised the group as a “very young team” of boxers who had bright futures in the sport. “In four years, five years time these girls are going to be walking through this airport world medallists as well, they’ve big futures ahead of them,” she said.
After the elation of the World Championship win Broadhurst said she will take the next two weeks off before preparation starts for the Commonwealth Games in July.
As for her plans tonight, the Dundalk woman said: “I’m going home for a Chinese”.