Guard of honour at National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire

 

SAILING:THE SUN smiled on Annalise Murphy as a guard of honour formed outside the doors of the National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire yesterday evening. A cool sea breeze whipped around the gathering of friends and family who had come to welcome her home along with other members of the Irish Olympic sailing team.

Murphy, who came fourth in her event after leading in the early stages, posed for countless photos and signed everything handed to her. Although weary, she was more than happy to oblige.

“I’ve been away for a month now, had a fantastic time, but it’s great to be home,” she said.

“I think it will have an effect on sailing now as a lot of people may not have understood it before this but now more people will want to get involved.”

She said she would be taking it easy for the next year. “I’ve been away 270 days a year for the past three years and it’s tough being way from home so much. I’m going back in September to UCD to do a degree in science. I deferred it three years ago as I didn’t want to put a half-hearted approach into college or sailing. I’m older now and I feel like I can manage things better.”

Rory Fitzpatrick, Murphy’s coach, said: “I’m hugely proud of Annalise. That was her first Olympics and she performed out of her skin. She had four days of sailing perfection and what she has achieved so far is the tip of the iceberg.

“Rio is a huge objective now. It has been a learning experience for the guys but they can see now how much work has to be done and they can dig deep for a medal in 2016,” he said.

Murphy’s brother Finn Murphy took on the job of being her social media co-ordinator and was taken aback by the support she received.

“Annalise needed someone to mind her Twitter [account] so I took it over. I logged on one day and she had got a couple of thousand followers in a few days. I tweeted one day that she went to the cinema and people were so intrigued – but at the end of the day she has to have some kind of normal life.”

James O’Callaghan, Irish Sailing Association performance director, said: “We’re our own harshest judges, so we’re calling it a homecoming reception rather than a celebration. We are disappointed that we didn’t hit our targets, but progress was made and we are proud of all our competitors.”

He said the Olympics closing ceremony had been amazing “so we’re still coming down to earth”.

Another member of the sailing team, Matt McGovern, said he was exhausted from the past few days but happy to be home and see his family, who had travelled from Northern Ireland.

“My voice is nearly gone because we were screaming our hearts out for the Irish boxers,” he said. “The Olympics has such a fantastic atmosphere and the closing ceremony was out of this world. I lived with the rest of the sailing team in a house outside the village but we were blown away by the size and scale of it.”