‘I didn’t really expect him to win but Conor has done a lot for Ireland’
Fans crowd into Dublin pub to watch local boy fight Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas
Was it worth staying up for? Was it worth, indeed, going out and sitting in a pub all night for?
Views were mixed as the tenth round opened at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, and quickly closed, among a Dublin crowd at a city-centre hostelry on Sunday morning. They had sat, cheered, sang and - in the end - grown despondent through the night for McGregor.
For Aoibhinn Moore, from Tipperary, however, it had been “an honour”. Describing herself “very upset” the restaurant manager, her eyes tearful, said : “He fought for Ireland. He fought for us. I didn’t really expect him to win but Conor has done a lot for Ireland, a lot for sport. It has been an honour.”
“I live in Dublin, but I would have travelled up if I’d had to. It was absolutely worth it. I have work now in four hours, until 9 pm, but I have no regrets,” she said, shortly before 6am.
She was one of about 150 people who had paid €5 into the small venue to watch the the pay-per view bout live.
The ‘lock-in’ was probably one of many of such after-hours affairs put on in pubs across Dublin on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
The manager of this pub - who asked that neither he nor the premises be identified - said he knew of several others in the city doing the same.
“If you have a good relationship with the guards you’re ok. A few around here have had their knuckles rapped, told they’re not to have lock-ins tonight, but we work well with them.”
Nobody was allowed in after 1am, when the doors were closed. Four bar staff were busy, serving and clearing tables, until 6am.
Few thought McGregor had much of a chance against Mayweather, even in his ‘home-town’, Crumlin, a few hours earlier.
“He’s up against it, but he’s young, he’s fit and he’s not going to be intimidated,” said ’Bra’ Brady, who trained McGregor between 2000 and 2008. “ And what has he got to lose? It’s his first professional boxing match up against perhaps the best in the world. He has nothing to lose.
“If he wins, he still owes me €70 for the plumbing tools I bought him when he was starting out as a plumber a few years ago.”
Vincent Barry was planning to watch the bout at home. “Look at what Conor’s done. He’s a local. He gives people hope. Everyone loves him.”
Nor did Laura Keane, a retail-worker at the later ‘lock-in’, said she expected him to win. “I get all my information from people coming into the shop, and they say he hasn’t a hope. But I just love the way he got to where he is. He has the most strongest mentality.”
Nobody was going to let any misgivings about the 29-year-old’s prospects deter their delight, and roars of encouragement, for the man and the event they were waiting for - almost 12,000km and six time-zones away.
Loud “boooooooo”s and thumbs down were hurled at the images of Mayweather getting a head massage in his dressing room about 4.20am, while “C’mon McGregor!!” was thundered at the pictures coming live from his dressing room 10 minutes later .
When the wall-sized screen at one end of the bar showed Imelda May step into the ring in Vegas to begin her performance of Amhrán na bhFiann, the words were belted out, all hands in the air, with gusto from the Dublin basement bar.
A quick sing-song dominated by The Fields of Athenry followed during the American national anthem.
And shortly after 5am, it began. The first two rounds went well for our man. Even round three seemed good and the cheers came loud and loyal.
By round five, Stephen, a civil engineer on his third Jameson and ginger ale, was frowning. “That’s the beginning of the end,” he said.
As McGregor seemed to land a few punches on the Mayweather, cocktail bar manager Adam Cosgrave, seemed encouraged. “There we go. There we go.” But the cheers grow more subdued over the next few rounds, the applause perfunctory.
By round 10, it wasn’t just McGregor’s legs that were wobbling. Hopes were too.
Some, like Peter from Donegal, were annoyed the fight ended without a knockout. “That’s very disappointing,” he said. Was it worth it? “Yes and no. I don’t know. I wouldn’t have missed it though. It had to be done.”
The shutters came down on the bar. People got their coats. On the screens, McGregor looked happy in a post-fight interview.
“Of course he is,” said Peter. “One hundred million dollars happy. ”