Paddy Barnes: Rory McIlroy’s ‘talking s**t’ with Olympics excuses

‘Tell the truth: There is no prize money to be made from the Olympics for a golfer. That’s it’

Unfortunately you can make this up: Ireland’s leading amateur boxer stands beneath a bookmaker’s logo to slate Ireland’s greatest professional golfer.

Paddy Barnes has weighed in on Rory McIlroy's refusal to tee up at the Rio Olympics next month. Barnes – speaking at a sponsorship function, having resolved a fictional dispute with Paddy Power – questioned McIlroy's recent comments about the irrelevancy of chasing a gold medal (in golf).

“I don’t really agree with what he is saying on the basis that this is the third excuse so I don’t know whether he is telling the truth or not,” said Barnes.

“Make up your mind. Tell the truth: There is no prize money to be made from the Olympics for a golfer. No prize money, that’s it.


“The Zika excuse doesn’t carry weight for anyone competing at the Olympics but especially golfers who go on holidays and play big tournaments where the virus exists. And it is extremely rare to catch. It is not a valid excuse.”

McIlroy, speaking at the British Open in Royal Troon earlier this week, stated that winning Major championships is the main reason he plays golf.

“I’ll probably watch the Olympics, but I’m not sure golf will be one of the events I’ll watch,” said McIlroy. “Probably (I’ll watch) the events like track and field, swimming, diving, the stuff that matters.”

Barnes, who will compete at his third Olympics next month, believes McIlroy has been poorly advised.

“It’s his team around him making him say stuff,” said two-time bronze medallist. “It’s just a money thing and I’d have more respect for them (golfers) if they came out and told the truth.

“After saying he may start a family in the future and didn’t want to be at risk, he’s now saying the Majors are his Olympics and that Rio doesn’t matter. Next week it’ll be something else. He needs to make his mind up, he’s talking shit. Just tell the truth. And the truth is he’s not going with Team Ireland because Paddy Barnes is carrying the flag for Team Ireland and he isn’t.

“I’ve no concerns about the Zika virus. There’s disease all around the world and the chances of catching it in Brazil are slim to none. If anyone has concerns it should be me as my fiancée Mari is pregnant. I’m not worried because it’s so rare to catch.

“If someone said to me, ‘Paddy, it’s like this, you can have a Gold medal at the Olympics but you’ve got to catch the Zika virus’ – I’d take Zika all day long. F**kin’ right I would.”

Regarding the inclusion of professional boxers at the Rio Games, Barnes added: “Different rules entirely. Bigger gloves, different pace to bouts. It’s like a jumps horse racing in the 1000 Guineas. The sprints horse is going to win obviously, two completely different sports.”

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent