By Bernard O’Neill: Irish captain Ken Egan had to settle for a silver medal at the 29th Olympiad after he was beaten 11-7 by China’s Xiaoping Zhang in the light heavyweight final in Beijing.
Zhang was ahead 2-0 at the end of the first round and maintained his two point advantage going into the final frame before having his hand raised in victory amid an electric atmosphere at the Workers Indoor Arena.
Egan, from the Neilstown club in Dublin, was 7-5 in arrears at the end of the third round.
And Zhang, who worked effectively off his long reach for most of the fight, added another four points to his tally in the fourth to claim 81Kg gold.
Twenty six year old Egan dropped to his knees after the final bell and buried his head in his hands in despair.
But the Irish skipper and the rest of the Ireland squad can be immensely proud of their achievements at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Egan, Paddy Barnes and Darren Sutherland are taking home one silver and two bronze medals - Ireland’s total medal haul from all sports at the Beijing Games.
And John Joe Joyce and John Joe Nevin both recorded wins on their Olympic debuts before losing out in the last sixteen to opponents that eventually won gold.
In fact, the entire Irish team were beaten by fighters that won gold, Zhang, Great Britain’s James DeGale, China’s Shiming Zou, Felix Diaz of the Dominican Republic and Mongolia’s Badar - Uugan Enkhbat.
Speaking after today’s final, the President of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, Dominic O’Rourke said that he was very proud of the achievements of the Irish squad in Beijing.
He said: "If we were asked before the Olympics if we would settle for one silver and two bronze medals we would have taken it. This Irish squad have done their country proud.
"We are very disappointed for Ken. He has been fantastic at these Games and he gave it everything in there. I thought that when he pulled back to within one point of Zhang in the third that he was going to go ahead. But Zhang was then awarded a few points that no one saw and Ken was playing catch up again.
"Our squad can be very proud of what they have achieved out here. We will be bringing home three medals and the younger members of our squad will be bringing home a lot of experience.
"We have proved that we can compete with the best in the world and it has been a fantastic adventure for us with so many memorable moments - you couldn’t write the script."
The 2008 Olympics will conclude with a closing ceremony at the Bird Nest Stadium in Beijing today.
Ken Egan will carry the Irish flag at the ceremony.
The Irish team are due to arrive home via Dublin Airport at 5.10pm on Tuesday.