'He's effortless in the ring. He has the talent. It's just a problem with his discipline'

Ireland’s boxers can keep their focus as O’Reilly controversy develops, says Kenneth Egan.

O'Reilly: "Talent coming out his ears."
Image: Francis Myers/INPHO

THE BOMBSHELL OF Michael O’Reilly’s failed drugs test will not disrupt the rest of Ireland’s boxers in their quest for Olympic glory, Beijing silver medallist Kenneth Egan said last night.

Team Ireland was rocked on Thursday when it emerged that O’Reilly has tested positive for a banned substance and has been provisionally suspended on the eve of the Rio Games.

The Portlaoise fighter, who was seeded third in the middleweight division and ranked as one of Ireland’s top prospects in the ring, must now either accept the alleged violation or request that his B sample be analysed.

Reports on Thursday indicated that O’Reilly’s positive may be for a recreational, rather than performance-enhancing, drug.

“He has talent coming out his ears but his discipline was questionable over the last number of years,” Egan said on Newstalk’s Off  The Ball.

This kid could have went on and won a medal handy enough. He’s effortless in the ring, he has the talent. It’s just a problem with his discipline that has come up every now and again.

“It’s an awful shock and an awful shame. To hear that news as an athlete, it must be tormenting.”

As news of the controversy broke back home, Ireland’s eight-strong Olympic team, including O’Reilly, learned their path to glory at the official draw in Rio on Thursday morning.

Steven Donnelly will be the first Irish boxer in action when the welterweight preliminaries begin on Sunday (4.15pm Irish time).

While Egan acknowledged that there will be shockwaves in the camp, he said that the  boxers will be focused on their goal.

And he warned that the Irish boxing community will need to support O’Reilly at this ‘vulnerable’ time.

“It is a massive shock for the team. They go out there together, they train together. This is a strong unit that’s gone out to Rio but at the end of the day, it’s an individual sport and they all know that themselves. I’m sure they’re going to focus now on the job at hand.

It is shocking news for the team and the coaches but they’re out there to do a job. They’re out there to perform.

“It’s heartbreaking stuff. He’s going to have to be looked after himself. He’s very, very vulnerable now at the moment and he will need to be looked after when he comes home.

“It wasn’t performance-enhancing so he wasn’t there to try to get the better of anybody at the Olympic Games. It was just a silly mistake and it has come back to bite him in the ass. He’ll need to be guided and he’ll need to be looked after.”

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