It was a busy day of action in Tokyo on Day 3 of the Olympic Games.
It was a day Mona McSharry will remember for the rest of her life, as she made through to the Olympic Breaststroke 100M final, while Michaela Walsh and the Irish Ladies Hockey Team both suffered losses which didn't quite represent the final score line.
Swimming - Mona McSharry
For the first time in 25 years, Team Ireland will have a swimmer in an Olympic final as Mona McSharry booked her spot in the Tokyo 2020 100m Breaststroke final on Monday morning. The 20-year-old from Grange in Sligo once again showed her incredible mental strength and talent as she swam 1:06.59 to qualify for the Olympic final in 8th place.
It was truly an outstanding performance from McSharry who told Her Sport pre-Olympics that a semi-final was the target. Now the Sligo native has gone one better and proved she is one of the finest swimmers in the world.
Swimming in lane two, McSharry touched the half-way mark in 6th place, with a time of 31.62s. Knowing she had to make a move in the final stretch, the University of Tennessee student dug deep to cut the gap and touch home in 4th place with a time of 1:06.59. McSharry made the an Olympic final on her debut, by 0.01s ahead of the Australian Chelsea Hodges.
As a result, she is just the second Irish swimmer ever to make an Olympic final.
McSharry told RTE, “I was really just going out there to race and I'm happy to say that race felt a lot better than the one I did yesterday, so that's exciting.
"I'm just grabbing my baring's at the moment. It's just amazing this is my first event at the Olympics and I've find it into the final. You can't not be happy with that.
"No ones given the medal before they go in. We all have an equal chance. I'm definitely going to go for it."
The 100m Breaststroke final takes place on Tuesday morning at 03:17am Irish time.
Catch our full exclusive interviews with Mona McSharry here. Subscribe to Her Sport’s YouTube channel for more videos, follow us on Instagram, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.
Hockey - Ireland vs Netherlands
A late flurry of goals saw the world number one side eventually break the Green Army down and win 4-0. The score line was harsh on Ireland who defended like Trojans with body on the line tackles, blocks and saves.
Felice Albers had given the Dutch a strong start just 8 minutes into the game but the Green Army kept the goals out for the guts of 40 minutes. Testament to the Irish defence, the Netherlands were forced into a number of uncharacteristic mistakes. The pressure and low block defence for Ireland consistently saw the Dutch players snatch at chances they normally would show more composure on.
The Irish defence were fairly strong and able to keep up with any threats the Netherlands threw, right up until the 3rd quarter. The Dutch side then got a hattrick of late goals to see out their victory and extend their winning streak over Ireland to 30 games dating back to 1963.
Goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran delivered a saving masterclass as she blocked not one, not two but SEVEN penalty corners as well as her usually impressive shot stopping from open play.
“It’s tough to take; we defended really well and I am proud of how everyone kept fighting to the end,” McFerran said in the wake of the tie despite a stellar personal performance.
“I am disappointed, particularly with the last goal and didn’t do myself justice in that one but overall the Dutch showed they are number one for a reason.”
It was a momentous day for captain Katie Mullan as she earned her 200th cap for Ireland.
It leaves Ireland with three points from two games ahead of Wednesday's game with Germany (4.15am, Irish time).
Boxing - Women's Featherweight
It was heartbreak for Belfast boxer Michaela Walsh after she was beaten by Italy's Irma Testa in a 5-0 unanimous decision. Again the scorecard didn't quite tell the tale of the fight but as Walsh said post-bout, "that's boxing."
In the opening round, Walsh took a 3-2 lead as she put was ahead with three of five judges after a massive first round. She had Italy's Testa on the back foot throughout, weaving and ducking out of Testa’s left jab reach, and frustrating the Italian throughout to take an edge going into the second. It could have been a bigger lead going into the second round but the judges didn't see it that way.
Testa bounced back strong though, and used her height and physical presence to edge ahead going into the last round.
The final round was a must-win in order to keep Walsh’s Olympic dreams alive, but with momentum now with Testa, and despite some superb punches and footwork from Walsh, the judges ruled in favour of the Italian by unanimous decision in the end.
Seen as a medal contender heading into the Games, Walsh was gracious in defeat.
“I felt the first round I won clear, I think it was 3-2 up, she came on in the second round and won in the third round. She had her moments and I had mine. But unfortunately, she got the nod, and I wish her all the best, and I hope she can go all the way.
“I felt the coaches had a perfect game plan coming into this. Obviously I knew her very well, and the things to be working in the first round. It’s just sometimes you don’t know what the judges are looking for. Coming into the fight I was feeling very confident. She’s very tall at the weight and very rangy, with very quick jabs. Going in, I was to keep my distance and make her miss a lot, and I was countering it, and going back into the body. It was working for me in the first round. She came out in the second and caught me with a good few jabs.
“I felt I lost the second, and in the third I felt she had her moments and I had mine. When you hear unanimous decision it’s a bit disheartening, but I was very happy with the game plan and what the coaches here were telling me to do. It was her day today.”
Her post-fight interview shows it all - heartbreak, while still being gracious in defeat,
'I felt it was a great fight, but it was her day today... I hope she can go all the way' - A graceful Michaela Walsh reacts to her defeat with @damien_omeara#olympics #tokyo20200 #RTESporthttps://t.co/b2OI4OoWVJhttps://t.co/XQVyHi6f7c pic.twitter.com/WXd5YI52Rc
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) July 26, 2021
Stay tuned for these athletes competing later today:
11.45am 200m Individual Medley - Ellen Walshe
10.30pm Women's Triathlon - Carolyn Hayes