Kenneth Egan: Why Rio 2016 "could be the biggest medal haul" Ireland's boxers have had yet

2008 silver medalist looks at our medal hopes fighter by fighter

Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan

Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

As the Rio Olympics tick ever closer, the main medal hope for Team Ireland is in the boxing competitions.

Sports Illustrated have Ireland down as winning two golds (Katie Taylor and Michael Conlan), two silvers (Joe Ward and Michael O'Reilly) and a bronze (Paddy Barnes).

Kenneth Egan, who won silver at Beijing 2008, joined Off The Ball tonight and confident that Ireland will bring home many boxing medals, analysed each of our fighters' chances one-by-one.

Katie Taylor

"It's hard to believe she was beaten twice in the last six months. She's not getting any younger, we all know that and understand that. Sport, it's not fair sometimes and I suppose the clock keeps ticking. Katie Taylor is getting older. The fact that she was beaten twice in such a short period of time, all these other girls will have noticed this and they're going to have that belief and there's nothing worse than fighting someone who thinks they can beat you. It's two fights in one.

"So that's what's going to happen with Katie. She's going to have to really raise her game and we all know she's the Olympic champion. If she pulls this off again and does the double, it'll be a different kettle of fish. This will be a much, much sweeter Olympics gold than the last one.

"But for her to win the gold again, it's a big ask. Is it possible? Of course it's possible. Katie has massive belief in herself. She has the talent. It's getting the gameplan together and getting it right for each fight and I'm sure Zaur [Antia] is the man to help her there."

Michael Conlan and Katie Taylor/INPHO

Michael Conlan

"To be honest, I would love 5% of his talent. The kid can switch, hit, he can do whatever he wants in the ring and he's so relaxed. Even at the Worlds, he wasn't 100% but he still went out and won the gold.

"He thinks he's going to win the [Olympic] gold and he is likely to win the gold but there's a few good kids in there with him. There's a good Cuban in there and an American who's junior Olympic champion.

"So we'll have to keep an eye out but it's over three rounds. It's short and sweet, so it's important that he gets a good start. If you lose the first round, it's an uphill struggle but he's got a great chance of winning gold." 

Paddy Barnes

"He's flag-bearer, he's captain, he's the most experienced on the team. He is a legend. For him to go out here, he believes he can win every time, every spar, every race, every sprint. That's just Paddy Barnes. That's his make-up.

"He has a great chance of winning a medal. Will he win the gold? It's anyone's guess. The Olympic games are a funny competition. You have a lot of world champions from the previous year coming to the Games that don't win the Olympic gold. It's a strange competition. Anything can happen.

"Paddy Barnes has the talent, hopefully he goes out there and he's in good form. He's down on his weight, everything's polished and he has a great chance of medalling."    

The full team and Ireland's overall medal hopes 

Egan also looked ahead to the challenges that await the likes of Joe Ward, David Oliver Joyce, Brendan Irvine, Steven Donnelly and Michael O'Reilly as well as the chances for Ireland's boxers as a hope.

"This is probably the best team we've ever had going into an Olympic games. It's the biggest team as well. We've a great chance of medals.

"This could be the biggest medal haul we've had yet."