What are the real stories behind Ireland's first Olympic medal winners?

Historian Tom Hunt chats to Off The Ball about some of our pre-Independence participants

What are the real stories behind Ireland's first Olympic medal winners?

The 1896 Olympics

Do you know how many medals Irish athletes one in the Olympics which preceded Irish Independence?

The total is 24 gold medals, 20 silver and 10 bronzes, in comparison to nine golds, eight silver and 11 bronze medals since the first Games entry as an independent nation in 1924.

Ireland's pre-Independence Olympic history is fascinating and on tonight's Off The Ball, author and historian Tom Hunt joined us to shed light on that era in Irish sport including our first ever medallist, John Pius Boland, a tennis player.

The Capel Street, Dublin-born man decided to travel to Athens to spectate at the Olympics, having no intention to compete, only entering when he was told that the tennis tournament was under-subscribed.

Another was Peter O’Connor, from Wicklow, who was world famous at the time and part of a separate team of three Irishmen who competed under the old Irish flag from that time.

O’Connor won two medals in the 1906 Intercalated Games and it is said that O’Connor climbed the flagpole at the silver medal presentation and unfurled the old flag of Eire.

Hunt says "a protest definitely happened" but that "it's become much more important retrospectively" than it was at the time.

Also up for discussion was the view of the GAA as well as the issue of national affiliation.

Listen to the full piece on the podcast player: