Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland boxers pleased as punch after trolling Rory McIlroy from Olympics, but golf superstar sees the funny side

By Nevin Farrell

Paddy Barnes has taken an online dig at golfer Rory McIlroy as the Belfast boxer prepares for his first Olympic fight in Rio.

Barnes is nearly as well-known for his jibes on Twitter as he is for his jabs in the ring, and roped in McIlroy for some high-profile banter to set the internet ablaze.

The 29-year-old boxer - who fights at light-flyweight today - wound McIlroy up by posing for a picture with the Co Down man's former fiancee, Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki.

Barnes and Wozniacki were flag-bearers for Ireland and Denmark at the huge Olympics opening ceremony.

Barnes tagged both Wozniacki and McIlroy while posting the selfie to Twitter and wrote: "Hey @CaroWozniacki I think we make a great couple, what ya think @McIlroyRory."

McIlroy and Wozniacki famously broke up two years ago after getting engaged - and had even sent out invitations for their wedding.

Belfast boxer Michael Conlan also mercilessly teased Rory after posing for a picture with the Hollywood man's good friend, golfer Rickie Fowler.

Conlan and Barnes ribbed McIlroy about not attending the Olympics because of his fears over the Zika virus, which has been linked to serious birth defects.

Conlan tagged McIlroy and said Fowler had chided him for not turning up.

Barnes also posted a picture of a bed with a mosquito-type net over it and said Rory could have used it.

Barnes later said on Twitter that he was "just having fun" with McIlroy.

The golf star rolled with the punches and took the banter in good humour.

He posted: "@paddyb_ireland @mickconlan11 good luck lads! If your boxing is as good as your tweeting it should be 2 guaranteed golds!!"

Conlan tweeted: "Brilliant good to see you got a sense of humour Rory, we're all friends here".

But he couldn't resist ending his message with a cheeky hashtag - TeamZika.

Rory - currently the world number four in golf - is due to marry new fiancee Erica Stoll next year, and suggested that his desire to start a family had influenced his decision to stay away from Rio.

He said recently that the Olympics do not represent the "pinnacle" of golf and said he would be watching the "events that matter" at Rio - which apparently won't include his own sport.

USA Today asked if Barnes had "crossed a line when he snapped a selfie with Caroline Wozniacki and called out her ex-fiance Rory McIlroy on Twitter?"

But Barnes said it was just a bit of craic. "I had to look up 'the craic' to figure out that Barnes basically said he's poking fun at McIlroy", the USA Today reporter later wrote.

Barnes now switches his attention to preparing for his first fight. The double Olympic bronze medallist received a bye into the second round - the quarter-final stage of the men's light-flyweight bracket.

His first tussle in the ring will take place today and as he was seeded at four, Barnes will face either a Spanish or Armenian boxer.

Conlan, the number one seed, has also received a bye into the second round and fights next weekend.

Belfast Telegraph


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