Until today and the O'Donovan brothers, fourth places have haunted Irish rowing. In Montreal in 1976 Sean Drea was fourth in the single sculls and 20 years later, in the Atlanta Games of 1996, the Lightweight Four of Neville Maxwell, Tony O'Connor, Sam Lynch and Derek Holland also filled the dreaded fourth placing.

Watching Gary and Paul O'Donovan's heroics in this afternoon's final in Rio got the better of Maxwell in the RTÉ studios, when all that pent up emotion burst out with a tearful and emotional reaction.

Meanwhile, President Michael D Higgins has sent his congratulations to the O’Donovans.

"On behalf of the people of Ireland, I want to congratulate Paul and Gary O’Donovan on a silver medal today - Ireland’s first ever Olympic rowing medal," said the President.

"They have captured the nation’s imagination and their skill, determination and positive outlook make them outstanding ambassadors for their sport, and for their community long into the future.

"Their success today will encourage young men and women all around the island to participate in sport and realise that success at the highest level is possible in virtually every sport."