Published Wednesday, 08 August 2012
Cain O'Connor in action. (© Getty)
He scored one fault in the final round and lay in joint first place alongside Dutch rider Gerco Schroder with 17 riders to go at Greenwich Park on Wednesday.
But Switzerland's Steve Guerdat went clear with no faults to claim gold, putting O'Connor and Schroder into a jump-off for silver and bronze.
The Dutchman was faultless but O'Connor and Blue Loyd clipped the last fence and had to settle for third place.
It gives Team Ireland its first medal of the Games, with boxers Michael Conlan and Katie Taylor guaranteed to add to that total in the coming days.
The success comes after O'Connor was stripped of the gold medal he won in Athens eight years ago when his horse, Waterford Crystal, failed a drugs test.
Meanwhile there was heartache for 54-year-old Nick Skelton of Team GB.
He would have forced a jump-off with Guerdat had he gone clear, but he knocked down just one fence to cost him a medal position.