Fr Flana­gan Boxing Club launched

Wicklow People (Arklow) - - SPORT - BREN­DAN LAWRENCE at Bless­ing­ton

THE doors of the Fr Flana­gan Boxing Club were of­fi­cially flung open last Satur­day af­ter­noon in Bless­ing­ton when a large crowd turned up to cel­e­brate the amal­ga­ma­tion of the Bless­ing­ton and Bal­ly­more Hol­ly­wood boxing clubs in the com­pany of spe­cial guests Ken­neth Egan, Olympic sil­ver medal­ist, Athy’s Eric Dono­van, cur­rent un­beaten pro­fes­sional and Euro­pean bronze medal­ist and IABA CEO Fer­gal Car­ruth.

With train­ing un­der­way three nights a week and over 40 box­ers turn­ing up ev­ery night it’s safe to say that the fu­ture of the sport is very bright in west Wick­low

‘De­lighted with the turnout,’ said Gerry O’Neill. ‘We had peo­ple from west Wick­low, from the Na­tional Sta­dium, it’s a great day, it’s the launch, and we’re look­ing for­ward to a bright fu­ture.

‘My­self, Bobby Cahill and a few more, the likes of Paddy Blake, Lord have mercy on him, Paddy only passed away two years ago, and he was here with me for many a year in the club in Bless­ing­ton. He was here with me when Jimmy Hughes gave us the key of this place in 1981. Jimmy pre­dicted that we’d last about two weeks and 37 years later we’re still at it.

‘We built on the ex­ten­sion here with the help from the IABA and sports cap­i­tal fund­ing and that, you know. Through­out the years we had a lot of las com­ing. Thou­sands of lads came through those doors, from all over west Wick­low, iron­i­cally even the Bal­ly­more Hol­ly­wood, they were even part of this club go­ing back, they trained and boxed here so it’s kind of a nat­u­ral mar­riage if you like,’ added Gerry.

A grad­ual fall in num­bers within both clubs prompted much court­ing of the idea of a merger and the new club, Fr Flana­gan Boxing Club, will be af­fil­i­ated with Kil­dare County Board as both the Bal­ly­more Hol­ly­wood and Bless­ing­ton clubs were due to ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­gis­tics.

‘We are af­fil­i­ated with Kil­dare County Board, as we have been in the past. When we started in 1081, Bless­ing­ton Boxing Club was af­fil­i­ated with Kil­dare County Board. It be­ing a win­ter sport, we al­ways found it dif­fi­cult cross­ing the Gap. We did have to af­fil­i­ate to Wick­lkow for a while but there’s no prob­lem with Wick­low County Board, we get on very well, and we hope to im­prove our boxing with Kil­dare and with Wick­low, we want to have more in­ter-county tour­na­ments.

‘Through­out the last year or two we strug­gled with num­bers, not too bad, we al­ways had 10 or 15 lads. Nume­brs were down in Bal­ly­more Hol­ly­wood as well over the last few years and now we have this place as a boxing club. The lads in Bal­ly­more Hol­ly­wood have done great work in the re­cent past get­ting the new bags, and Mick Dou­glas, prob­a­bly the old­est of the crew, but there’s more life in Mick Dou­glas than most lads.

‘Even at the mo­ment we have some very good young lads. I can see Le­in­ster cham­pi­ons this year and maybe even All-Ire­land cham­pi­ons this year. We have Sean Mur­phy (head coach) and Richie Sweet­man, the stan­dard of those lads, and all the crew, Rob­bie Far­rell, Bobby Gill and Sean Ma­hon work­ing be­hind the scenes, there’s great de­ter­mi­na­tion and we’ll be pro­duc­ing shocks very soon,’ said Gerry.

Fr Flana­gan com­mit­tee mem­ber and co-founder Michael Gill spoke to the large crowd that gath­ered for the of­fi­cial open­ing. He said that the amal­ga­ma­tion was ‘fan­tas­tic’ for all the com­mu­ni­ties in­volved.

‘I’d just like to wel­come ev­ery­one here to­day. It’s fan­tas­tic to see so many peo­ple here from all the dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties. My first ex­pe­ri­ence in boxing was in Lanes­boro un­der Tommy Harold, but when I came to Kil­dare, I met Sean (Mur­phy) and we set up Bal­ly­more Boxing Club. But be­fore we set that up, I ac­tu­ally came up here to Bless­ing­ton and the first fight I ever had was with Gerry (O’Neill) in my cor­ner. And that was my first in­tro­duc­tion to Bless­ing­ton Boxing Club.

‘This was thought about for a cou­ple of years, for two year we were think­ing about it, and we came to­gether and had a meet­ing about it, and we think it’s a fan­tas­tic plan to bring all these com­mu­ni­ties to­gether. We’ve had a big his­tory in boxing, both Bal­ly­more Hol­ly­wood and Bless­ing­ton. It’s just a fan­tas­tic thing for the com­mu­ni­ties.

‘The ex­pe­ri­ence that Bal­ly­more Hol­ly­wood brings to Bless­ing­ton with the coach­ing team we have, the nu­mer­ous Ir­ish cham­pi­ons that were in Bal­ly­more Hol­ly­wood, you have Mick Dou­glas, Bobby Gill, Sean as head coach, Rob­bie Far­rell, to see all these peo­ple giv­ing up their time and com­ing up here to coach kids three days a week on top of bring­ing box­ers away spar­ring, you know no­body re­ally un­der­stands the com­mit­ment that coaches give for young peo­ple on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. With­out them this wouldn’t hap­pen,’ he added.

One of the many spe­cial guests on the day was the IABA CEO Fer­gal Car­ruth who said that clubs like Fr Flana­gan were the lifeblood of the IABA and he thanked the volunteers with­out whom none of it would be pos­si­ble.

‘I’m de­lighted to be here on be­half on the IABA. My favourite as­pects of the job that I do is com­ing out to clubs like this and see­ing the fan­tas­tic work that’s be­ing done. I’m de­lighted to come here to help cel­e­brate the amal­ga­ma­tion of these two clubs into the Fr Flana­gan Club.

‘I’d like to thank the com­mit­tee who in­vited me along, Gerry O’Neill, Amanda Gill and Michael Gill. And in­deed, the coaches, Sean Mur­phy, head coach, Mick Dou­glas and Bobby Gill, and all the box­ers past and present who are here to­day.

‘Michael Gill has been a fan­tas­tic con­trib­u­tor to the IABA over the years. He’s a ref­eree and judge both do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally, he’s a great club man, he’s vice-pres­i­dent of the Le­in­ster pro­vin­cial coun­cil and he’s a mem­ber of the High Per­for­mance Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee for the IABA.

‘The amount of time that goes in be­hind the scenes to make boxing the suc­cess story that it is is just un­be­liev­able. The amount of time that is given by peo­ple like the peo­ple here to­day, the coaches, the com­mit­tee is just phe­nom­e­nal. For the most part it’s un­her­alded, it’s un­seen and it’s not cel­e­brated, but to­day I’m de­lighted to see it be­ing cel­e­brated here to­day.

Fer­gal Car­ruth then paid trib­ute to the two spe­cial guests in at­ten­dance at the of­fi­cial open­ing of the Fr Flana­gan Boxing Club, Ken­neth Egan and Eric Dono­van.

‘It would be re­miss of me not to men­tion some peo­ple who are here to­day and the suc­cess story of the IABA. We’re very well known for the high per­for­mance struc­ture that we have in place and we’re very, very proud of that and we’ll con­tinue to make that as strong as pos­si­ble. Two prod­ucts of that are here to­day in the form of Eric Dono­van and Ken­neth Egan.

‘Eric is a mul­ti­ple All-Ire­land win­ner, a Euro­pean bronze medal­ist, he’s cur­rently un­beaten in pro­fes­sional ranks haivng won eight bouts and he’s a very suc­cess­ful pun­dit on RTE. It’s great to have Eric and it’s great to have Ken­neth who is 10-time All-Ire­land Se­nior cham­pion, EU mul­ti­ple cham­pion, Euro­pean bronze medal­ist twice and an Olympic sil­ver medal­ist.

‘I’m sure the lads will agree be­cause they have come up through the ranks from clubs like this, our high per­for­mance pro­gramme could not be suc­cess­ful, it couldn’t even be in ex­is­tence with­out clubs like this. It couldn’t be in ex­is­tence with­out peo­ple who come to your club night af­ter night, open it up, put the heat­ing on be­fore the chil­dren come in and give of their time to un­selfishly.

‘Clubs like this are the back­bone of our or­gan­i­sa­tion, and they’re the very lifeblood of the or­gan­i­sa­tion and the rea­son for the suc­cess of the IABA,’ he added.

Fr Flana­gan Boxing Club get their com­pet­i­tive life up and run­ning this Satur­day evening in Avon Ri when they are host­ing a tour­na­ment from 7pm.

Spe­cial guests, coaches and mem­bers of the Fr Flana­gan Boxing Club at the of­fi­cial open­ing last Satur­day.

Noah Balfe with Olympic sil­ver medal­list Ken­neth Egan at the off­i­cal open­ing of the Fr. Flana­gan Boxing Club in Bless­ing­ton.

Mick Dug­gan, Mick Gill and Gerry O’Neill.

Kay­den Healy McGuire with Athy’s Eric Dono­van, Euro­pean bronze medal­list and un­beaten pro­fes­sional.

Gerry O’Neill ad­dresses the crowd.

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