Busy weekend for Ireland's Elite
boxers at Celtic Box Cup in Dungarvan
by Michael O'Neill
September 22, 2015
Dervla Duffy: (photo IABA.ie)
(SEPT 22) A busy weekend ahead
for many of Ireland’s Elite boxers as the 2015 edition of the
CELTIC BOX CUP gets underway Friday at the Sports Centre in the
West Waterford seaside town of Dungarvan.
Some 255 boxers from not only Ireland but also neighbours
England, Scotland and Wales will join international stars from
many countries including Poland, Portugal even Australia and
United Arab Emirates (Dubai).
Current Irish Elite champions Dervla Duffy, Kelly Harrington and
Clare Grace have entered this year as have many top male stars
including National champions Dean Gardiner and Myles Casey.
Five-time Irish Elite champion Eric Donovan, a European Elite
medallist, is another to appear , along with 2015 Elite
finalists Joanne Lambe, the 2014 Elite champion, Matthew Tinker,
and AIBA World Youth silver medallist Christina Desmond.
Desmond and Grace, a European Elite bronze medallist who is
ranked No. 8 in the world by AIBA, could renew acquaintances in
the middleweight final. Both women clashed last January in the
Elite welterweight decider at the National Stadium in Dublin,
with Grace edging a split decision. Desmond will be keen to
reverse that decision this weekend.
The duo have since moved up to the middleweight class which one
of the only three Olympic weight classes for women yet again in
The Celtic Box Cup was founded in 2013. Since then it has grown
to be one of Ireland’s leading boxing tournaments. The Dungarvan
club itself was founded by Gerry O’Mahony, former Irish boxing
team manager and Munster Council President and of course among
its members was the late great Peter Crotty. In fact Crotty
started his career at St Mary’s BC Clonmel at a time when there
was no club in Dungarvan.
Nicknamed the “Iron Man of Dungarvan”, Peter Crotty was the
first boxer to win four Irish Welterweight Championships in a
row between 1949 and 1952,and eight in all. He represented
Ireland at the Olympics in Helsinki, Finland in 1952 and was
later chosen to represent Europe against the mighty United
States team in the “Golden Gloves” tournament in Chicago. He
also represented his country more than 80 times.
Among those who will not be in Dungarvan this weekend are Ceire
Smith and Katie Taylor. The Bray woman, together with Smith, has
joined up with the Irish Elite Male World Championships squad
for a training camp in Assisi, Italy
with coaches Billy Walsh, Zuar Antia and Eddie Bolger. The men’s
team are preparing for the 2015 AIBA World’s in Doha some 12
Joe Ward, Michael O’Reilly, Adam Nolan, Dean Walsh, Sean McComb,
Michael Conlan and Brendan Irvine will represent Ireland at the
18th edition of the Championships which are doubling up as a
qualifier for Rio 2016.
“We’ll train with Italy and Belarus in Assisi and the World
Championships team will leave for Doha from Italy on October
2nd, “ said Billy Walsh, who will be Irish head coach in Assisi
Walsh’s own future remains uncertain with talks understood to be
‘ongoing’ with his employers IABA together no doubt with input
from Sport Ireland/Irish Sports Council and others keen that one
of the world’s leading coaches remains at the helm of Irish
boxing and not accept the excellent offer he is believed to have
received from USA Boxing to take charge of their women’s squad.
USA Boxing understandably remains silent on the subject.
One major problem which in the writer’s opinion needs to be
resolved – and with some urgency – is overall control of ALL
Irish boxing including the women’s team, Youth and Juniors. One
simply cannot have two different teams in charge and overall
control MUST go to Walsh and his HPU team if Irish women are to
continue to excel in Olympic and World Championships especially
when Katie Taylor retires. There must be closer co-operation
between the men’s and women’s squads.
Billy Walsh (or a successor if he leaves) MUST have overall
control and anything less will in effect mean the present two
tier system continuing, albeit few agree publically that there
is a 2 tier system.
Young boxers have already been lost to the sport due to this and
such as Sport Ireland MUST insist that it is not to continue if
they are to continue to fund the sport as they do now.
That it has done for so long is yet another reason why major
changes in the overall control of Irish boxing need to be
implemented as a matter of urgency, and before next month’s IABA
Congress in Ennis. The country needs to have a proper structure
in place that allows up and coming stars like Amy Broadhurst,
Ciara Ginty, and more urgently Michaela Walsh, Clare Grace,
Christina Desmond and a few others to be seconded to the HPU
squad and regularly travelling to training camps like that in
The ‘Old Men’ of the IABA have served their country well but
with some in their 70’s and 80’s unless Irish boxing ‘rings in
the changes’ and very soon, the country now a powerhouse in AIBA
boxing thanks to such as Walsh, Antia, Peter Taylor and others
will soon be left behind in the ‘new’ world of AIBA, and those
who believe that success is guaranteed are simply burying their
heads in the sand.
Politics of any sort must NOT be allowed to potentially damage
the career prospects of some of the new potential stars of Irish
women’s boxing as they have done in the recent past.