Tonight’s Ireland v England boxing international takes place at the end of a disappointing 2016 for the Irish Athletic Boxing Association, especially with no medals from Rio and a review of 2016 together with future plans will be discussed at the Stadium prior to tonight’s International. It will cover the period from 2017 to the end of the 2020 Olympic cycle.
Most important of all insofar as Irish boxers, coaches and fans of the sport are concerned will be CEO Fergal Carruth’s explanation as to what went wrong and why and what the IABA intends to do to ensure that the next four years are more productive medal wise particularly since the Elite team has lost several key performers including but not restricted to Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan and Katie Taylor.
According to the ‘Irish Sun’ today, Carruth will also touch upon the Michael O’Reilly saga and the defection to USA Boxing of Billy Walsh. Hopefully this will be a full account and not simply repeating that they made good offers to Walsh and that there was nothing they could do to stop him for few believed that when they last said it and hopefully today’s version will be ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’.
Similarly with the Michael O’Reilly case which caused serious damage in relations between the IABA and AIBA and many in the sport,, and not just in Ireland, believe that it was partially as a result of the way this was (or was not) handled by the AIBA that led to other Irish boxers being harshly judged in Rio.
According to ‘The Sun’,Carruth, brother of 1992 gold medallist Michael, said: “The Strategic Plan sets out the key areas for development and change within Irish boxing over the next four years.
“And it follows a comprehensive consultation process carried out by consultants Lisa Clancy of Clansult Ltd and Sarah O’Shea of SOS Sports Consult Ltd.
“It is an important time for the IABA as we plan for our future.”
The IABA, despite its shabby treatment of Billy Walsh, is lucky to have a top class coaching staff still in place with Zuar Antia, John Conlan and Eddie Bolger and Antia must be given complete authority over team selection without having to have his choices approved by the IABA Ltd/Boxing Council. The IABA’s various boards and councils should only provide the support for the coaches & boxers and NOT interfere in “day to day” affairs.
It will be a big help that the HPU High Performance unit is now based at Abbotstown and will be working closely with other sports and with the Irish Institute of Sport rather than at the Stadium.
The question of appointing 30% females for Board Directors to comply with Minister Patrick O’Donovan’s recent initiative is also likely to be raised and this gives a great opportunity to bring new female directors to the sport albeit not necessarily ones with boxing experience as many of the skills needed to be a top class Director involve such as accounting, organisational ability and experience in sports administration not necessarily with the IABA.
One of the consultants assisting with the Strategy Report is Lisa Clancy, herself a former GAA Communications Director between 2008 and 2015. Also assisting with the report is another well-known consultant Sarah O’Shea of SOS Sports Consult Ltd, a recently formed Dublin agency but again with experience in other arenas in previous years.
More news on those proposals when we have it from the National Stadium and Good luck to the Irish team who should be too strong for a relatively inexperienced England squad and thus a 6:2 or 7:1 Irish victory is to be expected.