THE Raphoe Amateur Boxing Club is in desperate need of funding to finish an extension to their gym in order to provide adequate facilities for all of their members.
Work has started on a 460 square foot extension to the building in St Eunan’s Terrace. Due to the influx of new members this season, the club is stretched for space and coaches have had to add extra sessions to an already-busy schedule to accommodate the budding young punchers.
It is estimated that the extension would cost €27,000 to complete.
“I would appeal to Minister Ring for any surplus funding and also to any of the Donegal County Councillors out there: We need to finish the extension so we can move the ring into it and ensure that we have enough space for all the members,” said Raphoe ABC founder and Donegal Boxing Board President, Peter O’Donnell.
“At the minute the coaches are coming in an extra night during the week and on Saturday mornings to cater for all the new members.
“We have up to 50 young boxers at any one time and when they’re all in for training and the gear is set up – the bags, the pads, the skipping ropes – as well as the ring, space is very tight.
“We want to get this funding so we don’t have to turn people away. The coaches here are already under strain, but we’re lucky to have Gary McCullagh and his team of coaches who do so much on top of training, like taking boxers away for tournaments and competitions.”
Head coach McCullagh and the other club coaches – John Sweeney, Paul O’Donnell, Tommy Stewart and Gerard Keaveney – train boxers from all ages from Raphoe and the surrounding areas like Ballindrait, Lifford, Castlefin and St Johnston. At the minute, the club is also home during the week to some boxers from south Donegal who are boarding at the Royal and Prior.
Mr O’Donnell said: “We are not funded in any way and we have been dependent on the councillors’ development funds and the DFI has been good to us in the past. We need the boxer fees to keep the club running and we have no other source of funding. Before a door is open at the start of the season, it costs us €1,600 for insurance and €300 for water rates – that’s if we use a pint of water or a million gallons!
“We have spent a total of €188,000 on the gym, but only €42,000 of that is grant assisted. The rest of it we raised through the generous people of Raphoe and the local area, the supporters and sponsors.”
The Raphoe ABC, formed in 1987, started off in a room above McBrearty’s Bookmakers before moving to the Raphoe Vocational School and then the Marathon Hall. In 1994, the club started building its new home and in 1998 the doors of the gym was opened for the first time. The Raphoe ABC transformed old waste ground into a home for the pugilists of the town with the assistance of former TD Paddy Harte in those days.
A 400 square foot extension was added in 2012 to include new changing rooms and showers.
Seamus McBrearty was the club’s first All-Ireland champion and in the early 90s Gerard McGranaghan scooped a schoolboy All-Ireland crown. The club’s most famous boxer was Danny ‘Boy’ Ryan, the Irish middleweight champion in 1993 who subsequently turned professional. In May of this year, eleven-year-old Ballindrait girl Cody Lafferty ended a 21-year wait for the club’s next All-Ireland winner, as she won the Girl 1 31kgs title.
The club stages two tournaments a year and on Saturday-week, November 29, they host a fight night at Deele College.
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