BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL’S boxing fraternity gets together on Saturday night to celebrate the most successful season in the 48-year history of the Donegal County Board.
Formed in 1966, the Donegal Board has never stood as tall as it does now.
In the last boxing season, which runs September-September, 23 boxers from the county won an impressive 29 national titles. It was certainly a year to savour for the local supporters of the sweet science and a lavish awards night this weekend in the Abbey Hotel, Donegal town will toast those punchers who scaled new heights.
“We are expecting up to 300 people to attend the night, it is as big as ever,” said Peter O’Donnell, President of the Donegal Boxing Board.
“There was boxing before 1966 in places like Ballyshannon, Donegal town, Milford and Crolly, but in ‘66 the Board was formed and the last season was easily our most successful.”
The leading light, of course, is Jason Quigley.
The Finn Valley ABC middleweight won Irish and Eurpean senior titles and went on to reach the final at the World Championship, becoming the first male Irish boxer to win a silver medal at those Championships.
Quigley was one of six boxers to win double titles at national level in the last season, taking home Irish senior and Irish Under-23 honours. Finn Valley’s Michael Gallagher, Leon Gallagher and Austeja Auciute also won two titles in that period, as did Convoy young gun Bryan McNamee and Carrigart’s Maeve McCarron, a European bronze medalist in 2013.
These boxers are among those who will be honoured for their exploits in Donegal town on Saturday night.
“We have had so much going on with boxers in Championships that we couldn’t hold this event until now,” Mr O’Donnell said.
There will be four awards for officials who have been on international duty during 2013 – James McCarron (Carrigart), Thomas McCarron (Carrigart), Conor Quigley (Finn Valley) and Sadie Duffy (Illies Golden Gloves) – and there will be two appreciation awards for services to Donegal boxing – the McCarron family, Carrigart and Packie Harkin from Convoy.
There are also three awards for services to Irish and International boxing to be presented to Pat McGrory MBE and Jack Monaghan, both from Belfast, and Derry’s Jim Noonan while there will also be an Honorary Life Vice-President Award presented to Illies GG’s Andy McLaughlin. 24 boxing coaches who have recently passed their Level One coaching course will receive their certificates on the night.
The Michael Bonnar Memorial Cup for the best Juvenile boxer will be presented by Donegal Child Protection Officer Jack Greene; the Billy ‘Spider’ Kelly Memorial Cup for the best youth boxer will be presented by the President of the Raphoe BC, Tommy Stewart; the John McLaughlin Memorial Cup for the best Intermediate boxer will be presented by Stephen McLaughlin, grandson of he late John McLaughlin; the Jimmy Murphy Memorial Club will go to the Club of the Year and this trophy, in its inaugural year, will be presented by Paul O’Donnell, nephew of the late Jimmy Murphy.
The major award of the night will be the Harry ‘Kid’ Duffy Trophy for the best senior boxer and this will be presented by Paddy Doherty of Ballyshannon, himself a seven times winner of this trophy during a distinguished career.
2013 has been the most successful year ever in the Donegal Boxing Board’s history with Jason Quigley winning Under-23 European Gold, European Senior Gold and World Championship Silver, while Maeve McCarron of Carrigart and Leon Gallagher of Finn Valley both won European bronze in their respective divisions.
The dinner will be served at 8pm sharp, followed by the presentations and Donegal’s most talked about love band, The Rockhill Ramblers, will provide the music to be followed by a disco with Inishowen’s three-deck wizard DJ Ray Donaghey. Tickets are keenly priced at €20 and can be had from any of the local seventeen boxing clubs in Donegal.
The County Board extend a special thanks to the hard working Paddy Doherty, Ballyshannon and David McDonagh, Bundoran and to all the generous sponsors: Naturelle Consumer Products, Donegal town Credit Union, Euro Spar Ballyshannon, GMG Plumbing and Guttering Services, McGinley Motors Donegal town, Watson Hire Donegal town, McGuinness PVC Windows and Doors Ballyshannon and Patrick McCaffrey and Sons Ltd, TJ Hughes Services Station, Cloghore, Ballyshannon. For further information, contact James McCarron on 085-7527331
|1||Jason Quigley (Finn Valley)||National Senior Champion; National Under 23 Champion|
|2||John Cassidy (Illies Golden Gloves)||National Intermediate Champion|
|3||Donna Barr (Twin Towns)||National Novices Champion|
|4||Liam Callaghan (Carndonagh)||National Youth Champion 46kgs|
|5||Thomas Mongan (Illies Golden Gloves)||National Youth Champion 50kgs|
|6||Mark McCole (Dungloe)||National Youth Champion 63kgs|
|7||Michael Gallagher (Finn Valley)||National Youth Champion 80kgs; National Cadet Champion|
|8||Lee Boyd (Convoy)||National Colleges Champion 60kgs|
|9||Steven O’Reilly (Twin Towns)||National Colleges Champion 81kgs|
|10||Shane Gillespie (Bundoran)||National Boy Champion|
|11||Lee Harkin (Illies Golden Gloves)||National Boy Champion|
|12||Eamon Sweeney (Illies Golden Gloves)||National Boy Champion|
|13||Bryan McNamee (Convoy)||National Boy Champion; National Cadet Champion|
|14||Leon Gallagher (Finn Valley)||National Boy Champion; National Cadet Champion|
|15||Stephen Bonner (Buncrana)||National Boy Champion|
|16||Jessica Clarke (Carndonagh)||National Girl Champion|
|17||Labhaoise Clarke (Carndonagh)||National Girl Champion|
|18||Austeja Auciute (Finn Valley)||National Female Youth Champion; National Female Cadet Champion|
|19||Maeve McCarron (Carrigart)||National Female Youth Champion; National Female Cadet Champion|
|20||Brian Elliot (Letterkenny)||National Cadet Champion|
|21||Brian Gallagher (Twin Towns)||Irish Army Champion|
|22||Paul Tierney (St John Bosco)||Police and Fire Games Champion|
|23||Aaron Harkin (Illies Golden Gloves)||International, Ireland v Scotland|
NEXT Saturday, February 15, an eighteen-strong Donegal team will travel to St Bridget’s BC in Kildare, the team comprising thirteen female boxers and another five males. Former St John Bosco middleweight kingpin Paddy Gallagher is working with the St Bridget’s club. Gallagher is now a coach with the Irish Elite Junior team.
Gallagher and Johnny Mulhern (Carndonagh) have been busy working on the match-making.
RAPHOE’S golden girl, Caroline Connolly, won her fourth Ulster senior title last week.
The Strabane native, who boxes out of the Raphoe ABC, was handed a walkover win in the heavyweight division. It was her fourth title at a third different weight. Connolly previously won two titles at middlweight (69kgs), one at light heavyweight (75kgs) and now heavyweight (81kgs).
A SEMINAR takes place on Sunday, February 9th, for all referees and judges. The seminar takes place in St Patrick’s Hall, Strabane at 10am. The cost is £15, including a light lunch.
THE North-West Zones for 14, 15 and 16-year olds will be staged in the Letterkenny Gym on Sunday, February 23 with the weigh-in from 9.30am to 11am, the draw is at 12noon and boxing is at 1pm.
The Ulster finals for these boxers will be staged in St Patrick’s Hall, Strabane on Saturday March 1.