BY CHRIS MCNULTY
NOEL McBride’s fairytale boxing comeback was completed on Friday night when the Loughanure man defeated Sean Hunt (Palmerstown) to win the 67kgs title at the National Intermediate Championships in Dublin.
McBride turns 24 today and his birthday weekend kicked off in some style.
Boxing out of the Corrib BC in Claregalway, McBride – back in the ring after a seven-year absence – was impressive as he defeated Hunt to win his second national title.
Southpaw McBride kept busy and a fire-cracking end to the first round saw him lay down the marker. With four left-right combinations, McBride left his calling card and Hunt was rattled.
McBride’s long-reaching rights were landing superbly and Hunt had little in the form of a response.
When McBride poked through to land a stiff left hand on Hunt’s right eye early in the third round, it was clear that there was no way back.
It was a stirring performance by McBride, who stepped away from the sport in 2007, a year after winning an Irish Schoolboys title.
Initially he planned to take a year out, but he has only returned this year.
McBride has been working alongside head coach Sean Commiskey at Corrib and it was somecomeback as he announced his arrival with a win in the Connacht Championships, defeating Patrick Fallon (Monivea) in the semis, before overcoming Keith Flaherty from Connemara in the final.
He took victory against Convoy’s Lee Boy in the Irish semi before claiming an impressive win over Hunt in the final on Friday, which was televised on TG4. The result shows his dominance: McBride the 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 winner in the end.
McBride fought for the first time in 1998 and his opponent was a certain Jason Quigley. Both boxers were making their debuts that evening in Jackson’s. Quigley defeated McBride twice and the pair sparred for a time before McBride drifted away from the sport.
He’s back with a bang now, though.