BY CHRIS MCNULTY
LOUGHANURE man Noel McBride holds a unique place in the narrative of professional boxing ace Jason Quigley – but the former St Mary’s Annagry puncher is hoping to land a title of his own on Friday night in Dublin.
McBride takes on Sean Hunt from Palmerstown in Dublin in the 67kgs final of the National Intermediate Championships at the National Stadium. McBride has just got back on the canvas this year after a seven-year break from the sport.
Back in 1998, the seven-year-old McBride crossed the ropes for the first time in a competitive fight. Across in the red corner was the home boxer at Jackson’s Hotel in Ballybofey who was also making his bow in the sweet science.
When the scores were totted that evening, the hand of the baby-faced Quigley was hoisted for the first time.
“We fought twice back in those days, both of them in Jackson’s, and Jason beat me the twice,” McBride says now as he bids for national glory this week.
“We became good mates since and we were sparring partners for a long time growing up. That’s a long time ago; there’s been some change since then.”
McBride won an Irish Schoolboys title in 2006, but he stepped away the following year after losing in a semi-final. He planned to take a year out, but ended up without the gloves for seven years. Until this year when he ventured to the Corrib Boxing Club.
“I actually just went back in to keep fit, but I was entered in the Connacht Championships and ended up winning them, so here I am,” McBride says.
He’s based these days in Claregalway and signed up to Corrib BC, the newly-formed club. McBride has been working alongside head coach Sean Commiskey and it was some return to action for McBride, who will turn 24 on Monday. He defeated Patrick Fallon (Monivea) in the semis, before overcoming Keith Flaherty from Connemara in the final.
He says: “I always knew that I’d be back in the ring at some stage, but then as the years go on you begin to wonder. It’s definitely easier to get out of it than to get into it. Getting back in the door was half the battle. The wee push out the door to go to the gym was the biggest thing to get going.
“I’m enjoying it again and I’m always learning new things.”
Last weekend, McBride defeated Convoy ABC’s Lee Boyd in the semi-final with Boyd having to retire in the first round because of a cut on his eye, sustained against Richie Hedderman in the quarter-final. McBride now goes for the perfect return when he squares up to Hunt, who defeated Kevin Loonam in his semi-final.
McBride says: “I just came in to see how this would go and everything has gone my way so far. I don’t know much about the guy for the final because I’ve been out of the game for so long, but I’ll give him a rattle anyway. I’ll be back next year again whatever way it goes.”