Photos C Dennison
Eric ‘White Lightening’ Donovan and popular Olympic silver medallist Kenny Egan attended the official opening of the new Fr Flanagan Boxing Club in Blessington last weekend.
With over 30 young boxers, the new club caters for members from Blessington, Hollywood, Donard, Lacken, Brittas and Ballymore Eustace. Located at the old boxing club on Main Street, Cllr Gerry O’Neill founder member of the club and Michael Sargent, Chair Blessington & District Forum addressed the crowds with Michael interviewing the ‘elite’ champions.
Eric Donovan spoke of how he began his boxing career aged only 7, at St Michael’s Boxing Club, Athy. The sport he claimed has given him an international career and made a man of him. Kenny Egan took little daughter Kate into the ring – and he wished the club all the best and spoke of his connections to the local clubs over the years.
There were also many national and Leinster champions from previous clubs in Blessington, Ballymore and Hollywood.
Speaking to Kildare Now, Cllr O’Neill stated they were thrilled at last Saturday’s turnout and support for the new club which is hosting its first tournament next weekend.
“We named it for Fr Flanagan, and Irish priest whose first parish in the US was coincidentally ‘O’Neill City’ in Nebraska, where he was chaplain to St Mary’s Church. He was later moved to Omaha, which is now twinned with Naas”.
The Irish man was appalled at the poverty, and the huge number of homeless boys living on the streets. He subsequently founded an orphanage in a derelict house and encouraged the sport of boxing. Over the years, he improved the facility and the University Campus in Omaha is called ‘Boys and Girls Town, and offers a superb boxing complex on campus.
“We have a fantastic number of keen and talented boxers here at Fr Flanagan’s with Head Coach Sean Murphy joined by Assistant Coach, Richie Sweetman, Bobby Gill, Mick Douglas, and great support from Treasurers Robbie Farrell and John Watson Mahon.”
Michael Gill, Vice President Leinster Boxing Club and renowned international referee spoke of the amalgamation of the Blesssington BC with Ballymore and Hollywood Club, and looked forward to the progression of many of the club’s talented boxers.
Coincidentally, at Michael’s very first time to compete in the ring, Gerry O’Neill was in his corner! “It’s a great discipline for young lads” said Michael. “And we look forward to seeing the lads compete in our first tournament next weekend, Saturday 8 at Avon Rí, Blessington”>
The lads have been training for the past five weeks under the new name, with the club packed every night with young people of all ages and ability. “Training runs on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7pm” added Michael “We are looking forward to Saturday’s event with the parade of boxers commencing at 7pm. All welcome and best wishes to all the competitors – we have boxers travelling from the UK and across Leinster to box on the night”.
Fr Flanagan first boxing club tournament – Saturday, December 8, at the Avon Rí, from 7pm; main sponsors Hudson Bros Hauliers. Adm €5.
Feature photo shows Champion Eric Donovan with locals Cian Fisher and Ciaran Doyle - see more photos in this week's Kildare Post!
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