The Riverside Park Hotel provided the setting for an occasion of sporting drama and high emotion by the Slaney.
Friday night was fight night as the fire service took on the Gardaí in the 'Blue Light' challenge. The occasion was organised by the Tracy family from Oulart in aid of Guide Dogs for the Disabled.
The occasion certainly packed a punch in the ring and also landed a knockout financial blow, to the tune of €25,000. The money will be used by GDD to train their canny canines, with young Lauryn Tracy, who has cerebral palsy, among those set to benefit.
She and her labradoodle Graham were in the crowd that thronged the hotel for the boxing. She was joined by her brother Brandon, parents Leona and Gavin, and her grandparents as Wexford rallied to the cause.
'It exceeded all my expectations,' admitted Gavin Tracy, a serving Garda who was greatly moved and encouraged by the support shown. Each bout was fought with noisy encouragement from a packed function room at the Riverside. And pictures from ringside were beamed on to a screen in the hotel reception for those who were left outside. Everyone who took part spent four month in stiff training for the big night before ducking under the ropes.
It is estimated that the cost of training each guide dog is around €15,000. Still a pup, Graham has already begun a period of 'socialisation' with the Tracys in Oulart. In the new year, he is due to go to Cork for six months of intense training so that he will be able to assist five year old Lauryn become more independent. Not only will he help her to walk, but he will also switch on lights and even empty the washing machine. 'Lauryn and many other kids like her are provided with the tools necessary to help them live the life that they deserve,' explained Gavin Tracy in the fight night programme.
The firemen and women had the better of the fights in the ring but the GDD cause was the real winner. Garda Tracy indicated that it was too soon yet to say whether another such sporting clash will be staged next year.