Amateur boxing: International success doesn't come cheap . . .
This year has been another sensational one for Irish amateur boxing. "Our boxers won medals in every World and European tournament they competed in this year," says IABA president Tommy Murphy. "And in five tournaments, an Irish boxer won the Best Boxer Award."
"And this is across all grades," stresses Murphy. "From schoolboys, youths, girls up to the elite seniors."
But success doesn't come cheap. And Tommy Murphy sounds a worrying note. "We have some wonderful talent coming through the ranks, but we're struggling to maintain the levels of achievement because funding is tight," he concedes. This is a point head coach Billy Walsh (pictured) makes separately.
"There's an air of complacency about our boxers' achievements now," he says. "People don't realise how difficult it is to be successful operating at the top end. Often, the year after the Olympics is a bit of a down period, but we came in under the radar and, in the European finals, we got four lads to the finals, which earned us two golds and two silver. We're breaking our own records."
"From the World Championships in Kazakhstan, we brought home two medals for the first time," adds Billy. "Irish amateur boxing gives great value for money in terms of the success we've been having. But to fully develop the pool of talent that's there, we desperately require funding. We have no regional centres of excellence. Everyone is doing the best they can, but the structures are creaking."
Six Irish boxers -- Katie Taylor, Jason Quigley, Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, Joe Ward and Tommy McCarthy -- finish the year in the top ten in the world rankings.
"I don't like complaining," says Tommy Murphy. "But we only have two sponsors and it's expensive sending teams to tournaments abroad.
"No officer of the IABA gets expenses. It's all voluntary. We may have to cut back on some tournaments, but that would be disastrous for the development of Irish boxers who are targeting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. To plan ahead, we need proper funding."