Monday 5 December 2016

'Imagine Joe Schmidt being told what to do' - Kieran Mulvey attacks IABA at Dail hearing

Philip Ryan and Michael Verney

Published 21/10/2015 | 07:43

Kieran Mulvey
Kieran Mulvey
Billy Walsh's time at the IABA's High Performance Unit saw great success for Irish boxers
Billy Walsh: 'We are moving in to our 14th year together as a team and I can say that, while there were many difficult and challenging times, I have never done anything in my professional life more rewarding'

Chairman of the Irish Sports Council Kieran Mulvey says the sporting body has a "serious problem" with individuals leading the IABA and hasn't given up hope of persuading Billy Walsh of performing u-turn.

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Mulvey has said he will carry out a review of State funding paid to the Irish Amateur Booking Association (IABA) following the shock departure of Walsh.

Speaking at an Oireachtas Sports Committee meeting, Mr Mulvey said he will also review IABA chief executive Fergal Carruth’s role in the events that led to Mr Walsh’s decision to step down a year out form the Rio Olympics.

“I will come back within the week and see how our funding is given and establish from the latest set of accounts how it is spent,” he said.

“We pay the chief executive, we pay other administrative staff and I’m not happy. I’m not happy how the chief executive has performed on this matter and I’m saying it bluntly here and that will be reviewed,” he added.

Mr Mulvey said IABA president Pat Ryan told Sports Minister Paschal Donohoe last week that the internal disputes over selecting boxers “would be sorted”.

Billy Walsh: 'We are moving in to our 14th year together as a team and I can say that, while there were many difficult and challenging times, I have never done anything in my professional life more rewarding'
Billy Walsh: 'We are moving in to our 14th year together as a team and I can say that, while there were many difficult and challenging times, I have never done anything in my professional life more rewarding'

“Do they want him or do they not and it appear to me they do not,” he added.

Mr Mulvey said it was “unconscionable and unacceptable” that Mr Walsh would have to contact the board before selecting his team.

“Imagine Joe Schmidt being told he had to contact Philip Browne (IRFU chief executive) every time he selected a team or made a decision or talked to the media,” he said.

"Gross disrespect has been shown to us and to the minister on this matter. And it can't go on. [IABA] are a totally funded body," he added morning.

Mulvey added the Irish Sports Council has a "serious problem" with members of the IABA in light of the controversial departure, but hasn't given up hope entirely that the decorated coach could be persuaded to reveres his decision.

"I don't give up until the fat lady sings."

Zaur Antia, left, Billy Walsh
Zaur Antia, left, Billy Walsh

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Last night Mulvey raised the heat on the IABA by calling on the association to offer Walsh a deal to stay on as head coach of Irish boxing's High Performance Unit 'within the next 24 hours'.

Speaking last night on Prime Time, Mulvey appeared to deliver an ultimatum to the under fire body.

"My view now is that deal should be offered to Billy even at this late date and give up the nonsense that's going on now in the IABA about this," he said.

"I'm effectively saying when the new funding round for 2016 comes up, we will have to review our relationship with the IABA."

Walsh resigned from his position on Monday and is expected to fly out to America tomorrow to take up a new position with the US boxing association, and Mulvey has called on the IABA to take swift action.

"I want a rethink within the next 24 hours by the IABA of their total approach to this and their acceptance of the agreement we put to them on the 22nd August.

"I assume there's a number of great coaches in Ireland, except we have the best coach in the world in Ireland in boxing; his record stands for itself and he should be allowed the freedom and opportunity to continue to do a job.

"Billy Walsh gave up in frustration. All you have to hear is his statement of a man who does not want to go America but is being forced by the petty indignities he was facing in this country."

Meanwhile, Darren O'Neill described the "eerie experience" at yesterday's training sessions at the National Stadium as the High Performance Unit assembled for the first time without their inspirational coach Billy Walsh.

The Kilkenny heavyweight spoke of a "daunting" journey to the gym knowing Walsh would not be present, and highlighted the unusual feeling around the building.

A surprise appearance by Walsh between sessions to collect his belongings made the ordeal even harder for O'Neill and his team-mates to come to terms with.

"It's the first time I've been in there in 13 years that Billy Walsh wasn't there. And then he collected his stuff in between the sessions, it was just weird," O'Neill said on RTE 2FM's Game On show last night.

"I was there when Billy was interviewed for the job and he had to train a few of us in the ring. Then, I was there on his last day. It's a hard one to get your head around, you go from angry to upset."

O'Neill admitted it wouldn't be the same without Walsh in his corner and said the Wexford man's text to the entire squad in advance of his official announcement highlighted his class. With just over nine months to the Rio Olympics, Walsh's loss is a huge dent to Irish confidence as they bid to build on the four medals won in London.

"It's a very testing time for us. He had a mantra of 'five to one' and our goal was to become the leading boxing nation at the Olympics," he said.

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