Wednesday 7 December 2016

Sports Council give IABA 24 hours to solve Walsh crisis

Michael Verney

Published 21/10/2015 | 02:30

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
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

Chairman of the Irish Sports Council Kieran Mulvey has raised the heat on the IABA by calling on the association to perform a u-turn and offer Billy Walsh a deal to stay on as head coach of Irish boxing's High Performance Unit 'within the next 24 hours'.

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Mulvey said the IABA would have to reconsider their position or Sport Ireland would be reviewing their funding relationship with the association.

"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," said Mulvey on RTE's Prime Time last night.

"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.

Irish Independent

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