THIS particular boxer had God in his corner. Well-known Co Donegal priest Fr Damian McGroarty agreed to take part in a charity white-collar boxing event over the weekend to help raise almost €700,000 needed for renovation funds on St Eunan's Cathedral in Letterkenny.
Fr McGroarty, originally from the Fanad Peninsula, showed he was able to punch above his weight as he swapped blows with Liam Gordon in a no-holds-barred encounter at the Clanree Hotel in Letterkenny on Saturday night.
Before getting into the ring, the recently ordained priest admitted he had been training.
He cut out junk food and trained at least twice a week, losing 6kg in the process.
"I was involved in athletics when I was younger so I liked to keep fit. But the boxing training got me into good shape," he said. "I cut out junk food. . . and it was great to get a few tips from some of the lads at the Letterkenny Boxing Club. I really enjoyed it."
Before the bruising encounter, TV3's Noel Cunningham, MC for the night, warned Mr Gordon to watch out for the punching priest. "He'd better be careful the next time he goes to Mass to get communion that he doesn't get an upper cut instead," he said.
Fr McGroarty admitted some people might have been surprised to see a priest stepping into the 'squared circle'.
"I suppose some people might have raised an eyebrow at a priest getting involved in a boxing match but it's only a bit of fun and it's good that someone from the church is right at the centre of the fundraising," he said.
In the end, the referee declared the contest a draw.
A capacity crowd of almost 700 attended the event, with former TD and local GP Jim McDaid on hand to oversee the boxers' welfare on the night.