Tuesday 20 February 2018

Boxing: ahony slams appointment of O'Rourke after Walsh gets snubbed

Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

The Irish Amateur Boxing Association is today expected to announce the appointment of its own president, Dominic O'Rourke, as their new High Performance Director.

In a remarkable move that one official last night branded "absolutely scandalous", O'Rourke has beaten head coach, Billy Walsh, to a position that -- technically -- lay dormant since Gary Keegan's departure immediately after the Beijing Olympic Games.

My understanding is that the decision has been sent to the Irish Sports Council for ratification and will be confirmed today.

Walsh was unavailable for comment last night, but others expressed disbelief at the prospect of him being overlooked for a job he has being doing in all but name for the last 20 months.

Former Dublin Board president and Central Council member Tony Mahony said: "I find it incredible. The feeling in boxing would have been that Billy should have been a shoo-in for this job since Gary left.

"Actually, it's even an absolute scandal that it's only coming up now."

Boxing's High Performance Programme has been a jewel in the crown of Irish sport since Keegan and Walsh first put a system in place in 2003.

That system reaped Olympic medals for Ken Egan, Paddy Barnes and the late Darren Sutherland in Beijing and has, since, decanted three world and two European champions.

"This is a medal machine," said an exasperated Mahony last night. "But I would very much worry for the system now. Because the job of director is about more than coaching. Billy has the knowledge of putting high performance programmes together. It's a very, very intricate job. I saw Gary Keegan putting numerous prog-rammes together and you're, essen-tially, organising the whole year.

Irish Independent

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