Sunday 19 November 2017

Sport Ireland slashes IABA funding by €200,000 and calls for appointment of High Performance Director

Katie Taylor failed to medal in Rio
Katie Taylor failed to medal in Rio Newsdesk Newsdesk

Sport Ireland has reacted to boxing's poor showing at the Rio Games by cutting the IABA's funding by €200,000 to €700,000.

Today's Sport Ireland review claimed there was a fundamental weaknesses in the High Performance setup and that was the main reason behind the poor showing in Rio.

Eight fighters, Ireland largest ever contingent, qualified for Brazil but failed to make an impact at the tournament, despite a lot of pre-Games hype.

Much of the cut in funding is due to the fact that Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan have left the amateur ranks.

The number of boxers receiving individual grants has fallen from 14 last year to six in 2017 with Joe Ward the only boxer receiving the 'podium' level grant of €40,000..

In the Executive Summary of the performance of the IABA, the report reads: "Was this a blip in an otherwise outstanding success story or was the Rio result symptomatic of underlying failings in the High Performance programme? The answer is unequivocally the latter. There are fundamental weaknesses that have been exposed by the Rio outcome."

The report said that blaming the departure of Billy Walsh, questionable judging decisions, Michael O'Reilly's failed drug test and loss of confidence would "mask the real root causes".

"There is no question that the loss of the Head Coach to the programme was a major blow and was, in our opinion, a factor in the subsequent outcome in Rio. However, the fault lines in the programme were present well before his departure," the report added.

"Also, at least one of the Irish boxers was defeated, in the view of most neutral observers, in a bizarre judging verdict. Again to allow this become part of the narrative distracts from the core reasons."

The report added: "In reality, since the departure of Gary Keegan in 2008 the High Performance Programme has struggled with fundamental flaws in the leadership structure. The absence of a full time High Performance Director for Ireland’s most successful sports programme is unacceptable."

The recommendations made by the report for the IABA included the appointment of an experienced and qualified High Performance Director to lead the programme, separate to the role of Head Coach and a formalising of a boxer code of conduct and commitment to a ‘back to basics’ philosophy to re-establish a strong high performance culture and set of behaviours across the programme.

The big winners from the Sport Ireland review are rowing and sailing following the medal winning heroics of the O'Donovan brothers and Annalise Murphy.

Their governing bodies have seen increases of €125,000 and €120,000 respectively, after both delivered silver medals last August.

Sport Ireland will invest €7.2m into High Performance Programmes in 2017, along with €1.8m in direct athlete investment through the International Carding Scheme.

In total, Sport Ireland will invest €10.8m in 58 National Governing Bodies through the Core Grant Allocations which covers administration, participation programmes, coach development, hosting events, implementing strategic plans and the employment of professional staff.

€600,000 will be invested in 26 NGBs through Women in Sport programme, which aims to raise the overall physical activity levels among women and to support women’s roles within sports organisations.

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