THE Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Joe Kavanagh hosted a historic boxing occasion at City Hall recently.
Leeside's first citizen, accompanied by the Lady Mayoress, welcomed a delegation from Irish amateur boxing to facilitate an exceptional presentation.
The Covid-19 restrictions prevented an attendance of what would have been well over one hundred guests. Consequently, the event was reduced to a maximum of four visitors.
The presentation was made to the 2018 Irish Elite bantamweight champion Thomas McCarthy, who was accompanied by his coach John Morrissey, the President of the Cork Board Michael O'Brien and the IABA President Dom O'Rourke.
On Saturday, February 24 2018, McCarthy entered the ring at Dublin's National Stadium in search of his first Elite belt.
Following a close contest with Dublin's Evan Metcalfe, McCarthy came out on the wrong side of a 3-2 split decision.
The full report on this bout was carried on a recent Boxing Page on the Echo last month.
The original decision was subsequently overturned, and McCarthy was belatedly declared the champion.
In recognition of this, he was last week presented with his All-Ireland medal, cup and certificate at City Hall.
The medal presentation was performed by Dom O'Rourke who travelled from Kildare to do the honours.
He congratulated McCarthy and said he was a very talented boxer whom he understood was currently taking time out from the sport.
O'Rourke encouraged him to return, saying that in his opinion that the champion would make a significant impact at national and international level.
The President of the Cork Board congratulated McCarthy saying that he had now completed the grand slam of national titles. These include Underage, Juvenile, Senior and Elite.
O'Brien paid tribute to his coach John Morrissey who he said assisted McCarthy to bridge a sixteen-year gap and for this alone Cork boxing owed a depth of gratitude to both men.
"Due to Covid-19 restrictions, only four people could attend this very special night," said O'Brien. "I wish also to acknowledge the contribution of the other coaches at the Setanta BC who also worked with McCarthy."
Here he referenced the work of Edwin Healy, and Lee Morrissey whom he said must be warmly congratulated for the part they played in the success.
The Cork chief thanked the Lord Mayor for hosting the celebration, adding that the return to Cork of an Elite belt is a magnificent achievement.
O'Brien pointed out that for nearly twenty years, Cork male boxing was in the wilderness at this level. The last male Elite title came to the Southern Capital was in 2002, courtesy of Eanna Falvey of the St Colman's BC.
O'Brien was also delighted to highlight that in the last three years Christina Desmond (Fr Horgan's BC/Garda BC) brought three Elite titles to Cork.
"McCarthy's success has made it four in as many years," added O'Brien. "Over the last five years, Cork boxing has enjoyed a marvellous period of success after winning over thirty All-Ireland titles at all levels each year."
"Male and female boxing at underage level is flourishing, and now male and female Elite titles have been claimed in the same year."
Meanwhile, as part of plans for the new Boxing Wall in Bishop Lucey Park following renovations in the new year, a new plaque will be erected to honour Cork's Elite champions down through the years.
These will include such legendary names as Paddy Buckley, Tommy Hyde, Gunner Murray, Neilie Dunne, Billy Walsh, Seanie Barrett, Kieran Joyce, Paul Buttimer, Gordon Joyce, Michael Roche, Christina Desmond and Thomas McCarthy and more.
Meantime, on the night of the presentation to McCarthy, a presentation was made to Johnn Morrissey, while a representation was also made by the Cork County Board to Dom O'Rourke to mark his first official visit to City Hall in 2020 which is a select year in the history of Cork.
The mark the occasion the Lord Mayor presented all his guests with a specially commissioned Cork 2020 Centenary medal.
The Lord Mayor said: "Cork boxing is part of the DNA of City Hall since 1936 and Cork's boxers have done the city proud over many years.
The Lord Mayor noted that Cork boxing has done a tremendous job with little or no funding down through the years and said he would write to the Taoiseach Michael Martin immediately to encourage him to fully appreciated what had been achieved by Cork Boxers, coaches, clubs and administrators in recent times.
The Cork President thanked the Lord Mayor for his words on a night of celebration for the sport on Leeside.