LEESIDE boxing chief Mick O'Brien quite literally had the tables turned on him at the Commons Inn on Saturday morning last.
Unbeknown to himself, the President of the Cork Board was a guest of honour at a Cork Boxing Breakfast.
O'Brien arrived at the venue believing he was due to launch the International Friends of Cork Boxing campaign. He was wrong.
Close to 100 guests attended from all parts of the country to pay tribute to a man whom former Munster and County Board President and keynote speaker Dan O'Connell described as an inspiration.
The attendance included Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin who amazed many with his presence as he had to attend four by-election count centres that day.
The permanent Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Fergal Dennehy, Olympic champion Michael Carruth, the President of the IABA Dom O'Rourke and the CEO of the IABA Fergal Carruth were also in situ.
Jim O'Sullivan, a ten-time Elite champion, World middleweight contender Gary 'Spike' O'Sullivan, Gordon Joyce, the youngest ever Irish Elite champion and Don Murray, the only man to win Junior/Elite titles in the same year, converged at ringside.
The Secretary of the Munster Council Dave O'Brien, sponsor Conal Thomas, the Chairman of the Cork Indoor Sports Committee Tim Harte, the oldest living boxing international in the realm, Tim O'Sullivan, were there with long-time administrator with the County Board, the popular Mick Devanem who'll soon celebrate his 90th birthday.
Members of the Cork Ex Boxers Association and representatives of many clubs from the city and county were in attendance, along with the Wexford Ex Boxer Association. The former Secretary of the Munster Council, Francis Keeling, was MC for the day.
Observing the gathering, the Cork Board President had no option but sit and listen to speaker after speaker acknowledging his various contributions.
Michael Martin said that O'Brien had completely re-energised the sport on Leeside and quoted various instances of his ability as a man of vision who motivated people to take pride in Cork boxing.
He mentioned that he and others often reflected on the events organised by O'Brien over the last five years and out of sheer admiration insisted he could not, under any circumstances, miss an occasion such as this.
Cllr. Dennehy observed that O'Brien had utterly changed the face of Cork boxing for the better. "His organisation skills are second to none," he stressed.
"What I would like people to note is that apart from boxing Mick has been a friend to many and the work he has completed on behalf of people behind the scenes and unrelated to boxing is genuinely remarkable.
"In recognition of this, I'm making him a presentation of a sterling silver Cork Coat of Arms Crest." The President of the IABA Dom O'Rourke recorded that O'Brien had done an exceptional job on behalf of Ireland's most successful Olympic sport.
"In addition to this exemplary work in Cork he has contributed to the sport at national level," said O'Rourke who believes that every County Board in the country should adopt O'Brien's ideas and innovations.
"I'm looking forward to welcoming him to Dublin again this year to act as MC at our National Awards in January." Fergal Carruth saluted O'Brien's endeavours.
"At crucial times concerning national issues in recent years, he has been the voice of reason and has made a significant contribution to the unification of the organisation at all levels, he said.
"From time to time, I would ring him as I valued his opinion and listened to the advice he had to offer."
Following the breakfast, Derry McCarthy and Cyril "The Bird" Kavanagh regaled the audience with music and song.
Jim O'Sullivan then made a presentation of a Wexford clock to O'Brien to thank him on behalf of the Wexford Ex Boxers and for helping to set up that particular Association.
O'Sullivan's accolade was followed by a keynote speech by former international and world respected coach and referee and judge Dan O'Connell.
He highlighted a long list of innovations introduced by O'Brien. He remarked that "when I look around this packed room this morning and see the guests here today I can only say "Mick, you've got some pulling power, boy."
Citing numerous examples and turning to O'Brien, O'Connell continued: "I admire your ability to communicate, motivate, innovate and lead. Your enthusiasm instantly infected me and my passion for the sport has been revitalised.
"Well done, boy, you're one of our own," O'Connell concluded before the room rose for a prolonged standing ovation.
O'Brien thanked all who travelled long distances and acknowledged the committee for the tremendous amount of work they put into creating a memory he will always cherish.
The morning concluded with the presentation of WBO belt, signed by Michael Carruth, Steve Collins and Gary "Spike" O'Sullivan, to O'Brien.
Conal Thomas, the sponsor of a remarkable occasion, presented the belt.