A MARATHON weekend of boxing was completed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday night last at the Cork County Boxing Championships.
Record entries in the Boys and Girl weight classes attracted large attendances at ringside at the Boxing Centre in Churchfield.
The venue was packed to the rafters on the first two days, with patrons enjoying high standards of competition.
Irrespective of the inclement weather which prevailed, the young athletes displayed outstanding abilities with many exciting prospects emerging from the City and County.
All boxers were well supported each day, and all affiliated clubs participated in a tournament which first saw the light of day in 1914 as an outdoor tourney in Fitzgerald's Park on Cork's famous Mardyke.
The 2020 edition of the Championships was the fifth year in succession that the tournament took place in Churchfield, a venue which has lent stability to the sport and provided a springboard for continuous success at provincial and national level.
Cork City Council, in partnership with the County Boxing Board, has given a lot of financial assistance over the intervening years and Board President Michael O'Brien publicly thanked and acknowledged the role played by the City in Churchfield last weekend.
"With the huge expansion of boxing in Cork in recent years, it is imperative that the sport has a base and the Cork Boxing Centre has proved to be an enormous success. It has provided outstanding facilities for athletes since its foundation," he said.
"Its strategic location gives all clubs easy access if they are travelling from the City and County."
Affiliated clubs come from all over Ireland's largest county. In addition to city and suburban units, the sport is promoted in Bantry, Dunmanway, Skibbereen, Charleville, Midleton and Youghal.
Last week's undertaking was a massive promotion with the Director of Cork Boxing, John Casey, remarking that he was very pleased with the overall event.
The Chief Official was the Vice President of the Board, Billy O'Sullivan of the Midleton BC. Many acknowledged the demanding nature of his task and all agreed that he did a fine job.
The Vice President was supported by an outstanding team of officials who invested tremendous service over the weekend. Mick O'Brien presented the medals. He was assisted in this capacity by Nicola Murphy, the Board's Treasurer.
O'Brien congratulated all boxers participating and thanked the officials and volunteers for the vast volume of work they had put in over the course of the weekend.
"The success of the Championships is testament to the continuous growth of boxing in the southern capital," O'Brien added.
As a progressive and inclusive sport, boxing caters for a considerable volume of female boxers in Cork. Apart from the female athletes, the sport has attracted many women who are operating as club administrators with up to ten of these women assisting the Board last weekend.
The champions were presented with a unique medal which was first introduced in 2019. This year, a special certificate was also presented to commemorate the burning of Cork 100 years ago and Cork's two esteemed Lord Mayors, Tomás Mac Curtain and Terence MacSwiney, who lost their lives in the struggle for Irish freedom.
Meanwhile, John Wiseman, secretary of the Cork Board, hailed he progress the sport is making and believes the rivalry of the athletes and clubs is very positive.
He said: "Cork boxing is continuing to regularly improve, and the goodwill that surrounds the sport is constantly growing. The rivalry amongst the clubs is tremendous and the negativity of the past has been replaced by goodwill for the future."
Some of the champions from last weekend were wearing the colours of Ireland's oldest club, the Glen BC.
Success was also enjoyed by a selection of Cork newest outfits, including the De Courcey BC in Ballinspittle and the new Cove BC who are once again making waves in the old harbour town.
The Churchfield attendances included many of Cork's former boxers and internationals including Tim O'Sullivan and Bernie O'Connor who battled the weather conditions to frequent the flagship competition of Leeside boxing.
O'Sullivan won his first County title in 1946 and said it was a joy for him to see the sport thriving. The former Irish international also paid tribute to the organisers of the event.
Another visitor to Churchfield was the newly elected North Central TD Thomas Gould. The new Deputy was warmly welcomed and congratulated on his election. He remarked that he was delighted to be with the Cork boxing fraternity on their biggest day of the year.
For many athletes, it's now on to the Munster Championships over the next couple of weeks in the build-up to the All-Ireland Series at the National Stadium.