DERRY McCarthy was presented with the Cork Ex-Boxers Association Hall of Fame Award in the final boxing event of 2020.
The presentation was made at a low-key Boxing Breakfast in the Dining Hall of the Harp Lounge three days prior to Christmas with all guests socially distanced to comply with Covid-19 regulations.
This was in every sense of the word a unique occasion. Each year since the Hall of Fame Award was first introduced by the Ex-Boxers, it has always been the prerogative of the President to select the winner for that particular year.
During the last nine months, the coronavirus has restricted much of the work undertaken by CEBA, and it was also a year when Tim O'Sullivan, the President and founding member, sadly passed away.
Five days before he died in October, the President of the County Board, Michael O'Brien and the Ex-Boxers Designate President Paddy McSweeney visited Tim at his home.
This was a sad occasion. However, in the room that morning, the boxing pride and spirit of Tim O'Sullivan was clearly evident, and he insisted on doing his duty as President and selecting the Hall of Fame winner.
At almost 93 years of age, his brain was still razor-sharp, and Tim immediately made a case for two nominees; Derry McCarthy and Christy O'Keeffe. With a smile on his face, he declared that both men were worthy recipients of the award for the year.
Tim O'Sullivan was Ireland's oldest international and the only Cork man to receive the IABA Hall of Fame Award. Up to and including the week of his death, he was both active and involved, which was the hallmark of a truly remarkable boxing man.
Prior to the presentation to Derry McCarthy's, Mick O'Brien, who acted as MC, explained to all guests that due to an essential prior commitment that Christy O'Keeffe could not be with them on the day, but his accolade, photograph and feature would come at a later date.
The CEBA Hall of Fame Award was introduced in 1977. The inaugural winner was Mick Leahy followed by Jimmy "Gunner" Murray in 1978 and the great Tommy Hyde the following year.
The CEBA founding members were Paddy Martin and Tim O'Sullivan, who were duly acknowledged in 1985 and 1986. Mick O'Brien, who has been PRO with the Ex-Boxers for the last ten years, said that it was an honour to receive this outstanding award.
"This statuette of a mounted boxer cast in bronze represents much more than a trophy. This is not just a symbol of an individual's involvement in sport but represents a lifetime of boxing service in many capacities, be that in the ring, as a coach or as a committee member, O'Brien remarked.
"This award has always been earned the hard way. Each recipient that receives this accolade will take it home and place it proudly in a prominent place. Sadly, when the day comes that this individual passes on, his boxing legacy will live on.
"And when that statuette is picked up from time to time to get the dust of a cloth that former boxing member will be fondly remembered. That is the importance of occasions such as today."
O'Brien then called on the new President of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association Paddy McSweeney to make the presentation to Derry McCarthy whom he warmly congratulated.
Following the presentation, an emotional Derry immediately paid tribute to the late Tim O'Sullivan. He cited a moment from many years ago when Tim proved to be a great friend when using his influence to secure a mortgage to buy Derry's first home.
For many years, Derry was a prominent GAA man and played both hurling and football with the Douglas club.
He enjoyed a successful boxing career and was acknowledged for giving his all in the ring.
He won many County and Munster titles and represented Munster. In 1960, he was unlucky not to get a split decision in an All-Ireland final with Eamon McCusker.
Following his retirement from the ring, Derry has been a coach, officer, administrator and committeeman with a number of clubs including the Douglas BC and Ballinlough BC.
On receiving his award, Derry McCarthy amused all when he said, "this is not an Academy Award, but it is my Oscar, and I will cherish it."