Fr Horgan's Dave Dunlea was one of the best boxers to come out of Cork

Fr Horgan's Dave Dunlea was one of the best boxers to come out of Cork

Cork County Board Boxing president Michael O'Brien, Bernie O'Connor, Dave Dunlea, who was honoured at a Cork boxing Breakfast. Also in the picture are Paddy McSweeney and Billy Deasy.

OVER the last eight years, the Echo's boxing column's continuing success has sparked much debate and rivalry amongst many Cork boxing followers.

Northside boxing tribalism often reaches epic proportions, and many debates have taken place on a stretch from the Shandon Steeple to Blackpool's public houses.

The arguments centered on which of Cork's three longest established clubs can take credit for being the number one club.

The jury will always be the stand out question.

However, close to midnight on a Saturday evening over twenty years ago, sitting in a bar in the shadow of Shandon, the Cork County Board Timekeeper Bunny O'Hehir made a declaration and proclaimed that the Glen BC was the oldest and most famous, the Sunnyside BC was the most successful and scruples and modesty did not prevent him from announcing that his club, the Fr Horgan's BC, was the best that Leeside had produced.

Bunny was a man who shot from the hip and was always able to back up his point of view with facts and figures.

And there is no doubt in his argument that the Fr Horgan's unit is one of the real bastions of Cork boxing, having produced some outstanding athletes since its foundation in 1959.

The club was named after the parish priest Father Hogan who gave the unit the use of the new Parochial Hall which was build and opened in 1959.

The priest had no difficulty with humility and had the club named after himself.

Members of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association pictured at the breakfast including Billy Deasy and Dave Dunlea who were honoured for their ongoing contribution to Cork Boxing. Picture: Doug Minihane
Members of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association pictured at the breakfast including Billy Deasy and Dave Dunlea who were honoured for their ongoing contribution to Cork Boxing. Picture: Doug Minihane

The first Fr Horgan's tournament took place in the new clubhouse in 1959, and the entrance fee was five shillings. 

Close to a thousand people attended.

Among the well-known names who fought on the 16-bout card that night was Timmy Duncliffe (CIE BC), Louis Keneally (Glen BC), Joe Murphy (Fr Hogan's BC), Finbarr O'Leary (Glen BC), Tony O'Neill (Fr Horgan's BC), Neddie Higgins (Sunnyside BC), Bobby Feddis (CCYMS BC), John Shalloe (Kilush BC), Willie Lingane (CIE BC), David Ryan (Fr Horgan's BC) and Don Murray (Matt Talbots BC).

The club had a great foundation and a very hard-working committee during the 1960s. 

The committee included Ned Burn, Willie O'Leary, Jim Twomey, John Dineen, Tadhg O'Leary, Gerry Twomey and Christy O'Mahony.

The unit had a big catchment area that included Gurranabraher and Churchfield, produced many County champions in the early years and had three representatives on the first Cork boxing team who defeated Dublin in 1961.

The distinction of representing their club went to Tony Arnold, Paddy Gough and Dave Monaghan.

Meanwhile, following a successful decade for the unit in the 1960s, boxing in Cork went into decline. 

In 1970, Leeside had only one club, and that was Fr Hogan's who survived the wipe-out.

The year Dan O'Connell was elected Secretary of the unit. 

At this point, Dan was in the army and was working closely with Victor Aston of the Cork County Board.

For the next few years, the two army men worked hand in glove and clubs began to emerge once again. 

The Fr Horgan's club was widely acknowledged for producing a certain type of boxer.

The athletes concerned always seemed to display endurance, flair and courage. 

Once such boxer was Dave Dunlea, a quintessential athlete who demonstrated dedication and meticulous fitness. 

Only one result mattered - winning.

Dunlea did his talking in the ring. 

If a decision went against him, he would walk away and plan for the next day.

Dunlea was All-Ireland, Munster and County champion on numerous occasions and was a member of a proud boxing family who had represented the club with distinction since the 1980s.

Other family members that represented the club included the late Christy Dunlea and Tony.

The family's contribution to boxing continued into the new century, and in the year 2000 Dave Dunlea experienced his proudest day when his son Damian won a 48kg Irish title.

This was a remarkable achievement for the family and club. 

When Dave was honoured at a Cork Boxing breakfast four years ago, he won plenty of accolades. 

Board President Mick O'Brien said he epitomised Cork boxing's spirit and he and his family had left a proud legacy to the sport.

Today, Dave is an active member of the Cork ex Boxers Association. 

Other great names that represented the Fr Horgan's club will feature in future columns.

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