Boxing legend Steve Collins given the royal treatment on his recent visit to Cork to visit venues of former glories

His three-day visit to Leeside was to mark the 25th anniversary of his world title victory at Millstreet on March 18, 1995.
Boxing legend Steve Collins given the royal treatment on his recent visit to Cork to visit venues of former glories

Conal Thomas unveiling the plaque on the boxing wall in Bishop Lucey Park honouring Steve Collins historic achievements in Cork in 1995. Picture: Doug Minihane

STEVE COLLINS, the former WBO super middleweight champion of the world, received a tremendous reception when he graced the famous sod at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday last.

This was the venue where on September 9 1995, he demolished Chris Eubank to successfully defend his world title.

This brought the curtain down on a roller coaster weekend for Collins. 

His three-day visit to Leeside was to mark the 25th anniversary of his world title victory at Millstreet on March 18, 1995.

Initially, this was planned for last year but was deferred due to the pandemic.

During half time at the Cork senior hurling final last Sunday, Collins walked unto the centre of the pitch and, when introduced, was warmly welcomed and cheered and applauded by a crowd of close to 15,000 people.

Steve Collins pictured with Pat Horgan, Leas-Chathaoirleach of the Cork GAA Executive, who presented him with an official Cork jersey on the pitch in Páirc Uí Chaoimh where Collins retained his title in his rematch with Chris Eubank in September 1995. Picture: Doug Minihane
Steve Collins pictured with Pat Horgan, Leas-Chathaoirleach of the Cork GAA Executive, who presented him with an official Cork jersey on the pitch in Páirc Uí Chaoimh where Collins retained his title in his rematch with Chris Eubank in September 1995. Picture: Doug Minihane

Collins was a special guest of the Cork County GAA Board. 

This invitation was extended by its chairman Pat Lane who said, "My father was a great boxing man, and if he were alive today there would be tears in his eyes to see Steve back in this stadium."

The weekend in Cork officially began with a visit to City Hall. 

On Friday morning Steve was formally welcomed to the city on behalf of its people by the deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Fergal Dennehy.

For Steve Collins this was a nostalgic tribute, as when he defeated Eubank for the second time in September 1995 he was invited to City Hall for a civic reception by the then Lord Mayor, the late Tim Falvey.

On Friday last, Collins was accompanied by members of his family to City Hall. 

In his address, Cllr Dennehy said that City Hall was the ancestral home of Cork boxing and that he warmly welcomed Steve to a city where he had created so many unforgettable sporting memories.

Collins responded by thanking the Lord Mayor for his welcome and hospitality.

From City Hall, it was then on to Pairc Ui Chaoimh. 

Here, Collins was accompanied by photographer Doug Minihane and a camera crew led by Gerry McMahon.

On entering the Stadium, Collins was greeted by Board official Pat Lane who presented him with the famed red jersey of Cork. 

His visit to the stadium was arranged with events manager Sinead O'Keefe.

Steve Collins, hosted by Deputy Lord Mayor Fergal Dennehy, signing the visitors book on the occasion of his visit to Cork City Hall during the 25th Anniversary Celebrations. Also included are prominent Cork boxing figures and event organisers Conal Thomas and Michael O’Brien. Picture: Doug Minihane
Steve Collins, hosted by Deputy Lord Mayor Fergal Dennehy, signing the visitors book on the occasion of his visit to Cork City Hall during the 25th Anniversary Celebrations. Also included are prominent Cork boxing figures and event organisers Conal Thomas and Michael O’Brien. Picture: Doug Minihane

In 1995 the ring was located at the centre of the pitch where on Friday last Collins stood with his arms outstretched as he smiled broadly while reflecting on that famous night following his second victory over Eubank when the cheers reverberated around the stadium," Stevee O, Stevee O, Stevee O..."

On Friday afternoon, the Celtic Warrior returned to Millstreet. 

Here, he visited the Green Glens Arena where he won the title. In Millstreet, he received a fantastic reception from the locals.

He walked in a parade through the town led by the Millstreet Pipe band. He then entered a vintage car as locals cheered and applauded.

Many of those that were there the night he beat Eubank showed up to show their appreciation. 

The parade was fronted by a huge Maxol banner which is now 26 years old but was an integral part of the promotion on the night.

He then visited the museum, which on the day displayed a shrine of Collins' memorabilia. He was then invited for refreshments to the Bush Bar, which is the boxing bar in the town.

The successful Millstreet visit was organised by former Elite Irish champion Seanie Barrett, assisted by local committee members Donie Lucey, Tom Duggan, Ted Dineen, Vanc O'Connell and David Cotter.

Later in the evening, the cavalcade stopped at Hickeys Bar in Dromahane.

Here, the former champ was welcomed by Sean Hickey who had followed Collins all over the world during his career and arranged a great night of song to end a wonderful day of celebrations.

On Saturday morning, at Bishop Lucey Park, a plaque to Steve Collins' win was unveiled by Conal Thomas.

Conal was the main organiser of the weekend's events and is an inspirational figure in the world of Cork boxing.

Ray Nugent of Suits Distributors with Irish boxing legend Steve Collins on a recent visit to Cork
Ray Nugent of Suits Distributors with Irish boxing legend Steve Collins on a recent visit to Cork

It was fitting that this man unveiled this plaque on this particular occasion.

On Saturday afternoon, Steve Collin visited the Glen Boxing club where he was welcomed by the President of the club Mick O' Sullivan and the Chairman Anthony Connolly.

Collins autographed the canvas on the ring. 

He then entered the ring and was joined by Gary "Spike" O'Sullivan and famed Glen BC coach Tom Kelleher.

On Saturday night, an outstanding banquet took place at the Kingsley Hotel. Collins was piped into the banquet hall by piper Norman O'Rourke. Immediately the crowd rose to their feet and clapped and cheered in a standing ovation.

This was a special night for Collins and his family. 

The mcee Mick O'Brien created an electric atmosphere. 

The former champion said to O'Brien that he could not believe the buzz of excitement that was flowing around the room.

And having made special presentations, he told O'Brien that he was blown away by the atmosphere. 

A full report on the night will be featured on a two-page Echo special in the near future.

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