Cork rolled out the red carpet for boxing legend Steve Collins

Steve was in Cork with his wife, children and brothers as part of a three-day celebration to mark the 25th anniversary of his victories over Chris Eubank.
Cork rolled out the red carpet for boxing legend Steve Collins

Steve Collins with his wife Donna and extended family members at the plaque erected in his honour in Bishop Lucey Park. Picture: Doug Minihane

When Steve Collins slowly walked off the pitch at Pairc Ui Chaoimh recently there was a tear in the tough man's eye.

It was halftime at the Cork Senior hurling final. Collins had just been introduced to the crowd standing on the halfway line where the ring was located 26 years ago.

Fifteen thousand warmly applauded the former WBO super middleweight champion to acknowledge the cherished memories that Collins had given to the people of Cork in 1995.

Steve was in Cork with his wife, children and brothers as part of a three-day celebration to mark the 25th anniversary of his victories over Chris Eubank.

Steve Collins with Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan and legendary Glen BC coach Tom Kelleher during his visit to the famed Blackpool club as part of his Anniversary Tour. Picture: Doug Minihane
Steve Collins with Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan and legendary Glen BC coach Tom Kelleher during his visit to the famed Blackpool club as part of his Anniversary Tour. Picture: Doug Minihane

It was the perfect end to three magnificent days on Leeside, originally scheduled for last year but deferred due to the Covid pandemic.

His recent visit to Leeside saw Collins warmly welcomed by all sportspeople. In 1995 Cork sport achieved little, and Collins' success in Millstreet in March of that year and at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in September lit up the skies for the rebel reds.

Following his victory, Cork locals displayed no shame as they claimed Collins to be one of their own.

In a whirlwind of weekend activity, Collins displayed the X Factor and won the hearts of all he met.

The organisers of the event, Conal Thomas and Mick O'Brien, said they were delighted as everything went like clockwork.

Thomas said: "To see the faces of people a quarter of a century later was remarkable. Everyone who met him claimed to be at his fights and the joy and elation displayed recently suggests that Collins will always be a hero on the banks of the Lee."

Steve Collins, with curator Sean Radley, looks over memorabilia from his fights in the Green Glens Arena during his visit to the Millstreet Museum as part of his anniversary tour. Picture: Doug Minihane
Steve Collins, with curator Sean Radley, looks over memorabilia from his fights in the Green Glens Arena during his visit to the Millstreet Museum as part of his anniversary tour. Picture: Doug Minihane

His itinerary included a visit to City Hall and the Lord Mayor's office and a return to the Green Glens in Millstreet where he won the title.

He attended the unveiling of a plaque in his honour in Bishop Lucey Park and autographed the ring canvas at the Glen BC, Ireland's boxing oldest club, and was guest of honour at a banquet at the Kinglsey Hotel.

Steve Collins Cork County Boxing Board vice-president Michael O’Brien at the plaque in Bishop Lucey Park. Picture: Doug Minihane
Steve Collins Cork County Boxing Board vice-president Michael O’Brien at the plaque in Bishop Lucey Park. Picture: Doug Minihane

This was an outstanding night of entertainment. Mick O' Brien, as MC, had the hall rocking, and he ensured that all guests were fully engaged in the spirit of the occasion.

The former champ was piped into the hall by piper Norman O'Rourke. Guest speaker Alf Smiddy who played a leading role in the sponsorship of the fights, was managing director of Beamish Breweries in 1995.

He said the return of St Collins to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his wins was a magic moment for many people.

Piper Norman O’Rourke leading Collins and event organiser Conal Thomas into the dinner at the Kingsley Hotel where they were greeted by rapturous applause by all of those in attendance. Picture: Doug Minihane
Piper Norman O’Rourke leading Collins and event organiser Conal Thomas into the dinner at the Kingsley Hotel where they were greeted by rapturous applause by all of those in attendance. Picture: Doug Minihane

Alf congratulated Collins on being a great champion. 

Members of the Glen BC with Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan during the Anniversary Dinner celebrations in the Kingsley Hotel. Picture: Doug Minihane
Members of the Glen BC with Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan during the Anniversary Dinner celebrations in the Kingsley Hotel. Picture: Doug Minihane

In his reply, Steve Collins received a rousing reception when he told the people of Cork that he loved them, and while he may live elsewhere today, he was delighted to come back to Leeside and say "thank you, Cork."

Steve Collins pictured with old friend Gordon Joyce of Sunnyside BC. Gordons brother fought, and beat, Collins in his amateur days and both families have remained firm friends for over thirty years. Picture: Doug Minihane
Steve Collins pictured with old friend Gordon Joyce of Sunnyside BC. Gordons brother fought, and beat, Collins in his amateur days and both families have remained firm friends for over thirty years. Picture: Doug Minihane

Staff from Heineken Ireland and Beamish & Crawfords, main sponsors of the Collins Eubank rematch in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, with Steve Collins during the anniversary celebration dinner at the Kingsley Hotel. Picture: Doug Minihane
Staff from Heineken Ireland and Beamish & Crawfords, main sponsors of the Collins Eubank rematch in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, with Steve Collins during the anniversary celebration dinner at the Kingsley Hotel. Picture: Doug Minihane

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