Conal Thomas has been a fantastic servant to Cork boxing clubs and boxers for many years now

Having hailed from Donegal and settled in Dromahane, Conal has lived on Leeside for over 40 years. 
Conal Thomas has been a fantastic servant to Cork boxing clubs and boxers for many years now

Conal Thomas, president Cork boxing fraternity who made a presentation to An Taoiseach Michéal Martin at The Glen Boxing club

DONEGAL man Conal Thomas is President of the Cork Boxing Fraternity Association.

Over the last 10 years Conal has played a very influential role in the development of Cork boxing.

Having hailed from Donegal and settled in Dromahane, Conal has lived on Leeside for over 40 years. 

As a young man boxing was a great attraction to him and with Mohammad Ali being his idol he joined the local boxing club in his hometown. 

As a juvenile boxer Conal was very successful with tremendous potential to develop within the sport, however as a young man employment was his priority.

In the early eighties work in Donegal was very scarce, many of his friends and colleagues were emigrating to Britain, the United States and all part of the world. 

Conal’s decision was to stay at home and look for work in Ireland.

Information from a friend suggested to Conal that there was a possibility of getting work in Cork. 

His father died at an early age and Conal who was living with his mother decided that Cork was only down the road and he would not be too far away. 

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
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

In 1981 Conal arrived on Leeside and commenced work with construction company repairing bridges in the Southern Capital.

Over the years Conal worked in Cork with various companies and in many capacities, he adapted to Cork like a fish to water, he found many friends amongst the Corkonians, his love of all sports eventually helped to develop a rivalry with many locals, however boxing was always his number one.

Between jobs on one occasion he applied for work with a security company, during the interview the company M.D. asked Conal a few questions, Conal answered in anxious anticipation, he was then asked had he any interest in sport? 

In one word Conal replied “Boxing”, in two words the company M.D. replied “You hired”. 

The managing director of the security firm was Dan O’Connell the celebrated and world renowned International Boxing Official. 

Conal went on to work for Dan’s company for a numbers of years, little did the two men know then that many years later that Conal like Dan before him would go on to play a leading role in the development of boxing on Leeside. 

That meeting developed a strong friendship and both Conal and Dan now meet very regularly as active participant in local boxing events in Cork. The tide of time in this case has not diminished, but only enhanced their continued interest in the sport.

While domiciled on Leeside, Conal began to settle and met Majella, they married and began to raise a family. 

Conal, however never forgot his roots and continued to travel home to see his mother and only sister Marian.

While living in the Mahon area in Cork Conal and Majella started a family, another industry presented an opportunity for Conal Thomas, the world of trees, and he also developed a friendship with a local young boxer who was christened Gary O’Sullivan but majestically traded under the name of ‘Spike.

Things started to happen very quickly for Conal, he worked very hard in a partnership company and eventually became the sole proprietor and registered as a limited company trading as Conal Tree Service Ltd.

This company began to flourish and suddenly was working nationwide with 70 employed and many prestigious clients such as the ESB etc. Simultaneously Conal became more involved in boxing. 

When Gary ‘Spike O’Sullivan turned professional Conal came in from the start as a sponsor. During ‘Spike’s very successful career which still continues Conal Thomas on many occasion provided the financial oxygen which ‘Spike needed to survive. 

Conal travelled to all his fights all over the world rejoicing in the victory and graciously embracing disappointments as part of the sport.

Lifelong boxing supporter and Cork County Boxing Board sponsor Conal Thomas, of Conals Tree Services, pictured outside Cork City Hall with Professional Boxer Gary 'Spike' O'Sullivan recently. Picture: Doug Minihane
Lifelong boxing supporter and Cork County Boxing Board sponsor Conal Thomas, of Conals Tree Services, pictured outside Cork City Hall with Professional Boxer Gary 'Spike' O'Sullivan recently. Picture: Doug Minihane

On the Cork boxing scene, through his time enthusiasm and financial support, Conal has made a gigantic contribution to the sport of boxing, while moving to live in Dromahane in Mallow, Conal continued his links with the Mahon Community. 

He was President of the Loughmahon Club when they won Cork’s most successful club of the year in 2016. He delightfully saw his daughter Shelly win four All-Ireland boxing titles. 

He became a trustee of Ireland’s oldest boxing club Club The Glen, and he made a presentation to the new Taoiseach in 20202 during his first official sporting visit to Cork.

Conal Thomas in his independent capacity as President of the Cork Boxing Fraternity Association nominated many former Cork boxers from the past and hosted a boxing breakfast in their honour. He was delighted to see Tommy Kelleher honoured in both City Hall by Cllr. Joe Kavanagh Lord Mayor and in winning the Cork Ex-Boxers Hall of Fame Award.

His greatest memories from the sport in Cork was seeing ‘Spike return with the WBO Belt’s, his daughter All Ireland glory. 

The very successful 25th anniversary celebration to mark the winning of the World Midweight Title in Cork, for Steve Collins and the amazing energies of Mick O’Brien and the late Tim O’Sullivan. 

Conal concluded the battery to match the energies of those two guys has not been manufactured yet!

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