With the heroics of John Joe Nevin and Katie Taylor during this summer’s London Olympics capturing the imagination of the Irish public young and old, boxing in this country is currently on the crest of a wave. Across the nation, people of all ages are getting involved and the number of individuals, young people in particular are taking a keen interest in one of the most physically demanding sports in existence.
County Longford is no different and years after the Connolly Boxing Club, which ran out of the barracks of the same name was shut down, nine local men who were involved as coaches with the club during its heyday have taken it upon themselves to resurrect the old club, this time from Little Water Street in the town.
The duo spearheading this project are locals Harry McKenna and John Killane. “There should always be boxing in Longford”, says Harry. “Most of the lads involved (in the new club) are former coaches and were involved in the 70s and 80s.” Having witnessed the new found affection for the sport in the county, Harry felt that now was the time to act. “I was meeting young lads on the street and they were asking me will the club ever come back. We had to do something about it so we did and the reaction we’ve got has been very good and it’s great to see.”
There’s an appetite out there for the sport with John Joe (Nevin) and Katie (Taylor) doing so well and now it’s time to harvest that appetite and make the most of it.”
Harry also spoke of his delight at the reaction from local women who want to take part and follow in the footsteps of Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor. “There has also been a great reaction from girls and young women who want to box and even the over 40s who see it a great way to keep fit, which it is.” Interest in the sport across Longford has also filtered down to the very young in the region. “We’ve had requests for kids as young as 7 and 8-years-old to take part, but unfortunately a child must be at least 11 to fight. But we are looking at ways of getting children that young involved.”
The club runs under the badge of the Offaly Boxing Board along with 14 other establishments of its kind. Boxers from the Connolly’s club who show promise will compete in the upcoming Offaly Championship which takes place in January 2013. The club is also seeking sponsorship from local businesses in Longford town, county and the surrounding areas and Harry has appealed for anyone who is interested to come forward. “We are looking for sponsorship to help out with the running of things, so if anyone around the town or county is willing that would be fantastic.”
Connolly’s Boxing club held their first registration evening late last month and held their first training sessions shortly after. Training continues to take place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7pm to 9pm. Everyone is welcome to come along and take part, contact Harry on 086-4519618 or John on 085-7618812 for further details on registration.