Aghada GAA Club News

28 January, 2014

Brawl off the Ball

As Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons sang – Oh What a night!
Nearly a thousand people from Aghada and Cloyne descended on the Radisson Hotel in Little Island on Friday night last, to watch representatives of their clubs go toe to toe in an historic first every white collar boxing tournament which was aptly entitled – The brawl off the ball.
No one left disappointed as for 4 hours solid they were entertained by the music, glitz, glamour, spectacular entrances and of course the boxing bouts themselves. It was nonstop entertainment. It started the moment Aghada’s 1st pugilist Heidi McCarthy came into the ring to the sound of – I’m a Barbie Girl. Dressed as such, and arm in arm with a not so handsome and chiselled “Ken”. It ended with Pearse O’Neill being pulled in on a chariot by Willie O’Donoghue (once again proving that he’s a horse of a man!!). In between we had almost every entrance any boxing promoter could ever have dreamed up. We had buzz lightyear, nuns, aerobics, Benny Deady in drag, priests, Mexicans, and Hannibal Lector being led in by police. We had Ann Marie and her Abba entourage. If someone had said that Ger O’Keeffe and Kevin O’Connell would appear in a boxing ring against Cloyne, would anyone have ever imagined that they would be wearing gold glittering disco shirts and dancing to an Abba classic - Waterloo!! And all that is just a small taste of the craic and showmanship that was on offer for the night.
As for when the bell sounded and it was seconds out, well that was spectacular too. Maybe not too many candidates for Billy Walsh’s high performance Irish Boxing team, but no lack of guts, determination, and plenty punches thrown to boot! All in the right spirit of course and the respect between the fighters from both camps was evident throughout. In the scheme of things it really didn’t matter, but for those who were keeping tabs on the bragging rights, Anthony Connolly’s fight was a pivotal moment. Word had long since leaked out that his opponent was regarded by everyone in both camps as by far the best pound for pound fighter that had signed up for this event. Anthony couldn’t win, but could put on his best show. This is the part where you might normally throw out the cliché – Anthony didn’t read the script. However the opposite is actually true as Anthony had read the script closer than anyone else. You see, this wasn’t called “boxing off the ball“ it was “brawl off the ball” and if he couldn’t win a boxing match, he was sure as hell going to back himself in a brawl. 3 rounds of a titanic battle later and after lots of man handling, wrestling, fellows been thrown through the ropes and ya, a bit of boxing as well, Psycho Connolly’s hand was held aloft victorious by the referee and the Aghada contingent went wild. Inspired by this, our two heavyweights Johno and Pearse followed suit with two more wins and the Aghada crowd went home as high as legally possible!
All 30 fighters from both clubs on the night were real heroes. As well as the 3 lads mentioned above, Aghada had Heidi “Barbie” McCarthy with the daunting task of being 1st in. Aiden O’Connell and Alan Hennessy fought each other and literally punched themselves to a standstill in a drawn contest. Eileen Triggs didn’t take a single backward step in her bout. Tim Hartnett scored the only knock down of the night, much to his fans delight. Ann Marie McAllister miraculously stopped talking long enough to show her considerable skills in the squared circle. (We should keep her gum shield for the future!). Kane Looney, Ronan Kennedy and Ken O’Gorman stood out as looking like they had a bit of real boxing know how to go with the guts and bravery. Robbie Steele was like a John Deere, he was going to roll over his opponent no matter what. Then we had two of our ladies fighting each other as well – Carol O’Leary versus Katie Sloane. Oh my god, what a shamoz!. I don’t think any one of the male boxers would have fancied being in the ring with either of those scrappers. Another draw.
Just think about what these guys did for the good of the club, and you’ll realise that in the end, the fact that some fighters won and some lost was insignificant. They all had to sell their share of tickets for the event. They had to knock on doors to get individually sponsored by local business people and companies. They had to come up with music and a theme for their entrance. For this they bought specially designed Tee shirts and costumes etc. They had to travel to Midleton, 2 nights a week for 3 months for gruelling training sessions, and most of all they had to stand alone in the ring and be willing to take it on the chin for their club. It would have been a poor trial of the rest of us, if we couldn’t have gone up there to support them after all that. So it was great to see such a big crowd, and everyone went home, knowing a great night would live long in the memory.
Sincere gratitude to Wiser Bins who were the very generous overall sponsor of the night. Thanks as well to all the local businesses that sponsored each individual boxer.
Thanks also to Mick O’Neill, Jimmy Leary and the finance committee plus their counterparts in Cloyne for organising such a brilliant night. Thanks to all who helped out in anyway, from stewarding to ticket sellers etc, etc, etc. Thanks to the Radisson hotel and their team for fantastic facilities. And finally a big thanks to Cathal O’Grady, Gerry Sheehan, Seanie Barrett and all at Whitecollarboxing.ie, who really put on a truly top class extravagant event.
Brawl off the ball II - The Revenge. Anyone??