On Saturday night in Kilmacow Community Hall, or arena as it will become, a dozen young, fit, highly trained, focussed and dedicated hurlers from the Kilmacow GAA club will step into a boxing ring where they will try to leather - no pun intended - the living daylights out of another dozen young, fit trained and so hurlers from neighbouring Mullinavat.
The object of the exercise is two-fold. Firstly, the respective clubs hope to make a stack of badly-needed funding. Secondly, they have worked extremely hard in the hope that they will be able to provide a special night of entertainment, and that all who donate their €20 for an admission ticket will get full value for money.
The ‘Brawl in the Hall’, otherwise known as a ‘Border War’, has aroused great curiosity and discussion down South.
How to generate funds
We met the PRO for the Kilmacow club, James O’Neill, and he told us that the idea was really the brainchild of their Finance Committee, who were charged to investigate ways of generating funding for their cash-strapped outfit.
“Paddy O’Keeffe offered that he would investigate the possibility of organising a boxing ‘tournament’ with the White Collar Boxing Company, who are Dublin based, but who specialise in this kind of event,” he said as a lead in to the story.
“Paddy had seen it in action with the Waterford hurlers last year, and he felt that it would be a novel way of giving people value for money. So he approached the White Collar people, who were very enthusiastic, particularly when they saw our Community Hall.
“Paddy then went to see his good friend Willie O’Dwyer in Mullinavat, and between the two of them we arrived at what we have arranged on March 10.”
Make no mistake about this enterprising and innovative way of raising funds, both clubs have embraced it with gusto.
White Collar Boxing provides all the equipment, complete with a boxing assessor, ring, sound equipment, MC, bell, timekeeper and so on. All the boxers involved must have taken part in a month-long coaching programme, under the direction of a bona fide coach.
Opponents carefully matched
The Paulstown boxing club has been most helpful in this regard, making their training facilities available to both clubs.
“All opponents will be carefully matched in weight, height and demeanour,” James O’Neill explained. “They will have been observed during the training, and will be assessed by the coaches before a glove is laced. The banter is terrific in anticipation of a great night’s entertainment.
“This in not a fancy dress, novelty effort. The boxers will subscribe to the official Queensbury Rules of boxing, wearing the usual protective garb and using the 12 ounce gloves. There will be no winner or loser. There are no prizes. There will be no scorekeeping, and they will box three one-minute rounds.”
Speaking to the secretary of Mullinavat GAA club, Paddy Rohan, he was well pleased with the response to date to the venture. ”I must say that the response has far out-reached my expectations,” Paddy admitted. “The generosity of our sponsors has been outstanding, and as James O’Neill said at a recent meeting, it is good to give people something for their hand-out. We are not just taking something without some return to our supporters.
“This idea has created terrific interest in the parish. I feel that everybody will have a great night. We will have all the razzmatazz of the Rocky type fights, with each boxer coming in to the ring with his own manager, his own music, the dry ice, the flashing lights and all of that, which should lend a huge atmosphere to the evening.
“I think the night will be a sell-out. There are very few tickets left in Mullinavat. The contestants have given a huge commitment to the idea, and their training has been awesome. The lads doing the training are practically fit to play hurling in the championship at the moment.
“They did twice weekly physical training in the gym, and an entire Saturday learning/perfecting their boxing skills.
“It will be interesting, and serious enough. Whilst there will be no winners or losers, I can assure everyone that personal pride will be an important motivational factor on the night.”
I can’t wait to get down there.
The line has been drawn in the sand. On Saturday, that line will be crossed with the call — SECONDS OUT, ROUND ONE.