With the Andy Lee world title defence on the horizon, but not bloody close enough. David O’Connor caught up with Shane Daly, (seen on the left of the photo) head trainer at St Saviour’s boxing club to pick his brain about all things boxing.
Right, let’s break you into it nice and gently, tell me a bit about your background in boxing.
I started boxing when I was ten in St. Francis ABC and things went on from there. I eventually became a coach in St Francis and went on to start my own club, Our Lady of Lourdes/St Saviour’s in 2003.
What was it that drew you into boxing?
I just liked it. I just started watching it on the TV. I remember it used to be on TV on Saturday mornings. I wasn’t really into soccer then, it was just boxing. One day my father just brought me down to the door and left me there and that was it! I met Paul Mangan down there and after a while I met Seamus Moore and they both trained me. So I just enjoyed, boxing is great. It’s a great way to keep out of trouble.
Is that the idea behind the club at the moment?
Ah yeah, I can recognise it, I came from a difficult background myself. My mother was mentally ill, my father was an alcoholic. The boxing was there and I had that place to go three nights a week. It was steadying my life, it was good.
Is the strength behind boxing about the relationships you form with all the lads in a club?
Yeah, I suppose. The friends you make in boxing, we all have that respect you know? With sparring and things all the bullshit goes out the window, all the macho stuff goes out the window.
How is the club going at the moment?
It’s our second year winning the best club in Munster. So, we’re absolutely flying it. We’ve Paddy Donovan, who has won his sixth Irish title and this latest one was an Irish cadets title. There were ten lads in his weight class. It was a massive result at 60 kilos. He won the best boxer at the tournament. He’s a quality technical boxer. Now I’m not saying he won it easy, but he was just that little bit better than everyone else. He’s going out to Russia in a couple of weeks’ time, so all good.
Is the future looking good for boxing in Limerick?
I think it is, there’s great interest. Especially when you consider that there’s only really four clubs in Limerick City. Ourselves at Our Lady of Lourdes. Then you have Southill, who are after making a massive effort, they’ve a fine club up there. You have St Francis who are at the opposite side of town but are an inner city club just like us. When you’re an inner city club, you’re getting lads from everywhere, even the countryside. Actually, Rathkeale have a great club out there and they’re producing a lot of champions. You also have Moyross outside who are doing alright aswell. So yeah, looking good.
When it comes to a boxing club. Is it the facilities that make the club or is it the bodies that are in there?
That’s a good question now, I think it’s a little bit of everything you know? If you take a look at our club we probably have, I was going to say we have worse facilities compared to the others, what I really mean is that we have a small club, as you well know. It’s very small, it’s very intense. We don’t bother with time-wasters like. When you fight out of our club you’re gonna be tough you know? It’s a fighting club. It’s in your face, we do a lot sparring and school sparring. Like I said, I think facilities don’t make that much of a difference, at the same time I wouldn’t mind having a huge club!
In relation to club size and facilities, how do you go about getting funding?
Actually as you mention it, Provident have just agreed to sponsor us for three years and that’s absolutely fantastic. We’ve also bought a bus and got great help with sorting out the funding to get it. We get some good help along the way.
Is there any public avenue you can go down to attain funding?
There’s the sports grants and stuff and things like that, but they’re hard to get. You need a lot of educated people on your committee to get those types of grants, you’d nearly want accountants. We’re only clubs, we’re not solicitors.
Do you think running a club expands your knowledge of finances and fundraising?
Definitely. Like, the first time we were going to Dublin we had to call house to house to raise money. You can run tournaments, raffles and such. Look, there’s loads of thing you can do like. Bag packing!
Let’s get all tribal. How is Limerick boxing comparing to other counties?
Sure aren’t we the best club in Munster! Ah, in fairness Cork have nearly 30 clubs now. I remember when we first opened Our Lady of Lourdes, we would go down to the Cork leagues and there was only 12 clubs there. Limerick at the same time have lost a club in St Munchins, but Southill opened a few years ago. The thing is, Limerick is so sporting with the: Rugby and soccer and football and hurling, but there is an opening, definitely a big opening for a club out in the Northside. You could even have an opening in Raheen, it’s a huge place now. On the whole we’re going well.
Could the Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders create a legacy effect for Limerick boxing?
I think so. For me, coaching the kids and being around Andy and all his achievements, I can see the positive influence already. It has to be doesn’t it? What you’re growing up around is what you are seeing. Sure look at what Willy Casey did winning Prizefighter. Obviously Andy inspired Willy to go professional and Willy will inspire all around him, so it’s going to rub off of course.
Are we hoping that this world title fight in Limerick is more than a once in a lifetime event and could it spark something?
Well, I think if it’s successful out there money-wise they’ll have a few more. If Andy wins, you know. If they have a good card out there they could do really well. Personally, I thought the promoters could have gone the England versus Ireland route, brought a little bit of the rugby vibe into it. I thought that was the way they should have marketed it. Instead, we have this gyspy/traveller thing you know?
In Limerick we now have our figurehead in Andy Lee, currently in Dublin, their figurehead is Conor McGregor. When you consider that the Irish have so many sports competing against each other, is Boxing’s place at the table in danger from UFC?
I’d say Willie Casey would dig the head off of Conor McGregor, would he come down to the site and fight Willy? Sure they’re both Featherweights!
Seriously though. Is there a chance that young people are looking at the razzmatazz of UFC and looking at boxing as old hat?
Ah yeah, I suppose, but, boxing has been there for 200 years in fairness. It would be hard to break that strangle hold, but competition is a good thing. If this competition makes boxing pull its sock up, how bad?
Let’s get to the brass tax. How do you see Andy and Billy Joe panning out?
I can see Andy winning yeah. In the late rounds.
In true boxing style, is there any one you want to thank?
Ha! I’d like to thank Provident for their sponsorship, the Dominican church for our space and the Pery Hotel for their help over the years.