‘Paths to Glory’ by Soinbhe Lally


It was a stupendous event in the Odyssey Arena last night and a splendid victory by IBF Super Bantam Champion, Carl Frampton over challenger Alanos. A fight on a par with the mythological tales of those heroes who fought epic bouts of single combat.

For Belfast, N. Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, it is a supreme achievement on sporting and community levels. There was young Frampton, a Protestant from Tiger’s Bay, being cheered on by an audience drawn from all sides of the community. His manager, Barry McGuigan, from cross-border Cavan but initially trained in his local club in N. Ireland. Like Frampton, he was supported by all sides of the community in N. Ireland and came, over time, to regard himself as an ambassador for non-sectarianism in sport. NI boxing has been proud of its role in promoting unity in a divided society, transcending splintered politics and riven communities.

That is why it is so sad to witness, in recent years, the spectacle of NI amateur boxing dividing against itself. The Sandy Row Amateur Boxing Club, Alanna Murphy’s old club, has complained about 10 years of sectarian and racist harassment of its members. The Club made complaints to the IABA which, lacking protocols for dealing with such grievances, offered sympathy but little in the way of redress.

Eventually an investigation by an Independent Working Group,  set up by the IABA to examine boxing in Ulster, concluded, in 2012, that there had indeed been a “number of chill factors creating anxiety in the sport” and that the SRABC complaints were justified. It proposed proper grievance procedures in the sport and the option, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, for boxers who identified as British, to have the option to box for the UK.

In the meantime, the Sandy Row club has lost funding due to its refusal to affiliate with IABA. Application of affiliation rules, in this situation, smacks of bloody mindedness. There must be room for compromise.

It is unfortunate that politics ever mixes with sport, some flexibility, and a bit of goodwill, by existing governing bodies, from IABA to the OIC, about what constitutes national identity, would go a long way toward solving the problem.

Barry McGuigan ran into national identity problems on his path to glory and for a while was mocked as “Barry the Brit”. His subsequent career justified his choice of Britishness, which offered him the support he needed at that time to become a world champion. Now we have another champion. Carl Frampton. Over the coming years he will continue to unite N. Ireland and the whole island of Ireland as we cheer him onward on his path to still greater glory.

12 Responses to ‘Paths to Glory’ by Soinbhe Lally

  1. Paul March 1, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

    Eh, last time I was there, Clones was in Monaghan

  2. James March 1, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    Yes, Paul, Clones is indeed in Co. Monaghan, and I would like to add that Belfast is in Co. Antrim, Ireland, not sure where the artificial entity that Soinbhe calls ‘northern ireland’ lies, but each to his or her own.
    However, getting to the meat of the sandwich, apparently the Sandy Row Amateur Boxing Club has complained about ’10 years of sectarian and racist harassment of its members’ . As Soinbhe’s post does not actually tell us, in any great detail, what the alleged complaints are, it would be helpful if she could elaborate.
    To my mind the conclusion by the ‘Independent Working Group’ that there had indeed been a “number of chill factors creating anxiety in the sport” must rank as one of the greatest pieces of verbal garbage in the history of the English language, appearing to make a statement, but actually saying nothing at all.
    Finally Soinbhe, am I being presumptious in thinking that this working group, ‘set up by the IABA to examine boxing in Ulster’, looked at all the nine counties that make up the province?

    • neill March 1, 2015 at 10:12 pm #

      James these things are real:
      Northern Ireland
      Jude Collins dislike of SDLP DUP AND UUP

      These things are not
      Jude Collins having a go at SF

      • Jude Collins March 2, 2015 at 10:14 am #

        Neill, neill – I’m beginning to think you’re a slow learner or else seriously deaf (of course you could be both…) I’ll have a go at SF when the vast majority of the Irish media treat them exactly as they do any other party. Which should be a while. Check the Irish Times, the News Letter, the Belfast Telegraph, the Irish Independent over the coming months…

        • neill March 2, 2015 at 10:25 am #

          Jude I understand you completely you can take that as gospel

  3. Brian Patterson March 1, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    I have to confess that this article irritated me. The author like so many other commentators, including some Sinn Fein spokespersons,has apparently recently discovered that Ireland is an Island, hence we now have three Irelands, namely the Republic of Ireland , Northern Ireland and the Island of Ireland, really distinct and equal in all things. All-ireland is a no no and it is surely only a matter of time till we have All-Island Gaelic football and hurling competitions.
    Furthermore I confess,nay avow, total disinterest in, no dislike of, competitive sport. Including, no, especially, soccer and boxing. I do wish Carl Frampton well.

    However curmudgeon that I am, I am more than a trifle sceptical of the canonisation of his manager as ‘neutral’ ambassador for peace. Some thirty years ag Mr. McGuigan was reported by a right wing English newspaper that his rejection of violence derived from, or at least was confirmed by, the brutal murder of two friends of his, brother from just across the border in Fermanagh, by the IRA. The murder he referred to was indeed brutal, horrific and totally injustices. The two brother(who had no political affiliations) were butchers and they were stabbed to death with bayonets and their mutilated bodies thrown like so much dead meat into their own freezer. There was just one flaw in the narrative reported by the newspaper and attributed to Mr. McGuigan. The brothers were not killed by the IRA but by a patrol of the British Army. They were quickly arrested and in a rare display of British justice here, were sentenced to life imprisonment (whether they ever served out their sentence we do not know) Mr McGuigan was asked to disown or withdraw the accusation but apparently he “held his peace”.
    During a recent interview by that retired and retiring journalist and well-known subversive Gay Byrne . McGuigab related how he refused to be identified with a”green white and gold” (sic) flag in order to remain ‘neutral’ and non-sectarian . A more prurient and less diplomatic interviewer than Mr. Byrne, working for a less docile organisation than RTE might have asked Barry whether his acceptance of an MBE or attendance at Tory Party dinners during the Thatcherite Era might not have compromised his neutrality. Mr McGuigan spoke of how during the troubles, the IRA would sneak across the border to commit their evil deeds and then return to their safe havens. There was no hint that there could have been two way traffic in that regard so the inconvenient and trivial detail of the Dundalk and Monaghan bombings, the murder of two GAA fans on the Monaghan border and the Clontibret invasion did not figure prominently in Mr. McGuigan’s narrative. Or Mr. Byrne’s questions.

  4. Mary Jo March 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

    Just checked to be sure. Barry’s first boxing club, Wattlebridge Boxing Club, is in Fermanagh.

    • Larry Murphy March 4, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

      Sorry Mary Jo
      WattleBridge Boxing Club is not in Co. Fermanagh, nor is it in WattleBridge and it wasn’t
      When a very young Barry McGuigan received his earliest tuition in the ‘Noble Art’. Well where was it at that historic moment? Possibly at Clinagore about 3 miles out of Clones on the Cavan road, which would put it in Co. Monaghan. My research is continuing,

  5. Francis March 2, 2015 at 12:21 am #

    Barry Mc Guigan did not command the support of the whole community. His west Brit disposition contrary to this made him nothing but yet another stooge the Brits would employ for propaganda. Disregarding the vertebrate evolution bequeathed him, his overt and excessive toadying to the establishment made him more than a useful ambassador for the Establishment,- Arise Sir Barry…..neutral, my arse.

    • ANOTHER JUDE March 3, 2015 at 12:29 am #

      I have to say I never supported him in any of his bouts, he was a puppet of the British media and all the while danced to their `two warring tribes` tune. Of course, as soon as he was beaten he was Irish again and the same will happen to Carl.

  6. James March 2, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    Good morning Neill, hope you had a nice weekend. Having got that out of the way I would be very happy if you could address the points made in my post, rather than being a little silly. On several occasions in the past I have challenged you to put some meat on the bones so to speak to back up your assertions. So far, disappointingly, you have failed to do so. Go on Neill, tell me where I am wrong, I know you can do it.

  7. michael c March 2, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    Barry and his manager “Mr Eastwood” finished up a laughing stock and rightly so.