Another instalment to endorse the real quality of our clubs
Published 08/12/2015 | 00:00
The AIB Club championship is a competition I have always enjoyed watching, and every year it serves up some of the most entertaining games in both hurling and football.
Last Sunday's football final was another instalment that can be added to the list, as Ballyboden overcame Portlaoise by the minimum in a brilliant game of football. The contest epitomised the heart and endeavour of club footballers as both teams left every ounce of energy on the pitch for the pursuit of the title.
We were treated to great scores, superb saves, great defending and unfortunately for Portlaoise some heartbreaking misses. Every year there seems to be a story attached to some of the winners, which makes winning the title even more special to them.
Ballyboden are one of the biggest if not the biggest clubs in the country, yet this was their first title. As the saying goes, size is not everything.
The previous week one of the greatest shocks of the competition saw Clonmel Commercials beat nine times Munster champions and six times All-Ireland winners Nemo Rangers with a last-minute goal.
They created history to become the first Tipperary football team to beat Cork opposition in the competition and the first ones to win a Munster title. Imagine the celebrations down there last week.
Pride of place however must go to Oulart-The Ballagh for their incredible performance against Cuala.
We are all aware of, and much has been written about, their previous heartbreak, but that can be banished forever after the manner of their victory over the pre-match favourites.
The Wexford men had been impressive all year in the local championship and looked like a team on a mission as they easily beat all their rivals to reclaim the county title they relinquished last year.
Thankfully they carried that form and determination through Leinster and in the final they performed like champions and were a far better team.
It was great to see Eoin Moore, Keith Rossiter, Dessie Mythen and the Jacobs finally get the medal and the title they have worked so hard for over the last few years, and I hope they carry forward that form to February against Na Piarsaigh.
A lot of people have been asking me how Billy Walsh has settled in to his new role in the U.S.A., so here is a quick update. He hit the ground running and had to attend the U.S. Olympic boxing trials in his first week.
Things got off to a bad start when the bronze medallist from London and world silver medallist Marlen Esparza was beaten by a relatively unknown fighter Ginny Fuchs (have fun pronouncing her name but according to her it is few-shhh).
Esparza is a bit of a golden girl of American boxing as her good looks and personality make her popular with regards to endorsements, sponsorship and promoting the sport, so there was a bit of unease amongst the powers that be after her defeat.
The American selection system is pretty ruthless so if you don't win your trials you are no longer the number one. You can be world champion, get sick the week of the trials and lose your chance to qualify.
According to 'Coach Walsh' as he is called over there, the boxers under his tutelage have bought in to his methods and are working really well. It's a total culture change for both him and the athletes but so far, so good.
Last week Billy brought two inexperienced boxers to Rio for a pre-Olympic test event, not really knowing what to expect after only three weeks of intensive training.
To his delight Ginny Fuchs won a gold medal at the tournament, beating a five times world champion and Olympic medallist in the semi-final and a 2014 world silver medal winner from Britain in the final.
Not a bad start to his American odyssey and hopefully there is more to come.