Not Madison Square Gardens in New York, Not the MGM Grand Las Vegas and not the Royal Albert Hall in London could have matched the electric atmosphere of the Damer Court Hotel on Friday evening last for one of the most memorable events in Roscrea’s sporting history.
“Fight Night” presented by Roscrea Hurling Club in association with Roscrea Boxing Club was a tremendous success and ringside in the heat of the battle to record all the action was Hurling Club PRO, Brian King.
The first fight was a “light flyweight” contest between Rory O’Connor and Jamie “Breezy” Bergin. Breezy immediately took the fight to O’Connor who did well to stay on his feet after an early onslaught.
Bergin continued to attack for the rest of the round and early into the second round. Any cynics in the audience who might have thought some of the competitors would go easy on each other, got their answer half way through the second round when both boxers went toe to toe in a pumping fifteen seconds where big punches were traded by both fighters. There was always the chance that the hard working “Breezy” would tire somewhat in the third round. O’Connor, who had given us a taste of his ability midway through the second round, set the arena a light in the third round with a massive attack on a tiring opponent. Credit to Breezy, though tired, he battled through the round and had it been the “Olympic Style Scoring System” he was certain based on his work rate in the first two rounds to win the fight. However last Friday was all about Boxing in its purest form and while there were some gasps when referee Dan Copinger declared Rory the winner the reality was that the powerhouse O’Connor did just enough to take the first victory of the night.
The second bout featured “The Butcher Boy” Benji Riordan against the big hitting Babby Wright. Both competitors had plenty of support and it was certainly a fight that the audience really looked forward to. Babby went on the offensive early in the first round, delivering a jab within the first few seconds to Benji’s nose that would dictate the pattern of the contest. Both traded punches for the rest of the fight but with Benji looking like “Rudolph” after taking the early punch he was always on the defensive and did well to stay in the fight despite the problems he was suffering with his nose. Credit to Baby who pushed forward at every opportunity despite taking some good punches from Benji. Babby managed to keep up the momentum and sealed a deserved victory after a comprehensive performance.
The third fight featured an exhibition of boxing from two Irish Amateur Boxers. Both Mark Beresford and Alex Collide showed that the future of Irish Boxing is very encouraging. The smart money was always on the draw and so it came to pass after three rounds of quality boxing that was really appreciated by all those present.
The fourth contest had received a lot of publicity in the build up to the fight. The battle of the Chairmen saw Roscrea Hurling Club Chairman Kevin Brady take on the Juvenile Hurling Club Chairman, Roddy Ryan. It was always going to be a battle of power against fitness. Roddy came out strong and led the “Dancer” Brady on a merry dance for the first round. Roddy delivered some clean punches and the senior Chairman looked in serious trouble when he went to the wrong corner on the bell to signal the end of a dramatic first round. Anyone that knows Kevin Brady though, knows of the raw strength that flows through his veins, and it was no surprise that once he began to compose himself in the second round he started to deliver some crunching blows which rattled the “Dodger” Ryan. As the bell went for the final round we all wondered could Brady keep the momentum going and could Roddy stay away from the ropes and get the jab going again. After a pulsating final round Kevin was declared the winner. The result divided some opinion but boxing aficionados such as Maria Moloney granddaughter of Roscrea historian, Kathleen McLoughney, who was ringside with her partner Joe on the night fully agreed with the referee’s decision.
The 5th contest of the night was a bruising encounter. Darragh “Wipe The Floor” Spooner took on one of the hurling clubs finest young players, Joe Carroll. Both boxers were very aggressive right from the start. Spunner try to deceive with some fancy footwork, but Carroll remained patient and picked off his punches showing all the potential of a someone that could have had a good amateur career in the sport. In the second round Spooner continued to rely on the footwork to try and outwit a classy Carroll who opened Darragh’s nose in a heated exchange that resulted in the evening’s first standing count for Spooner. In the third Round “Wipe The Floor Spooner” had it all to do. With great determination he fought hard despite the bloodied face and showed formidable aggression which was countered by Carroll who gritted his teeth and was declared the winner after a very tough contest.
The straight talking Padraic Carroll was next up against Enda “The Bear Maher”. How would Carroll’s long reach stand up against the brute force of a giant was the question on everyone’s lips. The “Bear” was out of the traps fast using the shoulders well to trap Carroll on the ropes. Padraic responded with some slick body shots that temporarily slowed the Bear’s momentum. The last few seconds of the round were frantic. The Bear went in hard once again trapping Carroll on the ropes. A big right hand from the Bear drew gasps from the audience but again Carroll stood up to the attack and responded with some solid body shots. The second round was every bit as aggressive as the first with the Bear Maher tearing into his opponent at every opportunity. With Carroll’s nose starting to show signs of a serious pounding the omens looked good for the “Bear”. As the round progressed however, Carroll started to gain the upper hand and finished strongly with some cracking punches to the head and body of his opponent. As the bell went to signal the end of the second round, there was still, despite a strong finish to the round, plenty of concern from Padraic’s support base that were well positioned ring side. Leading the support was Neassa O’Neil, Padraic’s girlfriend who seemed to feel every blow that was delivered by the “Bear”. She was also worried about Padraic’s nose which was broken in Australia three years ago. Brid Carroll, Padraic’s sister in law, could see how the fight was turning. She predicted a big third round from Padraic and her prophecy was fulfilled when Padraic put in a pulsating performance in the third to pull off a famous win against a very tenacious opponent.
After the interval the sporting fest continued with what looked on paper to be a very classy fight between the hurling mystro, Mark “Magic” O’Meara and the rugby genie Paul “McShuffle” McNamara. McNamara went on the attack from the bell. Looking extremely focused he delivered some crushing right hands that left Magic O’Meara wondering what kind of tricks he would have to pull out of his hat to survive the blistering offensive. In the second round McNamara continued the relentless attack, but Magic O’Meara wouldn’t go down and ended the round the stronger, by delivering two huge blows to quell the McNamara offensive. O’Meara knew that despite his good finish to the second round he would have it all to do in the third. He landed some early jabs and had he delivered a potentially devastating right hand to McNamara’s right ear the tables could have been turned. The classy McNamara weathered the storm and responded with some clinical body shots and there was little surprise when the referee declared “McShuffle” the winner.
The eight fight of the evening saw one of the event’s organisers Dan Gilmartin who entered the ring to the theme of “Rocky” much to the delight of the crowd, against Denis “Freak” Moloney. Moloney showed his intent early in the bout with some devastating blows. Moloney continued to press in the second round and Dan found himself under tremendous pressure. A very brave performance from Dan Gilmartin could do nothing to quell the tide that kept coming his way. A very empathic display saw Denis Moloney emerge the winner.
Cathal Carey son of the legendary Ciaran Carey was in action against another of the hurling club’s brightest prospects, Davin Flynn. Conceding a few years to the younger Flynn, this was a fight that many found hard to call. Within seconds, Carey was on the canvas but he was up quick and responded with a big right hand which sent out a brutal message to his opponent of what was to come in the rest of the fight. In the second round it was Davin’s turn to “kiss the canvas”. Like Carey in the first, Flynn was up quick but he was holding his shoulder and the omens certainly looked bad. Carey continued to do the attacking and Flynn who had fallen very heavily, started to look very tired. In the third round, Carey once again led the attack with some devastating blows that would have certainly rattled most opponents. A determined Flynn stayed on his feet however and can be very proud of his brave response. There was only one winner however and after an early shock in the first round, Cathal recovered well to win the bout.
On paper, contest number ten always looked potentially the best fight of the night. Ray Moloney was pitted against a fancied Paul Kirwan. Kirwan had a lot of support at ringside but it was Ray Moloney who took the early initiative by driving his opponent into the corner. Kirwan dug deep and fought his way out of trouble. With both showing the eyes of demons it was clear that the fight that promised everything wasn’t going to fail to deliver. The second round was every bit as frantic as the first. Moloney was once again on the offensive and used his weight to once again try and trap Kirwan in the corner. A big left from Moloney took nothing out of Kirwan who countered with a right. Once again Moloney tried to ensnare Kiwran on the ropes and once again Kirwan fought like a man possessed to get himself out of trouble. At this stage the fight was proving to be a classic in demonstrating how to counter strong offensive boxing with tough concentrated offensive strategies. The large crowd were really enjoying this one and ringside the great Mick Hogan lapped up every blow while Kevin Moloney Snr looked like given half the opportunity he would be in the tick of the action himself! In the third round Kirwan started to use the jab more. Moloney was jumping at his opponent with buckets of aggression. With a blood stained face Kirwan countered everything Moloney threw at him. The question now was would Moloney leave himself open at some stage for a devastating uppercut from Kirwan. Moloney was fighting so aggressively there was always a danger of a swift counter. Alas Kirwan managed to stay out of danger and when the bell rang it was hard to call the fight. If it was for aggression and taking the fight to an opponent Moloney would certainly have shaded it, but the experienced Dan Coppinger saw plenty in Kirwan’s locker to impress him and it was no real surprise that the fight ended in a draw.
In the second last contest of the night Ger “Ballaghmore Brusier” England went toe to toe against Ray “Hitman” Hurley. The “Hitman” certainly did nothing to endear himself to the audience by wearing a Kilkenny Jersey to the ear piercing jangle of “The Rose Of Mooncoin”. The boos were loud but Hurley loved the hostility and seemed to feed of the booing by emerging from his corner very focused and extremely determined. Hurley delivered some big punches’ in the first round and continued the momentum throughout the second. Ger showed great courage to stand up to the big blows and countered with some big right hands. Ring side “The Welsh Wizard” John Moyles, was not impressed by the tactical battle that was ensuing. Roaring for blood “The Wizard” was happier with the third round which saw Ger on the offensive but getting increasingly more tired against a very stubborn but extremely strong and eventual winner, Ray Hurley.
The final fight of the evening was easily the most anticipated fight of the night. A lot of “thrash talking” in the build up to the contest especially at the weigh in on Thursday at Roscrea Mart, had helped make this the battle everyone wanted to see. Former Tipperary All-Star John Carroll was up against the “Bonecrusher” Proinsias Loughnane. Loughnane had trained hard for this fight and word on the street was that he wouldn’t be just happy with a win, he wanted a knock-out. This despite taking on the man that had dealt with the “Rock O’Sullivan” on many occasions and widely regarded as pound for pound one of the strongest players every to wear the blue and gold. None of this phased the Bonecrusher however. As far as he was concerned that was the past, this was the present and he was ready to teach the Knock man a few lessons. Carroll entered the ring to the lyrics of “He’s a monster” much to the delight of those present. The “Bonecrusher” however wanted to gain the upperhand before the first punch was even thrown. As the music from the “Phantom Of the Opera” rang through the arena, the question was, where was the Bonecrusher?. Eventually he emerged dressed as the phantom. After such a build up all the pressure was now on the “Bonecrusher” to deliver. Both were out of their seats quickly at the bell. An early slip from the Boncrusher helped put the All-Star on the offensive. A big right from Carroll was countered with a strong left from the Bonecrusher who looked dangerous with the combinations. Both fighters showed no interest in defending and it was obvious that this would prove critical later in the fight. In the second round the All-Star had the Bonecrusher on the ropes early in the round. An onslaught of hooks to the head and lethal combinations to the body followed. The Bonecrusher took a standing count and looked a beaten man before the bell came to the rescue.
On February 11th 1990 one of the greatest upsets in sporting and certainly boxing history took place in Tokyo Japan when James “Bouster” Douglas a 42-1 outsider beat what many at the time considered the best heavyweight champion the world had every seen, when he sent Mike Tyson crashing to the floor with a devastating knockout punch in round ten. Twenty one years later at approximately 11pm on August 26th 2011, we were to witness once again one of Boxing’s greatest upsets. Carroll emerged for the final round full of confidence and the clever money was on the contest not going the distance. Carroll went on the offensive straight away delivering some crushing head shots to the Bonecrusher. And then just as shockingly as 1990 the Bonecrusher loughnane, landed a punch that will forever guarantee him a place in “Boxing’s Hall of Fame”. In the blink of an eye the “All-Star” was down. The crowd gasped in disbelief. The Bonecrusher stood over his prey menacingly before the referee ordered him to a neutral corner. The referee began his count. It became obvious at six that the All-Star wasn’t getting up. When the referee reached ten, the crowd in stunned silence were greeted by the bell and only then did it dawn on those present that the Bonecrusher had fulfilled his prophecy and beaten the former All-Ireland winner. Surprisingly, Carroll was back on his feet within seconds of Bonceusher been declared the winner! Within minutes talk of a major betting coup was rife amongst those present but the result stands pending an investigation by the World Boxing Organisation later this week!. Assuming the Bonecrusher is proved innocent we can expect to see him in an elimination contest with David Haye next January for a crack next spring at Wladimir Klitschko’s heavyweight crown!
Fight Night was a marvellous success and helped show once again what can happen when local organisations come together in Roscrea to arrange great events that can be enjoyed by all. What was really pleasing was the huge crowd that turned out to support the fundraiser which included people from all corners of the community. Chairman of the Hurling Club, Kevin Brady thanked everyone especially the fighters for helping make the event a reality. He thanked all the sponsors and paid a special thanks to the main sponsors of the hurling Club, Roscrea Credit Union who are always supportive of the club and it’s activities. The Chairman concluded by thanking everyone for attending the event and by thanking Roscrea Boxing Club for their tremendous support. Well done to all concerned on a great night for boxing, a great night for two sports clubs and a great night for Roscrea.