Sport

Derry club Oakleaf defends McGinty Commonwealth call

Derry's Brett McGinty has been selected for the Commonwealth Youth Games ahead of Lewis Crocker
Neil Loughran

THE furore surrounding the decision not to select Lewis Crocker for the Commonwealth Youth Games has been described as “absolute nonsense”.

The Ulster Council caused controversy last month when they opted to send Derry’s Brett McGinty (pictured) to September’s Games in Samoa instead of Crocker – going against the 69kg selection put forward by High Performance coach John Conlan.

The fall-out from that decision has rumbled on ever since, with Crocker’s club Holy Trinity leading calls for a box-off between the welterweights.

However, Eugene O’Kane – the honorary secretary of McGinty’s club Oakleaf – has defended the Ulster Council’s decision.

He insisted the selection of the five-man team had been reached “in a fair and democratic manner”.

In a letter to The Irish News, O’Kane said: “We feel we must respond to all the frenzy which has been whipped up on social media, one-sided press reports, letters to the sports minister, Sport NI and to the IABA CEO, imploring them to intervene – to prevent one of the great travesties in Ulster boxing history. Absolute nonsense and untrue.

“My club, our boxer and members of the Ulster Council have taken a barrage of unwarranted abuse over the decision.

“The Ulster Council selected this team in a fair and democratic manner. Each boxer was proposed and seconded and a vote by show of hands was taken.

“Ulster president Paul McMahon conducted the meeting in a fair and proper manner and anyone wishing to speak on the selection was given the floor.”

On calls for a box-off, O’Kane was defiant, saying: “I would ask the question ‘if the shoe was on the other foot’ would there be such a clamour for us to get the selection reversed and a box-off called for – I think not!

“This being a voting year, maybe some of the people criticising the Ulster Council should put their names forward for election.”

Stepping away from the committee hall, O’Kane was keen to talk up McGinty’s record between the ropes, describing him as “a very talented young boxer”.

While Crocker has never been beaten in Ulster, McGinty has only ever lost once in provincial competition – and that was as a

Boy 2. Since then he has gone on to win six national titles, as well as a European Championship bronze.

At 18, Crocker is a year older than McGinty, but O’Kane insists that – in terms of experience – there is nothing between the pair.

“Everyone in the Crocker camp seems to be ignoring our boxer’s record and experience,” continued the Derry man’s letter.

“Brett and Lewis both lost on points to Martin Stokes at the recent U18 Championships in Dublin.

“Brett and Lewis also both lost on points to John Joyce recently.

“At an Ireland v Scotland International held in Monaghan just over a year ago, Brett boxed a cracking contest with the current European champion John Hutchinson, losing 2-1 on a split decision.

“To throw up the argument that Brett does not have the same experience as Lewis is simply not true.”

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