Next Carl Frampton could slip through the net over Commonwealth funding mess says John Conlan

John Conlan believes a huge opportunity has been missed after funding was not secured to bring the Commonwealth Youth Games to Belfast in 2021

THE next Carl Frampton could slip through the net after Belfast missed out on hosting the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games, according to Ulster High Performance coach John Conlan.

Belfast was officially awarded the games in 2016 but the collapse of the power-sharing government at Stormont 18 months ago meant funding was never signed off.

Last week it was confirmed that funding for the games would not be approved, with a new host city currently being sought.

Conlan, whose son Michael boxed at the 2008 Commonwealth Youths in India while Frampton competed four years earlier, has taken teams to Samoa and the Bahamas since heading up the High Performance unit at Jordanstown.

Indeed, of the 2015 team James McGivern and Aidan Walsh - both gold medal winners – returned with silver from the senior version in the Gold Coast back in April.

And with 2021 only three years away, Conlan was hoping the 2017 and 2021 teams could backbone the next Commonwealth team bound for Birmingham in 2022.

“The last Commonwealth cycle is finished and this month we’re bringing in 40 youth and junior athletes who are going to be the next Commonwealth Games team. That’s how far ahead we think – four years,” he said.

“We’re bringing them in for a training camp, to expose them to high performance culture and fundamental skills. That’s for the elites, and one of the things I use to develop the guys for the elite Commonwealth Games is the Commonwealth Youths.

“It gives them an opportunity and exposure to a good quality tournament. The fact we had the opportunity to have it on our home soil, to have a home games where the support would be great, I just think it’s a big opportunity that’s been missed.

“It’s now going to be in some other country which is going to strangle the budget a little bit because it’ll cost money to travel, teams won’t be as big… we could’ve had a full contingent at this Commonwealth Youths but we won’t have that opportunity.”

Conlan is quick to highlight the benefit hosting the Commonwealth Youth Games would have had across all sports, and points to the 2001 World Amateur Championships in Belfast as a turning point for a generation of young fighters.

“This isn’t just about boxing but all sports,” he continued.

“We’ve just come back from a Commonwealth Games where we’ve had our first gold medal in gymnastics, and what it’s done for gymnastics here is phenomenal.

“It’s not money going out the door, it’s money that’s being brought in again. We’d get a huge body of people travelling in from all the other countries in the Commonwealth to support their athletes.

“I remember when the World Championships came to Belfast, Jamie and Michael were there as kids. Michael went on to become a world champion, and that’s where those kind of dreams are sown.

“Are we missing an opportunity to develop the next Carl Frampton or the next Mary Peters? I think so.

“You need to get the public behind all these small, marginal sports and the only way of doing that is letting them see the guys. It’s a great opportunity missed.”

The successful St Paul's team that finished third in the medals table at the Monkstown International Box Cup


ULSTER was well represented at the Monkstown International Box Cup at the weekend, with clubs and fighters bringing plenty of medals back up the road.

St Paul’s, Belfast finished third in the overall medal table after a superb performance in Dublin, landing four gold medals and three silvers.

Dylan McShane, Dylan Eagleson, Tiernan O’Neill and Conor Lenehan all finished top of the podium with Tomas McCann, Zoe McGlone and Oisin McCann landing silver.

In the skills bouts tournament for U11s Cillian McNally and Torin Manning both boxed impressively, with Manning also picking up the ‘Best Boxer’ award, while Odhran McKenna who was unfortunate not to get into the medals.

“This is a fantastic achievement for all the coaches – Ralph McKay, Robbie Barr, Francis McNally and Gavin Manning - the committee and members for the dedication and commitment to making this club so successful,” said boxing development officer Frankie McCourt.

Elsewhere, highly-rated Two Castles fighter Jude Gallagher added to his burgeoning reputation when he scored a unanimous win over America’s Samuel Coiso.

Danny McHugh fought Hungary’s reigning European champion Ferdinánd Sztojka and, with the fight level going into the last, McHugh dug deep to finish stronger and bring another gold medal back to the Newtownstewart club.

Tiarnan Mayse just came up short against Dublin’s Francis Maughan but, considering he has only just returned to training after two weeks in crutches, he can be very happy with his performance against a decorated opponent.

Mayses’s twin sister Allanah rallied after a sluggish start to ensure another title for Two Castles.

2017 Commonwealth Youth Games bronze medallist Colm Murphy is a man well used to the big occasion, and he produced one of the performances of the day to defeat Scotland’s John Casey in the 57kg decider.

St George’s pressure fighter Murphy had to be at his best against the highly-rated Casey. Jack McGivern, Conall Ross and Jordan O’Donnell also boxed well for the Markets club.

John Paul Hale from Star Boxing Club is the only Ulster representative on the Irish team that arrives in Germany for the Brandenburg Cup today


STAR’S John Paul Hale is part of the nine-man Irish team that heads out to the Brandenburg Cup in Germany this morning, with the action getting under way later today.

The talented bantamweight has shown some impressive form this year and will fancy carrying that into the multi-nation tournament in Frankfurt/Oder on the Germany/Poland border.

Indeed, Hale returned with a silver medal in his last visit to Germany back in May, as part of the Ulster High Performance team at the Black Forest Cup.

And he follows in the footsteps of some top-level boxers who have also competed at the Brandenburg Cup.

“All the coaches at Star are delighted for John Paul,” said club coach Liam Corr.

“This is a tournament that has seen the like of Joe Ward, Ryan Lindberg and Joe Fitzpatrick pick up medals in the past so it’s a massive and deserved opportunity for him.

“He’s had a great season, picking up Ulster and Antrim titles followed by silver at the Black Forest Cup. Being the only Belfast/Antrim/Ulster boxer selected on the team is an incredible achievement and is testament to the hard work and effort he puts in in the gym.

“We have high hopes he will do well over in Germany and wish him all the best. It’s a real tough tournament with other top teams such as Cuba, USA, Russia and Kazakhstan all sending their top youths.

“But on his day he can mix it with any of them.”

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