Seconds Out: Ken Egan and Oisin McConville to headline Belfast Boxing Strategy mental health conference

Olympic silver medallist Ken Egan will be a guest speaker at the Belfast Boxing Strategy conference on Sunday
Neil Loughran

OLYMPIC medallists Ken Egan and former Armagh GAA star Oisin McConville will be the guest speakers at the Belfast Boxing Strategy annual conference, which takes place in the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Sunday.

Egan - who returned home from the Beijing Games 11 years ago with a silver medal around his neck - and ex-Orchard ace McConville, an All-Ireland winner with Armagh in 2002, will address the conference, with the focus this year on looking after your mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Following their speeches there will be a series of workshops before a panel discussion, also including Paddy Barnes, and then a question and answer session.

The Belfast Boxing Strategy is supported by Belfast City Council and the County Antrim Boxing Board, in partnership with the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA).

And Jolene Donnelly, the IABA’s Ulster workforce development officer, believes hearing the stories of such high profile sportspeople can only help get the message out there.

“If people like that can suffer from mental health problems, then anybody can,” she said.

“Both Kenny and Oisin are really committed to spreading the message; Oisin’s done a lot of work with Sport NI and the Sporting Chance charity around addiction.

“We will also have Paddy Barnes in the afternoon, while there will be a few workshops from Action Mental Health, one on drug and alcohol awareness and an autism workshop.

“That’s something that has come through from a recent club audit we carried out, that clubs are wanting to know more about how they integrate people into their clubs who are autistic.”

And with a large turnout from the boxing community across Ulster expected on Sunday, Donnelly is hopeful that clubs can benefit from Sunday’s event.

“We are one of the pilot governing bodies involved in Sport NI’s mental health and wellbeing programme, and they are working with charities like Aware and Action Mental Health to roll out workshops with athletes and kids, but also with the workforce in terms of coaches, officials and volunteers.

“This will hopefully kick-start it for us in terms of getting the message out there that there are workshops you can avail of, and that you can bring into your own club setting.

“We know there’s people in our sport who have been affected by it – Paddy Barnes and Carly McNaul are both ambassadors for Sport NI, so it’s crucial to get the message out there that you don’t have to suffer in silence.

“If there’s any small thing we can do to get you on the right road, we’re committed to doing that.”

The Belfast Boxing Strategy annual conference is free of charge to IABA members. For further information, contact

MEANWHILE, a County Antrim team will be competing at a tournament in Naples from Friday until Monday.

Chris McCrory will be R&J/team manager, with Tommy Quinn (Townland) and Eanes Keenan (Ardoyle) the coaches on a nine-strong select that includes junior and youth boxers.

Juniors: C Magill (Glengormley, 54kg), M McCullough (Gleann, 57kg), B Agnew (Clonard, 66kg), J Walker (Lisburn, 70kg), S Davey (Townland, 75kg)

Youths: C Fisher (Holy Trinity, 56kg), J McArdle (Ardoyne, 64kg), E Onwuka (All Saints, 69kg), A Ahmed (Ormeau Road, 75kg)


Pictured at the inaugural meeting of the Northern Ireland Ex-Boxers' Association are, from left, Martin Hamill, Gerry Hamill, Roy Webb, Johnny Thompson, Damien McDermott, Paddy Moore, Paddy Maguire and Davy Larmour


COMMONWEALTH Games silver medallist Roy Webb bumped into a few old fighting friends for the first time in decades at the recent Northern Ireland Ex-Boxers' Association reunion in Belfast, writes Denis O’Hara.

The 57-year-old former professional super-bantamweight from Larne (15-2-1) enjoyed the resurrected association's first social venture, which was held at the National Club.

"It was an excellent night of entertainment, and great to meet up with so many friends I hadn't seen in such a long time,” he said.

“I chatted with Stevie Hanna of the Oliver Plunkett club, I also met - for the first time in over 30 years- my one-time sparring partner, Mark Owen, who came up to the do from Derry with another ex-amateur and professional, Damien McDermott.

"It was superb to talk over old times with my Holy Family club-mate and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Gerry Hamill.

"I also met up with my one-time trainer, Bobby McAllister, who celebrates his 83rd birthday in November. All in all, a very enjoyable experience, and I hope there will soon be more occasions like this."

The inaugural NI Ex-Boxers' outing was organised by Association officials Sammy Vernon and Seanie McCafferty.

"It was a relief to get the show on the road for the ex-boxers - a very encouraging start for the association,” said McCafferty.

“It proved to the old fighters they have not been forgotten. The night of excellent entertainment was not solely about retired Belfast boxers, but also those from around the province.

"Personally, I was delighted with our first social evening, and particularly the excellent singing of Martin Hamill. I spent the early part of the evening on the door, greeting fighters like Paddy Moore and the Belfast brothers, Pat and Tommy Campbell.

"It was also great to have so many fighters come into the city from up the country, including Roy Webb, Gerry Hamill, Damien McDermott and Johnny Thompson."


Holy Trinity’s James Malone and Peter Turley of Townland ABC go head to head during their Boy 3 41.5 kg Ulster novices final bout at the weekend. Malone went on to win an entertaining decider at Corpus Christi. Picture by Mark Marlow



A STRONG County Antrim schoolboy team will take on a Dublin select at Corpus Christi on Saturday.

Twenty cracking match-ups are scheduled to take place, with a host of Irish, provincial and county champions on show, as well as some of Boy 1s for the coming year.

Weigh-ins take place from 10-10.30am at Caulfield’s Bar on Belfast’s Whiterock Road, with breakfast from 10.30-11.30am. First contest is at 1pm, come along and support local talent.

26kg: TJ McArlane (Immaculata) v W Ormond (Whitechurch); 33kg: JJ Carlin (North Down) v J Kane (Monkstown); 34kg: H Cochrane (Castle) v T Fennell (Cabra); B McFadden (Evolution) v J Hayden (Crumlin), B Ferran (Holy Trinity) v B Lewins (Monkstown); 42kg: C Morgan (Ardoyne) v S Whelan (Docklands); 46kg: S Doherty (Phoenix) v K Paisley (Ballybrack); 50kg: G Cooke (Holy Trinity) v R Dempsey (St Saviours); 29kg: D McLaughlin (Saints) v J Maughan (Crumlin); 33kg: S Gray (Clonard) v P Parkinson (Cabra); 38.5kg: C Doherty (Glengormley) v R Abdulnasser (Ballymun); 41kg: Y Khalifa (Rathfriland) v A Abdulnasser (Ballymun); 33kg: L Rooney (Star) v L Mulhall (Docklands); 35kg: S Thompson (Spartans) v M McDonagh (Avona), J Graham (Clonard) v L Cooney (St Pappin’s); 43kg: S Quinn (St Paul’s) v T Brennan (Cherry Orchard); 45kg: C Braniff (Holy Trinity) v J Connors (Monkstown); 48kg: L Grant (Rathfriland) v A O’Neill (Glin); 42kg: D Magill (Glengormley) v C Ruth (Cabra); 52kg: D Fitzpatrick (Saints) v B Hawthorne (Donore)

MEANWHILE, west Belfast club St Paul’s are to face an Ulster select later on Saturday, with the action getting under way at Sarsfield’s GAC from 7.30pm.

The show will feature the lines of Dylan Eagleson, Tomas McCann and Dylan McShane, with admission £5 at the door.

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