Punching paramedic McCorry back with a bang to claim Ulster crown
PUNCHING paramedic Colm McCorry made a sensational return to the ring when he was named best boxer at last week’s Ulster senior championships – 15 years after his last competitive bout.
Outside of an exhibition for the fire service four years ago, McCorry hadn’t laced up gloves since 2008 before stepping through the ropes at Crumlin Star sports and social club on Thursday night.
Back then he would spar the likes of Eamonn O’Kane, Alfredo Meli and Martin Lindsay at Immaculata, and it was former British featherweight champion Lindsay – now coaching at the Mac – who helped the 35-year-old end his exodus from the ring.
“I didn’t actually realise it had been so long but then I looked at my card and my last fight was 2008,” said McCorry, who is based at Ardoyne ambulance station.
“I never really quit boxing, or officially retired anyway, but I started working for the fire brigade part-time, I was in university, we had our first child 10 years ago, I got into the ambulance service, we had another kid, buying a house, couple of dogs, then Covid came along… life just rolled on and I never really got back to boxing.
“We were talking about having another kid but I said ‘houl on, see before anything else happens, I’m going to box again’ – there was still an itch there that needed to be scratched. It was always at the back of my head.
“I kept myself in decent enough shape, then in June I got word that the Ulsters were going to be around the end of September, so I gave Martin a shout and set my sights on that.
“From then until now I haven’t missed a session, no holidays or anything, just kept her lit the whole summer. That gave me something to aim for.”
McCorry was pitted against 19-year-old Ryan Haughey from Carrickmore in his first bout back, impressing en route to a unanimous decision win, but the best was yet to come in a barn-burning 92kg final against Holy Trinity’s tough David McDonagh.
With sons Fiachra (10) and Naoise (8), friends and family members at ringside, it was an emotional night for McCorry – the perfect end to a week that couldn’t have gone any better.
“Honestly, it was brilliant to be back. I loved it.
“The final was a full digging match. I sort of looked at him and thought ‘I’m not going to stop him’ – I just saw the build, big lump of a man like, so when he came forward there was no getting away from a tear-up.
“In the last round the two of us were out on our feet, but I just had to stand my ground. I actually think the maturity of being older really helped, doing my job, having boxed before, having boxed at the venue before even though it was years ago, I was fine.
“When I was younger the nerves would have got the better of me, and I underachieved in terms of my ability, whereas now I was able to read different things, bring a more settled head to it.”
And, having watched the likes of former opponent Padraig McCrory excel in the pro ranks at the same age, McCorry hopes to keep the fire burning at least until January’s Ulster elite championships.
“That’s the plan,” he said.
“I would’ve boxed Pody when we were younger, then you hear people saying he’s too old… I turned 35 in April, I’m like ‘I’m his age and I’m not too old!’
“So there was definitely a bit of ‘I’ll show you’, know that sort of way? A bit of a last hurrah. I’ve a couple of years here so I’ll tear away and see how I get on… doing it for the oul lads.”
DONEGAL BOXER TAKES ULSTER TITLE FIVE MONTHS AFTER FAMILY TRAGEDY
JUST five months after losing his mother in a horror crash, Danny Duffy was among the Ulster senior title winners last week, writes Chris McNulty.
Duffy lost his mother, Christine McKane, and two other members of his family in April.
Boxing for the Raphoe club in Donegal, he won the open 54kgs final on an emotional night at Crumlin Star sports and social club.
On April 27, Duffy’s mother, her brother Dan McKane and their aunt Julia McSorley were killed in a road traffic accident near Aughnacloy.
Four others sustained injuries in a smash that sent shockwaves rippling across the north-west.
The three, all natives of Strabane, were traveling from a family funeral in England when the minibus in which they were traveling collided with a lorry.
Duffy was a gold medalist at the Donegal open championships earlier this year and he returned to training in the aftermath of a tragedy that ripped the heart from the family.
A large crowd was present in Belfast on Friday night as Duffy scored a unanimous decision victory over James Stevenson from Bangor Abbey. Duffy – who is entered in the Irish senior championships, which get under way in Dublin this weekend - was busy for the duration of the three rounds.
“We’re delighted for him,” said Raphoe head coach Gary McCullagh.
“All of Danny’s family were there and it was great for everyone. Danny has been training so well for the last eight weeks and has followed a strength and conditioning programme perfectly.
“He’s flying at the minute and he was brilliant in the final.”