THERE was a moment, deep in the bowels of the National Stadium – the South Circular Road’s Mecca for Irish amateur boxers – on the night of February 22 2013 that outlined the meaning of it all.
Jason Quigley embraced his father and coach, Conor, who was clutching the certificate that proclaimed the 21-year old as the Irish senior middleweight champion.
This was the moment they’d waited long and hard for.
This was the moment they’d worked long and hard for.
This was the moment they’d dreamt of, the moment that was always their goal.
Now, it was reality.
Jason won the Irish senior middleweight title with a confident and assured display of boxing to defeat former welterweight champion Roy Sheahan 15-6 on points.
It was a win that paved the way to a European gold and World silver medal for Quigley, who is now 9-0 as a professional in America and is readying himself for his tenth pro bout on March 25 at Fantasy Springs.
Sheahan was unable to get through Quigley’s watertight defence. It was a victory Quigley had sensed beforehand – and his big dream was finally realised.
“I’m absolutely buzzing after the run I had through the tournament,” he beamed as he peeled off the bandages.
“I’ve proven to myself and to everybody how good I am. I’ve beaten the best in this championship and I didn’t miss anyone.
“I’m absolutely delighted. For us to come from where we have is brilliant.
“Words can’t describe it.”
I’d watched Quigley’s rise up the youth ranks and peered in agony through the fingers as he lost senior finals to Darren O’Neill in 2010 and 2011.
By 2012 he made an attempt to take the title at welterweight level, but Illies Golden Gloves’ William McLaughlin stopped that bid and Quigley was back at the drawing board.
2013 was different. From a ringside perch, the emotions ran high and a bear hug from the champion remains a treasured image (below) – captured by Donna McBride – on this writer’s wall.
When he defeated O’Neill, it felt like Quigley’s time had arrived. The Indian sign was lifted at last.
Quigley became only the second fighter to beat O’Neill at middleweight at the National Stadium. The other was the late Darren Sutherland.
“Darren O’Neill, his coaches and all the people around me have all come at different times and said: ‘your time will come’. But it’s hard to listen to that after he’s just beaten me,” Quigley said at the time.
“I was only a kid in the last two finals, but the development in the last couple of years has stood to me in being able to hold a senior man off me.
“I had only just moved up to 75kgs and I was weighing 73kgs. Now, I’m a fully middleweight and I just want to be here to stay in this division.
“To be the national senior champion in your country in this sort of a weight division is just unreal. I’m buzzing. To lift this title…it’s a man’s title. I’ve won an under 18 and an under 23 European title, but this is a senior man’s title.”
With a man of Sheahan’s class in the blue corner, there was never any danger of Quigley becoming complacent.
The steely focus that is his hallmark now was laid bare that night three years ago.
He entered the 2,000-capacity arena huddled in his Finn Valley tracksuit, hidden beneath an ‘OMG’ hat sporting a pair of ‘Beats’ headphones.
As the finals night boxers – including the likes of Olympians Michael Conlon, Ken Egan, Adam Nolan and the national treasure that is Katie Taylor – were paraded to the crowd, Quigley was notably absent from the ring.
This wasn’t a night for pageantry; there was business at hand.
“I just said to myself before I went in: ‘This is my time’. There was just no way I wanted to fall tonight,” he said.
“I’ve tried to stay relaxed and confident for all of my fights – basically it’s just a case of getting in there and doing the business.”