JASON QUIGLEY knows the Irish High Performance Unit better than most and the Ballybofey man believes that the loss of Billy Walsh, the former Head Coach, is most felt OUTSIDE the ring.
After six of Ireland’s seven boxers were beaten in Rio at the Olympic Games – and the other sent home in disgrace – many feel that the absence of Wexford man Walsh is being felt between the ropes.
Walsh guided the Irish boxing team through a golden period before leaving last year to take up a similar position with the USA team.
The handling of Walsh’s departure by the IABA has been the subject of criticism by boxing supporters in Ireland.[adrotate group=”81″]
In Rio, Joe Ward and Paddy Barnes exited disappointingly with Barnes detailing his struggle to make the 49kgs weight, while Katie Taylor was dethroned, Brendan Irvine was well beaten, Steven Donnelly exited after a brave battle and Michael Conlan was, ultimately, robbed.
Quigley believes that the absence of Walsh was acutely felt away from the canvas.
“He was such a proud Irishman and I saw close hand the passion, the pride and the discipline that Billy had on his boxers. That is missed big time,” Quigley told Donegal Sport Hub.
“When Billy spoke, everyone listened. He had that sort of authority over people.[adrotate group=”38″]
“Does that mean that they’re not achieving because Billy isn’t there? No. Zaur (Antia) is amazing. He has brought the whole thing on leaps and bounds. Himself and Billy were a great team together.
“But I don’t think Billy’s absence has anything to do with the performances or the failure of Ireland to win medals at the Olympic Games.
“The main place he’s missed is with the control and the discipline. Billy was like a boss. He got you in line and kept the line straight.[adrotate group=”37″]
“It’s outside the ring where Billy’s loss will really be felt.”
IABA have not replaced Walsh as the Head Coach. Antia, the Technical Coach, took on the role on an interim basis. Eddie Bolger and John Conlan have also been working with the boxers in Rio.
Quigley did a lot of work with Antia during his time with the High Performance team.
He said: “People blaming everything on Billy not being there isn’t right. There’s a lot more to it than that.[adrotate group=”82″]
“Billy is a miss to the High Performance team and there is no doubt that the set up would be a better one, but people don’t realise that the coaching of Zaur is top notch, unbelievable actually.
“He’s a great coach, the technical work he does is unreal.”
Irish middleweight Michael O’Reilly – a genuine medal hope – was sent home after failing a drugs test prior to traveling to Rio.[adrotate group=”46″]
Two days before the Games got underway, O’Reilly and the IABA were notified of the alleged violation and the Portlaoise boxer was subsequently sent home and now faces a ban from the sport.
“Michael O’Reilly is an adult, a grown man,” Quigley said. “What he put into his body, that was entirely up to him. Whatever he was given, he’s bound to have known that it was dodgy. But it was Michael and Michael only that decided to take it – and only he knows why.”Tags: