PETER O’Donnell flies to Bulgaria tomorrow with a star-studded Irish team that will take part in the 2015 European Elite Men’s Championships.
The Raphoe ABC stalwart, Donegal’s ‘Mr Boxing’, has been named as the team manager of the Irish delegation for the 41st edition of the tournament.
Boxing in Samokov gets underway on Friday and O’Donnell believes that Team Ireland stands a big chance of adding to the illustrious group of ten Irish male boxers who have won European gold; a bunch that includes Donegal’s Jason Quigley.
Heavyweight Darren O’Neill is the captain and is one of four Olympians on the team with Michael Conlan, Adam Nolan and Joe Ward also on board.
“We’ll be looking for medals,” O’Donnell says.
“It’s a good team and they’ll all be aiming to qualify for the World Championships.
“It’s a good experienced team. We have four Olympians on the team so we’ve a top-class line-up. All of them are national champions and they have so much behind them.”
Conlan has already qualified for the World Championships, but has opted to give the Europeans a go.
Sean McComb, Michael O’Reilly and Brendan Irvine have also qualified for the Worlds and aren’t participating in Bulgaria. On Monday, Belfast’s Irvine was a visitor to O’Donnell’s club in Raphoe – he is pictured below with O’Donnell and Raphoe ABC head coach Gary McCullagh.
O’Donnell has been team manager before, most recently at the Gee Bee Multi Nations in Helsinki back in March when six medals returned to Irish shores: Nolan and Irvine took golds while Connor Coyle and Myles casey won silver with Kurt Walker and George Bates claiming bronze.
Boxing is O’Donnell’s life. When he sat at ringside for Quigley’s win over Joshua Snyder at the Fantasy Springs Resort in Indio, California, earlier this year, it was the 33rd venue at which he has witnessed a professional fight.
PETER O’DONNELL’S PRO FIGHT CARD: Madison Square Garden, Yonkers Raceway, Gaelic Park Chicago, Brooklyn Masonic Center, Irish American Heritage Centre San Francisco, Empire Pool Wembley, London Sporting Club, MEN Manchester, NEC Birmingham, Folkestone Town Hall, York Hall London, CIA Cardiff, Newport Centre, Millenium Stadium, Kelvin Hall Glasgow, Waterfront Belfast, Odyssey Arena, Andersonstown Centre, Ulster Hall Belfast, Kings Hall Belfast, Maysfield Leisure Cetrre Belfast, O2 Arena, Millstreet Cork, Pairc Úi Caoimh, Royal Theatre Castlebar, Whitchurch Sports Centre Bristol, Wythenshawe Forum Manchester, National Stadium Dublin, Shepton Mallet Bath, 3 Arena, MGM Grand, Stub Hub Center, Fantasy Springs Resort.
He says: “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s great to be recognised for the work you do. I‘m one of the lucky ones, but I still could never give back to boxing what boxing has given to me. The sport has been so good to me over the years.”
Two years ago, Quigley became the tenth Irish male boxer to win gold at the European Championships when he overcame Romanian Bogdan Juratoni in the middleweight final.
Previously, Jimmy Ingle, Paddy Dowdall, Gearoid O’Colmain, Maxie McCullagh, Paul Griffn, Paddy Barnes, Ray Moylette, Joe Ward and John Joe Nevin have won gold.
Irish squad: 52kg – Myles Casey (St Francis); 56kg – Michael Conlan (Clonard ABC); 64kg – Dean Walsh (St Joesphs/St Ibars); 69kg – Adam Nolan (Bray); 81kg – Joe Ward (APB); 91kg – Darren O’Neill (Paulstown); 91kg+ – Dean Gardiner (Clonmel).