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Local footballers square up for boxing fundraiser
The footballers of Glenelly GFC have switched codes over winter and are preparing for their most bruising encounter yet this weekend.
Twenty-four competitors will step into the ring for the club’s white collar boxing event at the Mellon Country Hotel – it’s being marketed as ‘Boxing by the River’, a nod to the club’s hugely successful ‘Rockin’ by the River’ festival held every summer.
Tickets for the event are already selling fast, with particular interest from neighbouring clubs who also have members taking part – Strabane Sigersons, Newtownstewart and Gortin all have players stepping into the ring.
In total there will be nine men’s fights, and three women’s. The competitors have been in training since the beginning of December at Mourne Golden Gloves in Strabane, being put through their paces by Ben McGarrigle’s team of coaches.
Garry McGlinchey is part of the organising team, and is also taking part: “We have never done this kind of fundraiser before so we thought we’d give it a go, and it’s created a real buzz around the community. It’s exciting for us taking part, but also for everyone coming to see us because none of us had any boxing experience whatsoever, so it’s a bit of a novelty, and that’s half the craic of it.”
He added: “We’re going to make sure it’s a great night’s entertainment. We’ve got a good spread of evenly matched bouts, and it’s good to have the guys from neighbouring clubs involved as well to add to the local rivalry. We’re really grateful to them for giving us their time and effort, because it has been a fairly big commitment.”
Ben McGarrigle, a former Ulster heavyweight champion, has been impressed with the efforts of his novices: “The commitment of the Glenelly footballers has been second to none. When they approached me first I was sort of reluctant as we have our own club here and we’re doing training, and I thought we were going to get a pile of guys coming in one night a week and have a brawl at the end of it. I was proved completely wrong. We had agreed they would come in one day a week, but they’ve been in my club four nights a week.”
He continued: “They keep telling me it’s all a bit of fun, we’re all clubmen here raising a few pound for our club, but let me tell you, there’s no friends in the boxing ring when it comes to Glenelly footballers. I’ve seen over the last four weeks, blood, sweat…you name it. I have to hand it to them, the work and commitment they’ve put in here (has been great).”
“They say they’re all friends and they aren’t going to hurt anyone, but I know all the stuff that we’ve told them here will come in and I think we’re in for a hellraiser of a night. I know one thing, I’ll be in the front row watching it. The way they’ve developed, they’ve become a wee family down here. I just hope I get some recruits out of it!”
Some local celebrities will also be in attendance as special guests – WBA Intercontintental light-welterweight champion Paul McCloskey will be there to run his eye over the pretenders, while RTÉ pundit Joe Brolly will no doubt offer some of his trademark withering critiques.
The action in the ring will be followed by a disco, and it all takes place on Saturday 2nd February. Doors open at 6.30, with the first fight at 7.30 – to find out more about how to get tickets and the line up of fights, visit www.facebook.com/glenelly.gfc or tweet @Gleann_Eallaigh