Saturday 25 May 2019

Blackrock old boys come out fighting

EX students and staff at one of Dublin's top schools are taking to the ring in a charity event that will be a real bruiser.

Billed as the Hassle In The Castle, some 28 ex-students and staff from Blackrock College, including retired Irish rugby heroes Shane Byrne and Neil Francis, will go toe-to-toe in a gruelling white-collar boxing event.

Some 14 bouts -- each containing three 90 second rounds -- are scheduled for tomorrow's fight night at the Fitzpatrick Killiney Castle Hotel, with some of rugby's hard men trying to punch their way to the title of Blackrock champ title.

Giving a blow-by-blow account of the action will be Newstalk radio host George Hook.

"Basically it is a celebration of Ireland's most successful Olympic sport," said James English, the man behind the event, who is also a teacher at the prestigious south Dublin school.

"Every penny raised will go towards the building of a school in Sultan Hamud in Kenya, where a group of people from the college will go this summer. "Everyone's gone through a tough 12-week training regime at the National Stadium, where we basically learned the skill of boxing -- and got fit. It's been great fun." Mr English also revealed how he drew the short straw and has been pitted against former Irish international Neil Francis because no one else would step into the ring with the feared ex-number eight. Alan MacGinty, Blackrock's principal, is also taking part -- he joked to the Herald yesterday there was a few former students only too willing to take a pop at him. The headline bout is Shane Byrne's clash with former classmate and rugby rival Mark McDermott.

"Shane and Mark were in the same year and were always battling for the hooker position at Leinster, so they've had an ongoing thing since school -- so that should be a good one," Mr English said.


Wicklow man Byrne, known to rugby fans as the 'Mullet', said he has been training at the Arklow Boxing Club.

"We've always been good pals so there's no problem there -- the two of us having a go at each other will be nothing unusual."

For more information contact jenglish@blackrockcollege.com.


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