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Blood Brothers – JP Hale and Colm Murphy bonded by epic week

Two teenagers from Belfast, Colm Murphy and John Paul Hale could have the sort of rivalry that Irish amateur boxing hasn’t had in a little while.

Think Ray Moylette and Dean Walsh but with smiles, the pair went to war in the Ulster Elite Senior featherweight [57kg] final in an incredible fight that was repeated just six days later in the Irish Under-22 bantamweight [56kg] final.

Star’s Hale dropped Murphy in the opening round of their Ulster final and held off a huge charge from the St George’s fighter to claim the provincial title and the Best Boxer Award.

The relentless Murphy, though, would pick up where he left off the following weekend to claim redemption and the Irish Under-22 title.

Despite, or may because of, the heavy-hitting contests, there is huge respect between the pair who would exchange messages on social media afterwards.

18-year-old Hale would note how “I didn’t get the decision I wanted but me and Murphy battled it out, what a bloody fight! Amazing to have two young Belfast fighters in the Irish under-22 finals. All the best Colm Murphy, you warrior.”

Murphy would respond by saying that “this man is a warrior and it was an honour to share the ring with him twice in less than a week. Great fight, mate, the future is bright for us.”

It was classy by both and came after another war at the National Stadium and Murphy admitted to afterwards that “I do [enjoy those kind of fights], it’s in my blood I think.”

The recently-turned 19-year-old was all smiles following the impressive win but this came after a week of toil.

Murphy described how “I was really down about the loss – he deserved to win, he put me on my ass, it was justified. He’s a great kid, he’s strong”

“I had to go back and look at it and change the gameplan and I did. I watched [the first fight], every day.”

It paid off for Murphy who noted how “I knew what he was going to do, he was going to come out guns blazing, and he caught me with a good few shots in the first.”

“But I knew my stamina is my strongest asset and it was going to come into the equation in the second half of the fight and the third round.”

The pair are now 1-1 as Seniors (with Hale also winning a previous underage encounter) and there could be many more meetings down th line.

“I think so, I hope so,” says Murphy before looking ahead.

The Commonwealth Youth bronze medallist now looks set to represent Ireland in the European Under-22 Championships in March but will be a very busy man inside and outside of the ring.

A quantity surveying student at John Moore University of Liverpool, it’s a busy time for Murphy who mixing education with boxing.

The South Belfast youngster explained how “I’m a student in Liverpool and next weekend I’m probably fighting in the British University Championships, the grind continues.”

“I have to give them credit, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able to come here and compete.”


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: