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Friend First Manager Second – Padraig McCrory Explains How he Helped Owen O’Neill Through Tough Time

Padraig McCrory proved himself capable of being a good manager when being a great friend to Owen O’Neill late last year.

‘The Operator’ became the subject of boxing fan ire when he failed to make weight for an Irish title fight with Declan Geraghty in October.

It has since emerged the popular Belfast fighter wasn’t in a great place at the time, mourning his grandmother, to whom he was very close, but there was upset across the board at the time.

To his credit, O’Neill turned up at the weigh-in, despite knowing he was 10lbs over the limit so he could apologize to Geraghty, but after that, he wanted to go into hiding.

McCrory, who now manages the former BUI Celtic light middleweight champion, felt burying his head in the sand would only make things worse and prolong the pain, so acting as a friend and showing tough love he made O’Neill face the music.

“At that time he was with us in the gym and was my training partner. My first concern was him so I phoned him up. He was very down and didn’t want to speak much. I knew what happened in his personal life and I knew there was more to the story. First I wanted to see if he was ok, secondly, I asked him was he going to go the fights and he wasn’t,” McCrory explains speaking to Irish-boxing.com.

“I knew he couldn’t hide and he had to face what happened. I felt hiding was going to prolong everything, so I drove to his house, picked him up and I brought him to the fights. After he said it was probably one of the best things he’d done because he got to see the people that he didn’t want to see the most.

“We had a good night and Conor Quinn got a good win against Chris Liddell and it was good to see him back in the environment where he didn’t want to be.”

It shows real empathy on the Belfast super middleweight’s part but also an understanding of how a fighter works, something that will help him stand out as a manager.

“In boxing, as much as we are teammates, it’s an individual sport. The burden falls on you solely, so I put myself in his position. I knew he wasn’t in a good place and what you need there is people around you and to support you. I knew I needed to be there for him as a friend and a training partner.”

‘The Hammer’ has continued to help ‘Tripple O’ but now is his friend and his manager.

McCrory points out the 28-year-old is in a much better place and is ready for the next chapter in his career.

“He’s moved on from that now,” he adds. “He has a new team, including a new manager in myself and he’s ready to kick on to hopefully a big year.

“I’m in touch with Dan Anderson [O’Neill’s coach] every day. Dan is what Owen needs, he is very hands-on. As much as he is Owen’s coach he knows Owen better than most people. He was able to hone on what the problems were and able to change what needed to be changed. it’s paying dividends.”

O’Neill was scheduled to fight Dominic Donegan in a repeat of their by now famous Ulster Intermediate final before the Cavan man pulled out injured.

He now faces the away corner character, Edgar Kemsky in what McCrory believes should be an entertaining fight.

“I know what he is about. I see he is a bit of a character, he looks hard as nails and it’s going to be a good fight. As much as Kemsky would be seen as a journeyman, he’s a very good journeyman. He’s exciting, he’s wild he’s brash and I think he is looking to make a name for himself in Belfast and in Ireland and I think he will be looking to get win.”


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years