‘He’s with me every time I’m in the ring’ – Kian Hedderman dedicates Senior Championship win to Kevin Sheehy

New National Senior 85kg champion Kian Hedderman dedicated his maiden Irish title success to the late great Kevin Sheehy.

The teenager became one of the stories of this year’s ‘intermediate’ installment, navigating three differently styled but equally challenging tests to claim the prestigious title.

Even more impressively the OLOL prospect did so just two years after taking up boxing and by winning just his eighth, ninth and tenth fights.

The Limerick talent admits the success didn’t come easy but believes National Stadium favourite Sheehy, who tragically passed in 2019, helped him battle his way past more experienced opponents over the last month.

Hedderman feels his friend’s presence when he fights and reveals his coach Martin Donovan has often brought up the decorated St Francis fighters name to motivate him through tough patches.

“I dedicate all my wins to Kevin Sheehy and I want to dedicate this win to him,” Hedderman who fights in one blue sock and one pink sock in honour of Sheehy and another friend that passed, Leah Cantillon.

“He’s the reason why I started, he paved the way for all of us. He did it five times up in the National Stadium, he’s an absolute legend around here. If I turn out to be half the man he is I’d take that.

“When I used to talk to him about boxing and what he did in Limerick and for Limerick was just massive. He’s an inspiration, you see his mural at St Francis, you walk past it and you just get that feeling,” he adds before revealing Sheehy’s name has helped him through fights.

“I think he’s with me every time I am in the ring. I’ve been level going into the last round of fights level and my coach, Martin Donovan, has often brought his name up, and that spurs me on. We are from the same area, he’s Carew Park I’m Southhill and he’s done it coming from where I am from, so in that way he’s a real inspiration.”

Boxing nevermind National titles were not on the radar for the popular Treaty county man less than three years ago, but his life changed once he walked through the OLOL doors.

Martin ‘Gugu’ Donovan, a father to pro stars and former underage standouts Paddy and Edward Donovan, saw something in him and nigh-on adopted him.

“Martin and his boys took me under their wing, not only in boxing but in life. They are very important to me. I walked into Our Lady of Lourdes on July 2 and that was it. Martin was the first person to really put belief into me.”

That belief saw a seven-fight novice opt against entering the Novice Championships in favour of targeting Senior success.

“I should be a Novice but he told me I could win the Seniors, so I just entered and went forward with it. I’m over the moon.”

Another noticeable factor of Hedderman’s success was the support that celebrated it! He took a massive Limerick following with him to the South Circular road venue for last Friday’s final.

BUI Celtic Champions Graham McCormack and Jamie Morrissey were two of his more vocal supporters, while Top Rank starlet Paddy Donovan was in his corner. Edward Donovan as loud as any supporter for any fighter on the night, as was Irish Youth Captain for the upcoming Worlds, Jim Donovan.

“That’s just natural for Limerick,’ the humble Hedderman explains. “Kevin Sheehy had so many people behind him. There’s something about Limerick we just have this crowd,” he add before explaining the effect it had on him.

“It makes you nervous but it kicks you too. You could be down and they bring you back up. I love it. All these people coming to watch you and it’s the same for the other Limerick fighters. If you’ve seen Graham [McCormack] the support he has, anyone in Limerick has great support.”

Will he give that support another reason to travel to the first purpose-built boxing Stadium in the world by entering the Elites?

“Why not?” the simple answer.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com