The turmoil within the IABA won’t derail Ireland’s Olympic hopes suggests High-Performance coach John Conlan.
The respected trainer and Ulster HP head coach says the seven-strong team and the surrounding staff are focused ‘on one thing and one thing only’ Olympic success.
The father of Olympic medal winner Michael Conlan and former world title challenger Jamie Conlan says the in-fighting and the very strong public criticism are so common he has personally become immune to it.
However, that doesn’t mean he agrees with it or doesn’t think it’s wrong.
Speaking to the Neil Loughran of the Irish News, the Belfast-based Dubliner called some of the recent behaviour ‘shameless’ and suggested ‘toxic’ people have been around boxing for quite some time.
“We’re talking about mental health and everything, but the abuse the High Performance, the coaches, Bernard and some of the athletes have taken has just been unacceptable,” Conlan told the Irish News.
”Maybe these people should look at themselves in the mirror and hang their heads in shame at some of the bullsh*t they’ve said.
“We just get on with our work. They don’t see what the guys are doing on a day-to-day basis, how much they’ve improved, how difficult it was through Covid.”
Conlan is primarily referring to a document released in April criticising High-Performance Director Dunne and his team. The document was shared among the members of the IABA, and leaked to the media.
The document, which called for Dunne’s immediate departure, came not too long before Ireland qualified seven fighters to the Olympics and enjoyed three medal European under-22 success.
It’s not a document that hurt Conlan personally, when asked if he was affected by it, he replied: “Na – I’m an Ulster High-Performance head coach and I’ve had to deal with some toxic people for a long time. I don’t listen, I don’t pay attention to it. Some people, no matter how successful you are or how well you do, want to bring you down. It’s their nature.
“That’s fine, and they’re entitled to their opinion, to have their say. I think a lot of the information was false, misled bullshit. In reality, they didn’t give these kids a chance. Sometimes it’s shameful the way people are called out on social media and this kind of thing, and there’s no accountability.”
One of the issues raised by those not happy with the High Performance was the lack of communication with clubs and the sense of a closed shop in terms of selection.
Conlan suggests Covid has played a part in that.
“We have been limited in being able to bring in transitional athletes, to look for the next Michael Conlan – an 18-year-old who comes in fresh, wins an elite title and then one year later qualifies for an Olympic Games.
“But those same people who want to see you fail are the same people who are at the airport patting you on the back, getting in the photographs when things are going well. I know who those people are, and I don’t pay any attention to them.
“We’re focused on one thing and one thing only.”