Jamie Conlan believes Team Ireland are in a stronger position overall without what he claims was a ‘lazy’ approach from Joe Ward.
The former world title challenger, who believes the Irish amateur team are in a transitional period, admits the Moate and Sparticus natural talent would have been nigh on certain to medal in Tokyo had he not decided to turn over earlier this year but does suggests, in terms of team ethos, the current crop may benefit from his absence.
The 25-year-old, who makes his pro debut in New York this Saturday, is renowned as one of Ireland’s greatest ever amateurs. His list of accolades is phenomenal having won three European titles and three World Championships medals.
Yet still amateur nut, Conlan surmises the now Buddy McGritt trained fighter didn’t have the most positive of influences on squad as a group.
Not that Ward, who was massively backed by the High Performance and a favourite of Director Bernard Dunne, had an overly negative impact, rather the MTK Professional Development Coordinator claims his approach wasn’t overly suited to a captain’s role.
The former Commonwealth super flyweight champion, who now manages 16 pros including his brother Michael, admits in terms of medals a big void has to be filled, but backs Kurt Walker to do that while
“It’s a transition period, its a young squad,” he told Sky’s Toe2Toe podcast when asked about the Irish amateur set-up.
“Joe Ward has just turned professional it’s a big void to fill. When you look at any amateur squad you go ‘medal’, ‘medal’, ‘if he gets a bit of luck he’ll get a medal’. Joe Ward was the medal. Since Michael [Conlan] left, Paddy [Barnes] left, Katie [Taylor] left this cycle was built a little bit around Joe Ward. But Joe Ward didn’t fit the ethos of the Irish amateur High Performance team. He never trained the way Michael and Paddy trained. He was very lazy and a superstar in his own right. It is a big void to fill a bit piece of the team is gone,” he adds before putting Walker’s name forward as the new leader of the pack.
“Kurt Walker is a quality operator European gold medallist, Commonwealth silver medallist, beat Peter McGrail twice. I think he stylistically he just meet a tough Mongolian [in the World Championships] and he probably had the wrong tactics or wrong performance on the day. He will be the main man for the Irish team going forward. He will fill the void that Joe Ward has left and Katie and Michael before him. I think he is a better captain and leader than Joe was. There is an ethos around the team and there has to be a code and a standard set. Hopefully now they can build on the momentum.”
Conlan’s comments came in a wide ranging and very interesting chat with Toe to Toe, which you can listen to HERE.
One of the more popular members of the Irish boxing family discusses his career as a fighter and a manager and also talks all things Golden Contract.