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Low Blows: Darren O’Neill

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Wednesdays means Low Blows and a chance for Irish fighters to hit out or, in today’s case, hit back at their fellow boxers.

This week it’s the turn of 2012 Olympian Darren O’Neill. Formerly a teacher, the European silver medalist is often in the firing line for his ‘crime’ of being intelligent and today he gets his own back.

Q: Hardest Trainer?
A: Hard to say really. I think Conlan, Barnes, Sutherland, Egan all have their merits, but for consistency across a decade I think I’d say Katie!

Q: Biggest Moaner?
A: Biggest moaner on the team without a doubt through the years was Connie Sheehan. There was no pleasing that guy, it was too hard or too easy, too far or too near. I’d say he thought Goldilocks was a horror story because nothing was ever just right for him.

Q: Funniest?
A: A lot of guys pop to mind, both boxers and coaches, Kenny Egan, Billy Walsh, Cathal O’Grady, Eric Donovan, but I think Roy Sheehan gets this hands down. Roy was always joking and up for a laugh. And he could take a good slagging too.

Q: Biggest Ladies Man?
A: Where do I even start? They all thought they were gorgeous and irresistible. All the above candidates and a few more. Seeing as he has documented it, and it won’t get others in trouble, lets go for a younger Kenneth Egan. Didn’t think he’d ever settle!

Q: Most Intelligent?
A: I can tell you that while very few of those guys had an education behind them, some of those guys would sell ice to an Eskimo, you couldn’t be up to them. If I take education into play I think I’d pick big Cathal McMonigle. A gent and a scholar.

Q: Least Intelligent?
A: Least intelligent could leave a list longer than my arm, and it’s unfair to many that they don’t get this accolade, but I’ll pick Hughie Myers – and I have seen and heard some shocking stuff through the years.

Q: Hardest Puncher?
A: There’s been a small handful through the years to be honest. Egan put me on my ass years ago but he was more accurate, Sutcliffe is very heavy handed but I wouldn’t have felt the true blunt of it because he was lighter and we’d never spar fully. He might not be well known on the scene but for me the hardest puncher I’ve been with in Ireland has been Sean Allen from Arklow Boxing Club.

Q: Most Naturally Talented?
A: I think Michael Conlan is probably most naturally talented. Some guys like Joe Ward, Egan, and few others have natural distance that makes things so easy for them but for me Conlan has the full package: Fitness, ambidexterity, ability to fight or box, and an air of confidence.

Q: Cheapest?
A: Cheapest for me through the years has been John Joe Nevin…, Not that I’ve much to back that with but he had to get a mention somewhere and, bar a question on who’s smelliest, this suits him best.

Q: Worst Dancer?
A: Haven’t seen that many of them dancing to be honest, apart from around a ring, but I think maybe Hughie Myers or Conor Ahern. I’ll pick Conor, he’s actually not that bad and a sound guy but he was such a little powerhouse that I always felt he’d be rigid and would lack the flexibility. Although Hughie is dreadful.

Q: Worst dress sense?
A: Easy, I can’t claim there to be any models or fashion icons in the group but Adam Nolan wins this hands down. Despite Nevin and few others tucking their tracksuit bottoms inside their socks and the likes, nobody is worst than Nolan. His Garda uniform is the best thing he wears.

Q: Biggest Messer?
A: Loads of messers through the years and some very funny guys but I think Sean McComb in recent years has taken it to a new level without ever being an ass to anyone in the process.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie