Olympic qualifier box offs an option – but Dunne highlights the benefits of longer form assessment

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Box offs could still be used as a tool for the High Performance Unit to select who should be sent to the the London Olympic qualifiers in March, according to HP Director Bernard Dunne.

Questions with regard to the selection process have been ever present in Irish boxing, but with such a pool of talent now operating across the weight divisions there seems that little bit more intense in Dunne’s era.

The absence of seven big names and indeed perceived number ones from a National Elite Championships, that was billed as ‘vital for Olympic qualifier selection’, has seen an increase in scrutiny, query and even conspiracy.

Dunne addressed the absentee list during finals night live on TG4. He explained injury and not interference was the reason some of the reigning champions and big names had pulled out after initially entering.

However, there are those within the game who are adamant the fighters that entered and won at their respective weights have earned the right to be considered for the Olympic qualifiers.

Public Box Offs have been called for as a result – and that is something Dunne claims may just happen.

“There’s still the potential for box-offs,” said Dunne when queried by Gavan Casey from The42.

“It states that in the policy.Where we see fit to create a box-off, there will definitely be box-offs. But again, it’s what-ifs at this moment in time.”

There are those who argue the issue of competition makes the High Performance uncomfortable. The suggestion is the High Performance have their favourites and fighters they have been grooming toward Tokyo – and they’d prefer to avoid a situation where a #1’s credentials can be queried.

However, Dunne is adamant that isn’t the case. He argues competition is the ideal scenario and he welcomes the pressure being put on perceived Olympic front runners.

“We’ve got a team, now, where there’s a challenge in certain weight divisions, and that’s what you want. That’s exactly what I want.”

While a box off may be used to determined who should be in Olympic qualifier pole it seems more likely assessment will be in house.

If that is the case it will upset some, but Dunne explains there has to be some form of continued monitoring and explains why it may be more effective than judging over nine minutes.

“We have everybody back in [the HPU] next week, 3 December — everybody from Nationals. And those who can participate from the injury list will be back in as well. And we’ll see where it goes.There’s no timeline for assessment.

“Winning the national championship is one moment in time. We want athletes who are continuously performing, that are continuously pushing themselves and challenging themselves. If people are missing training sessions, if people are late for training sessions, if people are not managing their weight — all of these things have to be taken into account.

“We’re looking to make a team that has a culture of seeking excellence and has a culture of continuously performing at the highest level. We’re not looking for people who want to cut corners. And you see all of that when you have them in over two or three weeks.How do you fit in as part of a team? There’s no point in having a great athlete if they piss off everybody else, or nobody else gets to perform because they’re upsetting everybody.

“We have until March next year [to select a team], so we’re okay. There’ll be a lot of factors taken into play and we’ll make a decision closer to the time.”


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