A boxer is often only as good as the main man in his corner, and thankfully in Ireland we are blessed with a number of top coaches.
To facilitate making a shortlist for this gong, we have made our choices from trainers with at least two active Irish fighters – so there is no nomination yet for Manny Robles!
It should be noted that we acknowledge that there are a number of top amateur coaches in Ireland, but we feel we don’t have the sufficient knowledge to pick just a few for our shortlist. For those who wish to vote on the amateur side of the game, check out our Club of the Year poll.
This award is named in honour of the late Patrick Hyland Snr.
The veteran Belfast coach led Paddy Gallagher to a BBBoC Celtic title win in May, with The Pat Man scoring a first round stoppage of Tony Dixon. In addition, Coalisland lightweight Feargal McCrory has marked himself out as one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, while Darren Mangan sadly had his career cut short. Finally, hot amateur prospect Lewis Crocker also joined Breen’s Gym this year and the power-punching teen will look to debut in 2017.
It has been a mixed year for the crew at the Celtic Warriors Gym, but the Corduff club has still posted 16 wins in 2016 across all their fighters, with five losses. Collins has taken in some fresh blood too, with the talented Bernard Roe joining up. Indeed the Dublin gym is always a hive of activity, with fighters from all over the capital using Collins’s facilities
It was a good year for the veteran manager-trainer who saw Shortty Carroll fight thrice and make the step up to eight rounds, winning the Celtic Nations light welterweight belt and showing another side to his game. Balbriggan welter Crank Whitehouse also returned from a frustrating spell of injury to step up to six rounds and put on a career-best performance against come-forward Spaniard Sergio Abad.
Tony Del Vecchio
It was the year of the comeback for the Bondi Boxing chief. Darragh Foley and Gerard Clancy both suffered losses in big fights, but both returned with two wins ahead of hopefully big 2017s. Foley is now targeting a spot in the WBA 140lbs Top 15, while Clancy is on the domestic title trail. The Aussie coach is no longer in the corner of the world title chasing TJ Doheny, but remains involved in the Portlaoise fighter’s career in an advisory roll.
Eddie Hyland and Tommy McCormack
The N7 coaches have burst onto the scene in 2016. Former Irish champion Hyland and respected pro cutsman McCormack have overseen the impressive debuts of Jay Byrne and Carl McDonald this year while Kilbarrack flyweight Lynn Harvey has also this month joined up with McCormack for the new year.
The former European champion has linked up with two of Belfast’s hottest talents this year, with cruiserweight Tommy McCarthy and Celtic super featherweight champion Anto Cacace moving to the 41 year old. McCarthy has been whipped into supreme shape by the Antrim GAA S&C coach, and had a notable win over Jon-Lewis Dickinson and a narrow loss to Matty Askin in British title eliminators. Cacace has been roused from a low point in his career and, after two quick wins, he is now in the frame for titles in 2017.
The young coach has already been named Trainer of the Year for the 2015/16 season by the British Boxing Board of Control for a year in which he has guided Carl Frampton into the pound-for-pound Top 10. McGuigan first overcame Joe Gallagher in a tactical battle for Frampton v Quigg, before cornering ‘The Jackal’s win over Leo Santa Cruz and further proving he is one of the top coaches in his sport. McGuigan did suffer his first loss as a coach in 2016, although Conrad Cummngs’ loss to Ronny Mittag is one that is highly disputed.
The veteran Immaculata coach continues to shape the career of hot prospect Joe Fitzpatrick and also saw the return to the ring of Alfredo Meli. James Fryers lost out in his big fight with Maxi Hughes.
Phil Sutcliffe Snr
The legendary Crumlin coach saw his son finally get the breakthrough he had long hoped for, with Phil Sutcliffe Jnr overcoming Chris Jenkins in a Belfast barnstormer in November. In addition to this, the two-time Olympian has been reunited with Ian Tims, and the Clondalkin cruiser looked sharper than ever on his return to the ring in November.
The Liverpudlian saw Jamie Conlan claim Commonwealth super flyweight honours in a year where he has also added Tyrone McKenna, Jono Carroll, and double Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes to his roster. Vaughan’s impact with McKenna is particularly notable, with ‘The Mighty Celt’ dropping down to light welter and winning the BUI Celtic title with a career-best win over Sean Creagh.