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Westport boxers feted by council

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PACKING A PUNCH Councillors from the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District pictured with boxers Shannon Sweeney and Laura Moran at their civic reception, from left: Councillors Gerry Coyle, Peter Flynn, Brendan Mulroy, Christy Hyland and John O'Malley. Pic: John Moylette

Medalists From St Anne’s Boxing club receive high praise


Michael Gallagher

On an October evening in 1967 a group of friends gathered in the GAA Room of the old Town Hall in Westport for the inaugural meeting of what would become St Anne’s Boxing Club. Last Tuesday evening, more friends gathered on the same, much-changed, spot to honour two of the club’s finest.
Laura Moran and Shannon Sweeney were feted by the local community, their families, friends and politicians from across the district. It was a special moment - a special occasion and the completion of a circle in some ways.
Cathaoirleach of the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District, Cllr Brendan Mulroy was on hand to express the community’s admiration for the boxers and their achievements. Laura Moran won a silver medal at the European Championships and Shannon Sweeney is the Irish Elite champion and also won a gold medal at a prestigious multi-nations’ championship in Europe.
Cllr Mulroy recalled the great people who had gone before. He spoke about sport’s power of good and the pride people felt when Laura and Shannon stepped between the ropes.
“I was in a pub in England the day was Laura was fighting in the European final. I was sitting there watching her fight on my phone and amazingly there were three other people there doing the same thing. That’s the power of sport. It reaches people and places you’d never expect.”
Cllr Mulroy went on to thank all who work tirelessly throughout the community in the various sports clubs and organisations.
“Countless people give of their time so that others can benefit from the joy of sport and that’s certainly the case in St Anne’s – a club blessed with the finest of people,” he stated before challenging the duo to reach even greater heights.
“We’ll be back here again in the coming years, out on the balcony celebrating when the two of ye bring back Olympic medals. No pressure girls!”
Former Irish champion and current coach at St Anne’s, Martin Brennan, then took to the stage and described the joy the two boxers had brought to everyone and the years of effort it took to achieve what they have.

Dedication
“These medals are earned a long way away from the ring on the day of competition. It takes years of dedication – personal dedication to achieve what Laura and Shannon have. They train on their own most of the time and it takes huge mental strength to keep going year after year. They’re an absolute inspiration to the rest of us and it’s a proud evening to see them deservedly honoured by the community.”
St Anne’s BC President, Peter Mullen thanked the council and the community for honouring the champions and said the young women deserved every accolade coming their way.
“It’s been a long journey since the first meeting of the club here on this very spot in October 1967 when Paddy Muldoon let us use the GAA Room inside the door of the old Town Hall. A lot of good people have come and gone in the years since and we’re looking forward to even better days out ahead of us.”
Many from the Mayo boxing fraternity were present at the reception including former Irish Olympic team manager Seán Horkan and members of Geesala BC. Also present were councillors Gerry Coyle, Christy Hyland, Peter Flynn, John O’Malley while apologies were received from councillors Seán Carey and Paul McNamara.