Following the shock decision to cancel the Andy Lee-Billy Joe Saunders fight at Thomond Park, a former mayor of Limerick speculated yesterday that ‘the Hand of God’ could have played a part, as it did for footballer Diego Maradona in 1986.
With five weeks to go, 12,000 tickets — 8,000 in Ireland and 4,000 in Britain — had been sold. However, yesterday, promoters switched the fight to Manchester, after Frank Warren said Andy Lee had contracted a virus that could have affected his preparation for the September 19 fight in Limerick.
As deputy mayor, Jim Long pulled the first legal pint on a Good Friday after Limerick District Court gave special permission for the sale of drink when Munster played Leinster in 2010.
Mr Long recalled yesterday that monks from the Moyross St Patrick’s Friary picketed the stadium to protest the sale of drink.
He said: “Some people said that day the city would have no luck for the selling of drink on Good Friday. A religious group also picketed South’s Pub, when, as acting mayor, wearing the mayoral chain, I officially pulled the first Good Friday pint.
“Maradonna claimed it was the Hand of God that was at work when he helped put England out of a World Cup. Maybe the Hand of God has been at work here in Limerick, in what happened with the fight. We know the Lord works in many ways and they say you never get one up on him.”
A spokesman at the friary yesterday said he could not say if the collapse of the fight was an act of God.
The loss of the fight could cost the city €13m in visitor revenue. People who bought tickets are being refunded by Ticketmaster. The fight will now take place on October 10, at the MEN Arena in Manchester.
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