On the outside looking in — the man behind our boxing medals

HEAD Coach Billy Walsh yesterday said that it was a disgrace that Gary Keegan, the man responsible for getting the Irish boxers to the medal stages at the Olympic Games, is not with the team in Beijing.

“He is the main reason for this and for the High Performance director not to lead this team at two Olympic Games is an absolute disgrace,” Walsh said. “He is sitting outside there. Most days he has been crying, because he can’t be with his team.

“It has meant a lot of extra work for me but I have learned a lot from him so I am able to pick up the pieces but he normally picks up the pieces around me so I can totally focus on coaching.

“But he was the one who put us in this position. He has guided us every day. He has pushed us, he has challenged us every day about the training asking ‘How can we get it better? How can we turn things around?’

“This programme would not be in existence without Gary Keegan. The reason why this programme is successful is Gary Keegan.

“There is money being put into the sport now not to have a mess like this. It’s public money, it should not be a mess like this. Gary Keegan should be here leading us. We have a team manager, he’s a lovely man. It’s nothing to do with him but he is not the performance manager. He is here as a manager, he’s a nice lad and I’d go for a pint with him, he’s a great lad. I have no qualms with him, but it’s the system which has let us down. I don’t want to go into it too much or bashing anyone because I want to talk about the three guys.

“A blind man could see it, but it’s politics in sport. Thankfully, Gary has protected us for five years. I wouldn’t be in this job if I had to put up with what he has had to put up with for the last five years.

“He has protected us from all of that and allowed us to get on with our job. The lads are all going mad over Gary not being here but he hasn’t made it an issue, he has allowed them to continue on but he is in contact with them daily.

“If they want to go out to see them they can and some of them have been out to see him. After each fight, they all see him outside the back of the stadium and give him a hug. He’s in tears most days.

“It would be hard for me to explain what he is feeling because it hasn’t happened to me. My gut feeling is that he has been left out there as a broken man. Gary is leaving after this and I am going to retire as well, because I’d have to try and match this in London 2012. I’ll leave on a good note.

“We have our doctor, Jim Ryan, our psychologist Gerry Hussey, our strength and conditioning coach John Cleary, Seán Madigan from Donegal is our nutritionist, Johnson McEvoy and Scott Murphy are our physiotherapists. We’re all a team, but Gary makes the team work. We have our own part to pay, he makes it work.”

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