Christine Coffey talks with Phil Rooney about the poor state of Boxing Facilities in UCD
Club officers charged with directing the development of a club they care about often talk about premises like Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer talk about location. Phil Rooney, a prominent figure in Irish boxing circles and a major contributor to the UCD Boxing Club over the past 5 years, is no exception. I spoke to Rooney before the first of the club’s bi-weekly speed sessions in Hall C, an area that falls short of reaching the ‘adequate’ title for an elite and hardworking group. Facilities are of the upmost importance, and when you look around the UCD campus and see rugby pitches, GAA pitches, AstroTurf, basketball and squash courts (all in the plural), you would really hope for the some funding for successful clubs like this for just one functional training hall at the very least.
Sparring with nearby clubs such as Anova and Drimnagh provides great opportunities for the UCD students against unfamiliar opposition. “They’re so used to each other at this stage” says Rooney. The club is well rooted in the Dublin boxing community, having strong relationships with some of the most successful clubs in the province. This lends credibility to Rooney’s claims that in running their own facilities in UCD they would be “self-sufficient. We’d host tournaments and events for the different clubs.” As is unfortunately often the case, capital is cited as the main barrier to this goal. However, Rooney believes this investment would be beneficial, not just for the Boxing Club, but for lots of other college teams too. Agility, speed, and footwork are synonymous with boxing and the sport contains a skill-set that is transferrable to most other sports on campus, and the coach claims that some campus teams have already expressed interest in using boxing training as a vehicle for improvement in the fitness department. “We’d love to bring them in. We’ve got a very mixed group here, lots of different nationalities and backgrounds, some GAA players, Archery, Rugby.”
“It takes a lot of courage to step into the ring,” says Rooney “We put them [new boxers] on a six week training programme, working on their defence, technique, stuff like that. You know if they have what it takes when they get to step in the ring.” Newcomers Macdara O’Morain and Zoe Beato claimed Dublin novice titles and Seamus Lyons won his senior third level-division in March, highlights of a hugely successful season for the club and testament to the impassioned work of its members to develop these young charges. “The committee we have are the best group I’ve ever worked with” claims Rooney. As it stands, UCD Boxing Club is engaged in a struggle to make-do and compromise, a struggle that won’t be over until someone’s hitting the canvas, a canvas for UCD Boxing Club.