Boxing: Olympic hero Harrington at Ballymun summit

Dublin sporting heroes lead the way in Ballymun

by Aaron Dunne
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kellie Harrington

‘On your sad days, go off and train, even if you don’t feel like it. You will always feel good about yourself after training’. 

That was the advice Olympic champion boxer Kellie Harrington  gave to a group of young sportspeople at a  discussion held as part of the inaugural  Ballymun Summit in Trinity Comprehensive School .

Harrington admitted that she had occasional “sad days” herself and also that she became pretty nervous before any fight. 

“I like that nervy feeling — it keeps me on my toes.  I can, I am, I will, I’m going, followed by some deep breaths — that’s what I say to myself and do before any fight. People probably wonder what’s going on with me!”

Football manager Roddy Collins, whose brother Steve was a pro boxer, admitted that  he quickly realised that boxing wasn’t for him, despite growing up in a boxing mad household. 

Motivation was key in any sport he said.  “It comes from love, not from fear — or from ego.” Be happy, he advised. “You will achieve nothing if you’re not happy”.

Noel King, who coached the Irish women’s soccer team for ten years and the men’s team for six months,  spoke of  treating all footballers, whether male or female, equally. “I just see people as footballers. I focus on the match and how to win.” It’s OK to make mistakes, he said.  “If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not in the game. Make the mistake and then get over it!”

Nole and fellow manager Joey Malone pointed out that, for players and coaches alike, every day is a learning day. “The day you stop learning is the day you stop improving.”

Oisin “Gaelforce” Fagan, the ex-pro boxer, revealed that as a young lad, he made a promise to himself to train every day. “If I went out to a party at night, I’d enjoy that fully, and then do an extra half hour’s training the next day.” Focus on the big picture he advised — and stay away from the drugs and drink. 

Sean Boland, a local physiotherapist, gave advice on diet. “You are what you eat. Sleep is at No 1 and then comes diet. Learn what foods suits you and stick to them.”

Former Dublin footballer Davy Byrne had simple advice. “Remember that you are representing yourself, your family,  and your community. Try and leave it a better place”.

Also on the panel were hurler Fionntan McGibb and Irish international taekwondo coach John Kelly. Ballymun ultra runner and triathlete Ger Prendergast chaired the discussion.

Over the three days of the Ballymun Summit,  from Friday, November 18 to Sunday, November 20, topics such as  biodiversity,  the local area plan, voting, gay health, sef-car  and other topics were covered in talks and podcasts. Also taking place were introductions to sports such as boxing, table tennis, basketball, running and Scouting,  as well as the Irish Freestyle Football Championships.“We wanted to broaden our scope to include social and economic topics relating  to the local community, as well as sports — which we have done already with the Ballymun Sports Festival. We’re pleased with how it went and we aim to make it an annual event,” said organiser Dean Scurry. 

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