Irish Boxer Overturned Deselection that Jeopardized Olympic Hopes

August 21, 2011

Irish welterweight boxer Michael O’Reilly won his case in the High Court to be put back up for selection for the European Youth Championships in Dublin this week following a decision by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) which omitted him from the panel due to an alleged breach of discipline at a recent training camp.

The 18-year-old reigning Irish 68kg welterweight champion was dropped for the event, when he failed to show for an afternoon training session at the National Stadium two weeks ago.

He claimed that he only missed training because he went to get his van fixed in Portlaoise after a minor accident occurred when he let a 17-year-old junior boxer without insurance or a licence park the vehicle.

O’Reilly challenged his omission, which he claimed could jeopardise his €5,000 (£4,374/$8,232) sports grant and his chance of competing at the London 2012 Olympics, and High Court ruled that he must be considered by the IABA Central Council..

O’Reilly’s coach Pat Ryan said: “We are very pleased with the outcome. The judge gave two orders in our favour. One is that the disciplinary action withdrawing Michael from the team was incorrect and that they [the IABA] didn’t have the authority to do that.

“The second is that Michael has been reinstated on the panel. That is all we wanted. In terms of discipline, Mr O’Reilly has travelled all over the world; he has won seven all-Ireland titles and his conduct has been exemplary. He is so overjoyed as all he wants to do is box. He is a credit to his parents and his club.”

O’Reilly can’t walk straight in to the team. Another boxer, Christy Joyce, was selected instead to compete in the 69kg division and O’Reilly had also asked the court to order a box-off between him and Joyce for the right to represent Ireland.

But the request was refused as it was decided that the final selection for all international boxing teams must be ratified by the IABA’s Central Council.

The Council will decide whether to select O’Reilly or Joyce.

In his ruling, Justice John Cooke said that the IABA’s Central Council must disregard the original decision to omit O’Reilly when it meets today in order to finalise the team.

The judge added it was regrettable that the matter in dispute could not have been mediated internally.