Thursday, May 20, 1999

Badminton Club Success, St. Michaels Boxing Club and Local Elections

I met Frank Boyce of McDonnell Drive in Galway recently and learned to my disappointment that I had missed our town’s badminton team’s success in the All-Ireland championship the night before. Played in the Galway Tennis Club the championship featured the four provincial champions and the Athy team came out on top under the Captaincy of James Kilbride. Congratulations to all involved. The team consisted of Liz O Rourke, Mary Doogue, Mary Campbell, Jessica Lennon, Frank Boyce, Tony Campbell, Brendan Sourke and James Kilbride.

Further sporting success has been recently achieved by St. Michael’s Boxing Club under the guidance of Dom O’Rourke. During the past year young boxers from the local club have won 17 Kildare titles, 9 Leinster titles, and a plethora of other titles at provincial and club level. Its record of achievement has earned for St. Michael’s the Joe McTiernan Cup as best boxing club in County Kildare and it has also won the provincial award for best club in Leinster in the 11-14 age group and the 14-16 age group. These are wonderful achievements which have largely gone unnoticed up to now.

Individual boxers in the club who achieved major success this year include David and John Joe Joyce, Eric Donovan, Roy Sheehan, John Clancy and Alan Foley. Each of them are All-Ireland title holders at different levels ranging from 11 years up to youth level. Alan Foley, son of John & Marie, of Townspark has also qualified for the European Youth Championships which will take place in Russia next August. Another European Championship boxer is Tommy Sheehan who was recently beaten in the final of the All-Ireland Senior Championship in Dublin. Tommy will represent Ireland in the European Senior Championship which will take place next October. Two other young men who did remarkably well in the Club’s first involvement in the All-Ireland Senior Championships are James Phillips and Hugh Joyce both of whom reached the Semi-Finals.

These successes carved out of the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in St. Michael’s Boxing Club like the All-Ireland success of Athy’s badminton confirms our home town’s position as one of the centres of sporting excellence in the county. Maybe the footballers of Athy, whether they pursue the round or oval-shaped leather, will take heart from the success of their neighbours and give us something to cheer about next year.

From local sporting achievements to the political ambitions of other locals is a change of direction requiring a mental adjustment of a schizophrenic. However I have heard on good authority that an election for the town council is in the offering, so the adjustment must be made. Have you heard the patter of feet on the drive-way yet as the eager candidates bear down on your front door bearing gifts of paper suitably embellished with promises and commitments for the future and boasts of alleged achievements in the past ? For printing firms a local election is their equivalent of a building boom. Brochures are required, not just by the political parties, but by each individual candidate who zealously guards and protects his or her share of the voter’s allegiance.

The promise of an election rouses some of us to action, presenting as it does an opportunity to unburden ourselves of every complaint which has gone unheeded in the previous 5 years. Like everyone else I have a wants list and on top of that list is the engineering dinosaur which is known locally as the Inner Relief Road. This marvel of in-grown toe nail type ingenuity is scheduled, or so we are told, to give us a new traffic route through the centre of Athy so as to accommodate the articulated trucks and juggernauts which might perhaps find a by-pass route too taxing. Athy Urban Development Group made up, I am pleased to say, of men and women interested in the future of their native town, has recently asked the candidates in the local election to indicate their views on the Inner Relief Road. The candidates were also asked to indicate their support or otherwise for a plebiscite which would give the local people of Athy the right to vote on the issue. The intention, I understand, is to make sure that everyone in Athy knows, before the local election, where the various candidates stand on these two important points.

Of more immediate interest are the arrangements being made by that group for an old-style public meeting in Emily Square on Saturday 29th May at 7.30pm to whip up support for the plebiscite. I gather that the members of the European Parliament (MEPs to you and me) and TDs and Senators who support the call for plebiscite will speak at that meeting.

The election on the 11th June comes at quite an important time in terms of the existing council’s push and rush to close the lid on the debate concerning the Inner Relief Road. The Town Development Plan, which includes the Inner Relief Road, is again on public display and will be up to 31st of May to enable local people to make submissions. The Urban Council’s office in Rathstewart is where you may call to inspect the plan during office hours and where your submissions and any objections or comments can be made. You should get down there as soon as possible to make sure that your views are known to the Council officials.

Back to sport again. I got a telephone call within hours of last week’s paper arriving in the shops to point out that I had omitted Mick Coughlan from the list of local players who had played with Mick Carolan. Coughlan lived in McDonnell Drive at the time and was a fine footballer as well as a worthwhile athlete specialising in the high jump. His father John, who died not too long ago, was one of the leading lights in the GAA in Athy for many years, before leaving to live in Raheny in Dublin. Incidentally the gremlins had me referring to Mick O’Shea as another local player on the Kildare team where it was of course Liam O’Shea.

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