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IABA insist they did their 'utmost' to retain Billy Walsh's services

Sport Ireland have also suggested they made “every effort” to prevent the acclaimed coach from leaving.

Billy Walsh resigned from his position earlier today.
Billy Walsh resigned from his position earlier today.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Updated at 18.28

THE IRISH AMATEUR Boxing Association (IABA) insist they did their “utmost” to retain the services of Billy Walsh, after the acclaimed coach confirmed his resignation today.

Speaking following the announcement of his departure, Walsh blamed the association for his decision to leave in favour of linking up with the US Olympic boxing team.

However, the IABA have said in a statement that they were disappointed that the two parties could not come to an agreement.

Commenting on the news, IABA CEO Fergal Carruth said:

“The IABA has been in discussions with Billy following his approach to the organisation to seek improved terms and conditions after he stated that he had received an offer from USA Boxing.

“The IABA is deeply disappointed not to retain his valued services, and for the avoidance of any doubt, the IABA has done its utmost to retain Billy Walsh as Head Coach. However, Billy himself has made the decision to resign and take up a position with USA Boxing, and we wish him every success with this.”

Carruth paid tribute to Walsh’s achievements but reassured fans that his departure would not lead to a drop in standards within Irish boxing.

“On behalf of the IABA, I would like to reassure boxing fans that the exceptionally high skill levels of boxing being taught throughout the clubs of Ireland continue to nurture the rich talent required to succeed at the highest level.

“This conveyor belt of boxing talent will continue to be developed and coached by the dedicated High Performance Unit team, and the IABA is confident of the continuing success of our elite boxing athletes as they prepare for next year’s Olympic Games.”

The association added that “a further announcement over the coming days in relation to the succession plans for the High Performance Unit”.

Sport Ireland have also released a statement this evening expressing disappointment at Billy Walsh’s decision to resign as head coach of the IABA’s High Performance Unit.

The organisation claim they made “every effort” to resolve the issue, while also paying tribute to Walsh’s achievements of recent years.

“Billy Walsh has overseen an unprecedented period of success in Irish Boxing including, most recently, at the World Senior Championships. Sport Ireland is deeply appreciative of his contribution and wishes him well in his future. The USA’s gain is Ireland’s loss.

“As the legal employer it was a matter for the IABA to resolve and it insisted on its autonomy to negotiate with their Head Coach. Sport Ireland was unequivocal in its desire to keep Billy Walsh in Irish sport and communicated clearly to the IABA that every support would be provided in order to retain him at the High Performance Unit of the IABA. This position was strongly supported by the Minister for Sport, Michael Ring, who met with representatives of the IABA on three occasions to facilitate an agreement and by Sport Ireland who met the IABA on several occasions.”

Minister for Sport, Michael Ring TD, added: “I have worked hard in trying to have this matter resolved in a way that would have been acceptable to all involved. I am disappointed that this has not proved possible. I would like to wish Billy well in the future and to thank him for the time and dedication he has given to Irish boxing.”

Sport Ireland, an organisation which aims to bring together the Irish Sports Council, National Sports Campus Development Authority, Irish Institute of Sport and Coaching Ireland to form a new, streamlined and dynamic body to drive the future of Irish sport, added in their statement:

“Sport Ireland believes that the proposal tabled on the 22nd August by the Sports Council, and supported by Billy Walsh, and the IABA representatives presented a realistic and fair framework to ensure his retention. It is not clear why this proposal was never presented to the board of the IABA as agreed at the meeting on August 22nd and we have never received a satisfactory answer on this matter.

“With no progress made, it required the creation of another proposal to advance negotiations. This new initiative required Billy Walsh to become a contractor to the IABA and was the basis of recent discussion between the IABA and Billy Walsh. This was a matter between the parties.

“Sport Ireland was not party to those discussions although it was prepared to provide funding for the financial cost of any agreement arising, if agreeable, to both sides. Last week the IABA reported that it was close to a successful conclusion of the negotiations. Unfortunately that has proven not to be the case as it seems there is no agreement on the non-financial aspects of the contract.

“Sport Ireland will now have to review the outcome of its recent engagement with the IABA.”

‘This morning, I spent a lot of time crying’ – Billy Walsh on his hardest-ever decision>

‘The IABA have not made it possible for me to continue’ – Billy Walsh resigns from IABA>

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Paul Fennessy

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