It is ‘unthinkable’ for Irish boxing to lose Billy Walsh - Kenny

Taoiseach says he understands parting is ‘not anything to do with remuneration’

Billy Walsh has been offered a contract to head up the women’s boxing programme in the USA. Photograph: Francis Myers/Inpho

Billy Walsh has been offered a contract to head up the women’s boxing programme in the USA. Photograph: Francis Myers/Inpho

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said it would be “unthinkable” if Ireland’s high performance boxing coach Billy Walsh left his role just a year before the next Olympic Games.

Mr Kenny said Walsh was someone he “admired greatly”. He understood the parting was “not anything to do with remuneration or packages because the Irish Sports Council have put that in place”.

Speaking at a Fine Gael selection convention in Mayo, Mr Kenny said he was not aware of the “difficulties” between Mr Walsh and the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, but that potentially losing someone of his “calibre” ahead of the next Olympics was “unthinkable”.

Mr Walsh has been offered a contract to head up the women’s boxing programme in the USA. “If the contract is not signed, perhaps there is still an opportunity to retain the services of somebody who has been a brilliant servant of Irish boxing,” Mr Kenny said.

During his convention speech, Mr Kenny told his constituency colleague Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring to “talk sense to the IABA, we need that man [Billy Walsh] as head coach”.

Mr Ring said he was “very disappointed that Billy Walsh has decided to resign and go to America”. He said he was asking Walsh to consider his position.

“I’ve had ongoing discussions with the IABA, with the Sports Council to try to put this together and keep Billy Walsh in Ireland,” Mr Ring said. “I was told that the deal had been done, that they had shook hands on the deal.”

He said he had asked the head of the council to call Walsh and that he would be making himself available to help resolve the matter in the coming days.