Bernard Dunne: Ireland’s vision to be boxing’s number one
On Joe Ward’s exposure: ‘The whole country should know his name, he is that good’
Bernard Dunne: ‘The vision is to be the number one high performance team in the world.’ Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
If Bernard Dunne’s vision becomes reality Joe Ward’s name will echo around the globe.
Despite the Irish boxing team returning from the world championships in Hamburg with a silver medal around the light heavyweight’s neck, Ward is yet to capture the interest of the wider sporting public.
“Three European gold medals, three world medals, all on the senior stage by the age of 23,” said Dunne. “The whole country should know his name, he is that good.”
Why don’t they?
“A couple of reasons. Joe is quiet. He probably doesn’t get enough TV exposure in terms of his fights. He’s just come back from fighting in a world final and I don’t think any of our home TV stations even bothered broadcasting any seconds, never mind a minute, of it.
“We had one TV camera show up at the airport to see him. And boxing is our number one sport.”
Dunne has remained a member of Jim Gavin’s Dublin football management despite the difficult transition into his new position as high performance director of the IABA.
“Boxing is my priority. Once [DUBLIN]doesn’t interfere with my priority, I’ll help. Jim and the team are very much aware of that. This is my job. I love doing both.”
Dunne, the former super bantamweight world champion, only sees crossover benefits from working alongside the best GAA panel in a generation and Ireland’s elite amateur boxers.
“I know what good looks like. I also know what great looks like. Right now we are building towards that. It is a fresh start for everybody right now; for our coaches, my supports staff and my boxers, male and female. There is no history with me.”
Internal struggles over IABA governance appear to have been allayed.
“We have a clear vision, a clear path and we have laid that out for everybody - not just the boxers, but staff, the coaches and the association - where it is we want to go and how we want to get there.
“I would expect them at this stage to completely understand what that is and what’s expected of them.”
Dunne accepts a long road to Tokyo 2020 lies ahead but the plan remains unambiguous.
“The vision is to be the number one high performance team in the world. We’re building on that. We finished ninth in the world at the recent championships. Our female team finished fourth in Europe. Our male team finished fourth in Europe. So we’re not a million miles off.
We’ve got a young team coming through. We’ve had a big transition from Rio. There has been change since I have come into the programme and some new faces. It will take a bit of time for it to settle down. I am probably still 12 to 18 months away from having what I want in place and ready to rock for the start of 2019.”
The inaugural Family SportFest will be taking place at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus on the 1st October.