Billy Walsh departs for US to take up new role
The IABA are set to respond to Kieran Mulvey’s criticism later on Thursday
Billy Walsh departs for the US from Dublin Airport. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
They are the pictures no Irish sports fan wanted to see - Billy Walsh has officially left Irish soil to take up his new role in the US, ruling out the possibility of any last minute reconciliation with the IABA.
Walsh left Dublin airport on Thursday morning, flying out to the US where he will head up the women’s boxing programme.
The Irish boxing head coach resigned on Monday after failing to reach an agreement with the IABA over a new contract.
The 52-year-old had previously agreed a new contract drawn up by the Irish Sports Council (ISC), which provides funding for Irish boxing. The IABA decided that they would not agree to considering the proposal and have not explained why, despite many requests to do so.
Instead they drew up a watered-down document which was entirely unacceptable to Walsh.
Following the huge volume of criticism levelled at the IABA since then, led by Irish Sports Council chairman Kieran Mulvey, the association are set to respond to the claims later on Thursday.
In doing so, they will look to draw a line and move on, even though it is likely to land them in trouble with the Irish Sports Council. Mulvey has reiterated his intention to put in place a funding review should the IABA not come up with an explanation for the agreement that was put in writing back in August subsequently failing to go before the board.
He told a Dáil Committee on Wednesday that it appears the fallout was nothing to do with financials.
“In this proposed contract, Billy Walsh was told that he could not engage with the Olympic Council of Ireland, the Irish Sports Council or the media without the written permission of the CEO. Imagine Joe Schmidt being told he had to contact Philip Browne every time he wanted to announce a team. This is unconscionable.
“What was Billy Walsh looking for? I think he was looking for respect. And my god did he deserve it. The second thing he was looking for was authority. Reasonable authority to run the high performance programme without petty bureaucratic interference. I mean, how can you have a situation in Doha where a boxer could win a medal then Billy having to turn to Des Cahill and say, ‘Sorry, I can’t give an interview, I have to get written permission.’
“That exposes a mentality to me. From what I know and understand what was going on, it was constantly to chip away at whatever authority Billy had achieved – and it wasn’t enormous. There was also a feeling sometimes that I get from meeting the IABA that there’s a resentment of the High Performance Unit and of the resources that go into it.”