Billy Walsh resigns as Irish Boxing's High Performance Coach

BoxingBy Sean McGoldrick
Billy Walsh resigned from his post today
Billy Walsh resigned from his post today

JUST days after master-minding Ireland’s best ever performance at the World Boxing championships in Doha Billy Walsh has resigned as Head Coach of the High Performance Unit and the senior team.

At the end of the championships in Doha Walsh hinted that he was optimistic that there would be a successful outcome to his protracted contractual talks with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association. However, he dropped a bombshell today by announcing that he was quitting.

"Regrettably the IABA has not made it possible for me to continue on in the role as Head Coach of the High Performance Unit and senior team."

It is understood that the Wexford man had been offered a contract to become head coach of the USA’s women’s boxing team. However, he was anxious to stay in Ireland and had agreed terms of a new contract with the Irish Sports Council who fund his position.

However, the terms of the new contract were not acceptable to the IABA. For the past month Walsh has concentrated his energies on preparing the Irish men’s team for the World championships in Doha.

While he was abroad the IABA elected a new President Pat Ryan but it appears that there was no breakthrough in the negotiations.

In a statement today Walsh said: "Since February of this year I have been engaged in a process with the IABA to secure my future as Head Coach with the High Performance Unit and senior team.

"A protracted process that went on for eight months included numerous high level meetings that resulted in various proposals. In August a fair proposal was developed under the auspices of the Irish Sports Council (ISC) that was acceptable and fair but then not subsequently ratified by IABA.

"I was hopeful in recent weeks that a final proposal arising out of an approach in late September by the IABA would lead to a successful conclusion but unfortunately it didn’t."

Walsh went on to thank the Irish Sporting Council for their efforts in trying to solve the impasse which led him to resigning.

"I wish to express my gratitude to the Irish Sports Council for all their support and commitment to the IABA High Performance Programme over the course of the last 14 years and most recently in trying to broker an agreement on this matter," his statement read.

"The Sports Council have supported Irish boxing and worked tirelessly to find a solution."

Walsh’s resignation is a massive blow to Irish boxing just seven months away from the Rio Olympics. Ireland finished in a record high fourth place in the medal table at the World championships in Doha with Michael Conlan becoming the first Irish boxer to win a gold medal at the event.

It remains to be seen whether a last minute solution can be found but the IABA will come under enormous pressure to explain why they couldn’t hold on to the services of Walsh who had been Head Coach of the High Performance since it was set up in 2003.

Since then Irish boxers has won seven Olympic medals and they set for more success in Rio but the future of the IPU has now been plunged into doubt.

Ironically if, as expected, Walsh accepts the offer to join the USA women’s team his first assignment will be the women’s World championships in Kazakhstan in January where Ireland’s Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor will be bidding  to qualify for the Rio Games.