Speaking to the Connaught Telegraph at the launch of a prestigious tournament between an Irish garda selection and a team representing the New York Police Department in the Welcome Inn Hotel, Castlebar, on Saturday, October 5, the Westport-based TD said he hoped to fund the sport even more in the coming years.
“When you see events of this nature coming to Mayo for the first time, it reflects very favourably on the way the sport is being run.
“During these difficult economic times, sport has brought people together more than ever before, which is great for the mind and spirit.
“I hope to be in a position to allocate more funding in the years ahead and I encourage everybody to get involved in an activity of their choice.”
The tournament in the Welcome Inn Hotel is restricted to 350 and fans are urged to buy their tickets (€20) as swiftly as possible.
An Garda Síochána and the NYPD have been running the annual event since 1986 and it was staged in Ireland for the first time last year when 1,200 spectators turned up at the Wright Venue, Swords, Co. Dublin.
Now the NYPD is bringing a 15-strong squad to the west of Ireland for a event which is part of The Gathering programme for Mayo compiled by the county’s coordinators, Padraig Philbin and Michelle Staunton.
Superintendent Ger Donnelly praised the work of An Garda Síochána Boxing Club in bringing the event to Mayo.
A key feature of the promotion is raising funds for the Jack and Jill Foundation.
During the tournament, an auction will be held for a number of signed framed jerseys presented by the Irish rugby team, the Irish soccer team, the Dublin and Kilkenny All-Ireland winning teams, the Irish elite boxing team and the Mayo senior football squad which, hopefully, will have won the Sam Maguire Cup ahead of the event.
All funds raised will be added to the €150,000 raised by the Garda Boxing Club in the past three years through ‘Kops4kidz’, ‘Fighting for Ronan’ and other initiatives.
The attendance at the launch included the Mayor of Castlebar, Councillor Noreen Heston, former European boxing champion Ray Moylette, former Olympian, Garda Adam Nolan, Garda David Clarke, a member of the Mayo senior football squad, and Sean Horkan, who was manager of the Irish boxing team at the Barcelona Olympics.
Garda Darren Conlon, public relations officer of the Garda Boxing Club and a native of Ballyhaunis, said the response from the community had been overwhelming to date and he had no doubt the event will be a sell-out.
“I have received nothing but support since the proposal was first mooted and I believe the event will be a celebration of Mayo’s sporting spirit,” he added. The winner of two All-Ireland titles during his own boxing career, he added he was optimistic of the promotion being a sell-out.
Darren’s brother David, who is also a member of An Garda Síochána, is the coach of the Irish garda boxing team.
The NYPD was represented at the launch by Danny Tango who spoke with great humour and colour about his love of Ireland and how much his colleagues were looking forward to visiting Castlebar in October.