The time for talking is almost through - and judging by the atmosphere at the final number of ‘Fight Night’ training sessions - things are about to get rowdy!
The 18 competitors are down to their last week’s training ahead of Saturday’s seismic coming together at the Blue Haven. And with 475 tickets currently shifted, the organisers are confident that interest will reach fever pitch in the remaining number of days, culminating in what is sure to be a sell-out event.
How both Osin O’Donnell and Paddy Gallagher will fare against the ‘Outsiders’ from the neighbouring Killybegs and Naomh Columba clubs will be one of the highlights of what is a superb bill of boxing on the night.
O’Donnell pits his wits against former county minor and current Naomh Columba senior Kevin McNern while Gallagher goes in against the fleet footed David Conwell from the Port Town.
Conwell’s speed is matched, and bettered some would argue, only by the quickness of his lip and the thrash-talking was out in force from the St Cummin’s Hill man on Friday night. With Gallagher absent at the weigh in due to work commitments in Dublin, Conwell wasn’t shy in relaying to whoever would listen, exactly what he has in store for his opposition this weekend.
“I’m confident and ready and I’m predicting this one won’t go the distance,” said an animated Conwell. “I’ve got the speed and the cuteness and I’m confident that will be enough. Paddy won’t be able to live with me and I’m expecting him to be huffing and puffing by the end of the second round. That’ll be my cue to send him home early and allow the spectators a chance to get to the bar!”
At the weekend, the self-christened ‘Brahma Bull’ Matthew Whyte, went through a number of sparring partners before trainer Gerard Given finally decided it was time to put him back on a leash.
Whyte was obviously revelling his his role as the ‘Alpha Male’ within the group at Friday’s training session until his opponent at Fight Night, David ‘Big Dave’ Classon, entered the building late into the session having just travelled back from Mayo, where he spends the working week.
Believe it or not, Whyte is actually the smaller man in Saturday night’s main event, giving up both height and biceps circumference to Classon after the tape measurer came out to settle a bet at the weekend.
But what started as a playful contest soon turned ugly. And after tumbling a table following that concession, Whyte challenged ‘Big Dave’ to a bench-pressing duel, but that didn’t materialise and Classon exited the building laughing, but content, that he’d stolen a psychological march of sorts on his vexed challenger.
“A big chicken... sure he’s after legging it,” said a flustered Whyte. “I’m sick of pounding bags and whatever Gerard (Given) throws in front of me at training. None of these bucks are even testing me. I want that clown in the centre of the ring and Saturday night can’t come quick enough.
“I’m tired of listening to him on Facebook and Twitter giving it the big talk. He says he’s getting ‘professional’ training down in Mayo. Well, we’ll finally get a look at what he has to offer at the weekend. All I have to say is ‘don’t blink’ and certainly don’t go to the toilet!”
Another who is keeping his cards close to his chest is Stephen ‘Red’ McHugh. He is in against Stephen Boyle at the Haven but he is confident their friendship won’t be an issue at the weekend.
“Not at all,” said McHugh. “To tell you the truth I haven’t been out that much lately anyway - I’m enjoying snuggling on the couch and watching DVDs too much. But you can only watch so many rom-coms...
“I stick on an odd Rocky film when she’s not looking and that gets me in the mood for Fight Night! I’m in good shape and I can’t wait to unload left and rights on that big head of his (Boyle’s)!”
Tickets for Saturday night’s event are still on sale, but you need to be quick. They are available at Diver’s Newsagents (Ardara), Sweet News (Killybegs) and Byrne’s Store in Glencolmcille. A bus service will also be provided in Ardara, leaving the diamond at 7pm sharp.
Ardara’s own Grainne Gavigan, currently starring on TG4’s Glor Tire, will provide the entertainment at the interval, while a superb night’s entertainment and dance will follow the boxing. For more information, log onto ArdaraGaa.ie.