Church gives blessing to its fighting cleric!
By paddy walsh
A Catholic priest was among a group of individuals who pledged yesterday to engage in an exchange of blows at a named venue in Letterkenny.
Fanad native, Fr. Damian McGroarty, voiced his commitment to the cause under the shadow of St. Eunan's Cathedral. But he does so with the complete blessing of church authorities who have backed his intention to fight.
The popular curate is one of 24 would-be boxers who will don the gloves for a special fund-raising Big Fight Night to be staged in the Clanree Hotel on April 2nd.
The group of combatants and organisers assembled outside the Cathedral to officially launch the event. Proceeds from it will go towards the Cathedral Restoration Fund.
Like many of his fellow fighters, it will be Fr. Damian's first time to step inside a boxing ring.
"I've nothing to be nervous about because I'm not fit," laughed the local cleric. "I've found that out during the training sessions. My calves are in bits."
In preparation for the big night, the boxers have been in strict training two nights a week at the Letterkenny Boxing Club gymnasium.
"I suppose you just push yourself as hard as you can," said Fr. Damian who was involved in athletics when he was younger. "This is a completely different discipline - even things like how you move your feet."
Overseeing yesterday's launch, Cathedral Administrator, Fr. Eamonn Kelly said they had already spent 500,023 euro on the 700,000 euro needed for the restoration work.
"You can enter for the Strictly Come Dancing competition," Fr. Damian told him.
And there was also a bit of early sparring between coordinator of the Big Fight Night, Joe O'Donnell, and his namesake, Fr. Joe O'Donnell, who is curate at the Church of the Irish Martyrs.
The boxers who have confirmed their participation in the fund-raiser to date include Gabriel McNulty, Ciaran Greene, Tommy Bonner, Tommy Friel, Ben Calonne, Malachy Dunleavy, Ricky Nugent, Martin Hilferty, Philip O'Donnell, Martin Friel, Sean Feeney, Michael Tunney, Stephen Shiels, Ian Oates, Adam O'Donnell, Ruairi Kelly, Darren Coyle, Liam Gordon, Sean O'Donnell, Johnny Moore, Michael Conlon, Ryan Harkin and Fr. Damian McGroarty. An all female contest has also been lined up for the night with Lisa Scott confirmed to date to take part while Tommy McCafferty will stage a kick-boxing routine as part of the night's action.