Two neighbouring sporting parishes are preparing to go head to head for superiority next month - but they will be doing so in a boxing ring.
Better known for the keen rivalry between them on the GAA playing fields with their hurleys over the decades, it is boxing gloves that the 'players' will be using when Newport and Ballinahinch meet to decide the 'Kings of Keeper' in mid March.
Each of the sides have chosen a panel of 16 'players' who have gone into serious training in preparation for the battles between them which they are gearing up to fight out at a neutral venue.
Celebrated Olympic boxing champion, Katie Taylor could have an emerging rival as some of the females from both parishes have committed to undertaking in the fray to support the men in this contest to decide which parish is entitled to claim the ultimate 'Kings of Keeper' title.
Each side have revealed their chosen 16 players who have gone into training over the past week, committing to an intensive six week course of preparation, intended to have them 'fighting fit' for the big fight planned for March 16 at the Ormond Hotel, Nenagh.
In training for Newport GAA Club are Kieran O'Sullivan, Thomas Smalle, Billy Jones, Aoife Shinnors, Blaine Lenihan, Vincent Moloney, Martin Ryan, Dinny Ryan, Eoin Bonfield, Jacko Coffey, Aidan Moloney, Paudge Hogan, Margaret Hickey, Dave Hickey, Paul O'Gorman and Mark Harrington.
The Ballinahinch GAA panel who commenced training are Paddy Kelly, Liam Murphy, Kevin Mulcahy, Mairead Berkery/Hickey, James Younge, John Paul O'Sullivan, Philip Kelly, Philip Collins, Stephen Carroll, Donncha McGrath, Pat Crowe, Jimmy Jones, Maria Moloney, Shane Healy, Liam McGrath and Eoin Kelly.
The training got underway last week with professional training for all of the intending participants to run for a period of six weeks during which they will be instructed in both the regulations and the techniques of amateur boxing.
During the process the 'boxers' will be evaluated for both physical attributes and boxing expertise with the pairings to be announced closer to the date of the fight with the programme for the challenge to consist of 15 fights and each fight to consist of three rounds.
Each of the participants will have to pass a medical test before being allowed to take part and there will be a professional referee on the night with impartial judges to adjudicate on the outcome of each fight.
However, before anyone gets the impression that the whole exercise is a secret preparation for a return to the traditional faction fights of centuries ago, let's clarify that it is all in good fun and intended to raise some funds for the clubs in both parishes towards the activities when the 'players' return to their more regular sport of hurling and football for the 2013 season.
The evening being planned for the boxing ring at the Ormond Hotel, Nenagh on March 16 is being organised under the banner of While Collar Boxing, a professionally run operation, which offers participating groups the opportunity to raise some funding in the process of having an evening of entertainment for their supporters.
Pat Brennan, Chairman, Newport GAA Club explained: "It's really a fundraiser for the clubs, but it will also be a night of good fun for the supporters and the members of both clubs have entered into the spirit."
Each of the participants has a target of sponsorship to raise over the coming weeks. In addition each boxer will appoint four corner people who will officiate for the duration of the fight and they too have a set target of sponsorship to achieve.
Tickets for the evening, which will get under way at 7.30pm on Saturday March 16 and tickets are now going on sale.
Pat Brennan explained that the stage arrangements for the night and each of the fights are under the control of While Collar Boxing who receive a professional fee for the service.
12-week tin whistle course which is available free to the pupils. The Association has raised funds to take the boys to swimming and they contribute towards all the facilities at the school," she said.
Since her appointment, Marie has put a lot of effort into greater integration between the school and the community to generate more involvement of the community as the enrolment at the school continues to increase.
On Tuesday, work got underway on a further extension to cater for the ongoing increase in demand for places following the huge increase in population of the area over the past decade.
Two new rooms are being added for the next school year from September 2013 with enrolment scheduled to reach at least 135 pupils.
Work has just been completed on an extension to the Convent of Mercy Girls National School in the town.
The extension to the Boys National School is being totally funded by the Department of Education but the Parents Association continue to make a vital contribution to all facilities and activities within the school.
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