Report from UCC Kickboxing Club.
On October 23rd, three UCC Students and several former members of UCC Kickboxing Club Left Cork Airport bound for the WKA World Championships in Edinburgh, where the toughest and best international fighters amassed for a week of combat seen but once each year. Among The UCC contingent were Diarmuid MacSuibhne, UCC Kickboxing club coach for the past 6 years, Brian Kelleher, a former Cork minor footballer and Conni Vaughan, a sports studies student who dedicated her life to the sport of kickboxing since she started training in UCC.
After a breathtaking opening event at Edinburgh Castle where the competitors were preceded by a large pipers tattoo over the drawbridge of this Ancient Castle, the competitors were met by crowds of thousands from the City of Edinburgh who were excited to see warriors march through the forecourt of their historical stronghold.
The fighting commenced on Monday. All of the UCC competitors were on flying form but were worn down by the German support and prowess in all sections. Ms. Vaughan was very unlucky, achieving a split decision against a high profile German opponent. This was Brian Kelleher’s first International Tournament as a senior competitor, having competed on the Irish Junior Team in Germany in 2006, and fought valiantly against a much more experienced German opponent.
What Brian lacked in result, he made up for in spirit, a good first day as a senior international senior. Diarmuid MacSuibhne was also unlucky, facing a far taller opponent, but gained too many warnings for excessive contact to be in contention at the end of the fight, Diarmuid left the ring disappointed, black-eyed and ready for the Team Sparring event which would be held on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the Irish ladies team fought off stiff competition to achieve a Bronze medal in the team sparring section. When all other events of the day had finished, the Irish men’s team marched to their battlefield determined to gain retribution from their common defeats by the hands of the Germans in their individual events. Chants from the amassed German and Irish
Crowds filled the Meadowbank Arena in Edinburgh as both teams gallantly readied themselves for the war that was to ensue.
With Irish pride at stake, Irish Coach, Master Don Dalton, began the battle by engaging former UCC Coach Padraig O’Connor, who at this stage had assumed the demeanour of a bull against an experienced German. After a roar, Padraig engaged his German opponent with a barrage of blitz and kicking combinations that left the German crowd speechless. The German coach was forced to throw in the towel after one minute and thirty seconds to preserve what dignity the German competitor had left. MacSuibhne was next on off the blocks.
With a solid side Kick and a wreckingball-esque left hand, he left his German opponent rear-ended on the matt for most of the fight. In the end there could only be on winner, with a stream of blood gushing from a wound next to his right eye, MacSuibhne’s hand was raised and the Irish Team were on the way to obliterating the Germans. Cathal Hardiman, a graduate of Trinity College finished the Germans off in a nail biting finish, scoring a 6mpoint combination ending with a jumping front-kick to the face of his German opponent. The English awaited at the last hurdle.
Friday came slowly as Brian, Diarmuid and Padraig readied themselves for their fights. On the day itself, all their relatives and friends watched the live streaming of the day’s events in anticipation on events on 247.tv. Though the noise in the hall was deafening, Saighduirí na h-Éireann seemed almost mesmerized by what lay ahead of them, they were ready. Come evening time, it was time to rise up and fight.
All eyes were on the Irish team as they warmed up and jeered each other up, little children, though fighters themselves, watch in fear as the Irish punched each other bare-knuckled in a spirit raising exercise. As the teams lined up, the English looked fearful. Brian Kelleher pushed his lighter opponent through the ring with style, though was beaten tactically in earnest, and was unlucky at the end. Master Wolf of England then played his trump card, Gavin Williamson, 3 time WKA Heavy Weight World Champion, and Master Dalton decided that Diarmuid was the man for this task.
After a 20 second bombardment, MacSuibhne Gained the upper hand on Williamson, who was the larger of the two men. Diarmuid tossed and tumbled Williamson out of the Ring for the rest of the fight, and in the last 10 seconds Diarmuid scored with an impressive spinning back kick to Williamson’s solar plexus, landing his straight on his back. Diarmuid left out a roar to the crowd and raised his hand in triumph, only to have Williamson’s hand raised in his stead on a split decision. This was the end of the road for the Irish, with William Lowry, a Derry native and veteran of the ring losing his bout also.
Nevertheless, the Irish returned to Cork on the 30th of October with silver medals dangling from their necks. The following mornings training was filled with gallant stories and rabble rousing memories which would only serve to spur them on for the International Irish Open which was to follow 2 weeks later.