Bantry boxer (14) picks up West Cork sports award after winning national title
BY KIERAN McCARTHY
JACK Desmond knows how to pack a punch.
The Bantry teenager (14) has been boxing for four years, and in each year he has won county and Munster titles; that's eight medals in an already-busy trophy cabinet. He's never been beaten in these competitions.
He went one step further in April when winning his first national title (Boy 4 39kg boys) at the third attempt, having lost in national finals in 2014 and 2015.
After beating Byron Jordan of St Aidan's Boxing Club, Wexford, in the All-Ireland final at the national stadium, Jack's coach â and head coach of Bantry Boxing Club â Andy Kerins said: âI could just sense something in Jack this season that told me he was going to be very hard to beat this year. There is a steely determination about Jack and he has matured into a very good little boxer.'
Jack's All-Ireland success, and his character to bounce back from two previous national final defeats, were recognised recently when he was presented with the Celtic Ross West Cork Youth Sports Star second quarterly award.
Each year, four of West Cork's top young sporting talents win a quarterly award with one overall winner, the West Cork Youth Sports Star, then honoured at the gala banquet night, to be held in early January 2017.
âThis year meant a lot to me, winning the national final. I had lost two finals and I couldn't lose a third one,' Jack explained.
His record to date is knock-out quality, with total dominance in county and Munster championships.
âI started boxing when I was ten. I hadn't done anything like it before and the more I got into it, the more I liked it,' the ColÃ¡iste Pobail BheanntraÃ student explained.
âMy dad (Andrew) always liking boxing, he boxed with Kenmare Boxing Club when he was a younger and he always said he'd take us boxing, and he did.'
Andrew also coaches Jack, assisting Andy Kerins at the popular Bantry boxing club, and he's rightly proud of his son's achievements.
âHe has done fantastically well, and it says a lot about his character that he won the national title this year â on a unanimous decision â after being disappointed in his previous two national finals,' Andrew said.
âJack already has his goal for next year: to win county and Munster titles again. He's never been defeated in those competitions and he wants to keep it that way.'
Andrew and his wife Marguerite have their hands full with four boys at home, all boxers. Jack's the oldest, James is next in line and a two-time Munster champion, while Paddy (10) and Con (8) are keen to make their presence felt in the ring, too.
So, of the four brothers, who wins?
âJames, he's the heaviest!' smiles Jack, who made a big impact in his first year boxing, 2014.
âWhen I won my first county title I was delighted, I didn't expect it, and I went on to get to the national final that year. That was only my fifth fight ever, it was unheard of for someone to do that, to get to a national final after such a short time boxing. I lost that final but I was still delighted that I got that far,' he said, and feeling that he's getting better ever year he's already looking forward to getting back to training in September.
âIt's the off-season at the moment but I'll be back in a few weeks, getting ready for a few different shows and the championships (county) start in February,' he explained.
âI play GAA with St Colum's, too, and boxing helps you to keep really, really fit. Even if you don't want to fight competitively it will keep you fit for football and hurling, and that's another big advantage.'
What also helps Jack is having Andy Kerins, as well as his dad Andrew, in his corner. Andy set-up the boxing club in Bantry in 2001 and it continues to make the headlines. Now there are five coaches in the club, with Kerins joined by Andrew Desmond, Ken Doyle, Ger O'Brien and Sinead Murphy, with up to 25 members now involved in the club.
âAndy's an unreal coach, one of the best, we are so lucky to have him in Bantry, I wouldn't be where I am without him,' said Jack, the latest quarterly winner of the Celtic Ross West Cork Youth Sports Star.
â¢ If you want more information about Bantry Boxing Club contact head coach Andy Kerins, 087-6251563.