And so here we are. Everyone (including myself) has become an amateur boxing expert in the aftermath of our most decorated team in history underperforming on the biggest stage.
I am coming at this from a slightly different angle so please bear with me. The first side of this is the team and coaches. The second is the management of the team. The former I think is not the disaster that everyone is talking about, the latter may be.
Firstly the team and coaches worked hard in training. They adapted to the new coaching structure and tried to implement any new ideas to a strict timeline. No one wanted to have the run up to the Olympics affected by any changes in coaching, but through bad management (more on that later) it was unavoidable. There is a fair gap in skill from our top 3 fighters to number 4. That is no disrespect to number 4, but the experience just isn’t there. It will be in time. Other countries know that if they beat Barnes, Conlan and especially Taylor they will medal. That is a huge amount of pressure to perform on the athlete. None of the top 3 have been smashed out of the games; you do not lose badly on split decisions. Barnes was at the wrong weight, that is management. Taylor won rounds 1, 3 and 4 but still lost the fight, that is sport, these things happen. And Conlan had that look in his eye that makes him a monster. The problem for him is on top of the above pressure, he now has a team and country on his back. He will be fine. He has his Dad in the corner who will guide him through to the podium. We should be looking at a final for him. I know we said that about everyone, but Conlan looks different to the rest of the team.
The coaches have tried to manage the difficulties of working with a big team along with have a board above them that appear to be struggling with the simplest of things. It will always take time to implement a new way of coaching, which happens in every sport. The coaches operate at a massively high level and have delivered previously. Time is needed here; time and 1 more member of the team to manage the team while the coach’s coach.
Billy Walsh leaving was a(nother) mistake by the IABA. I think they thought that the infrastructure was in place, and that anyone could step in and keep it moving forward. This is not the way real life works. A structure only works when you have the managers to keep the train moving. There is a safety and trust that came with Walsh being at the helm. He was the one point to get a yes or a no to any question. That person is not there. If someone is brought in, it will take more time to build that trust with the team.
Now for the management. It has been one disaster after another. Someone made the decision to allow O’Reilly get on the plane while out of shape and with a test failure behind him. Someone is involved with the ticketing issue that has made Ireland look like Tony Soprano (not in the good way). And to finish it, Pat Hickey has closed up shop and will not talk to a government minister about the investigation. Saying it will prejudice a court case in Brazil. That’s just not right, himself and the minister could have had a chat and it wouldn’t have gone further until the case was finished, but the Minister would have said ‘everything is grand’, or ‘we are going to conduct our own investigation’. Hickey also says that the IOC will investigate themselves. I’ll give you 2 guesses how that will go. Hickey is becoming a Blatter.
These are only my thoughts; feel free to share and discuss @nkeegan