Dunne. WARDS OFF DANGER Ward Dublin; High Performance boss secures light-heavyweight's amateur status.
Byline: MICHAEL SCULLY
BERNARD Dunne bagged big wins on his way to becoming a world champion - now he's doing the same as Irish boxing's new High Performance boss.
Dunne, inset, deftly negotiated the IABA's civil war following his appointment when, despite internal objections, he travelled as Ireland's team manager for the European Championships in the Ukraine.
The team returned home with three medals, the first big victory of the Dubliner's reign.
The second and third followed quickly afterwards - with Joe Ward and Sean McComb persuaded not to turn pro ahead of next month's World Championships in the Ukraine.
Dunne's man-management skills came to the fore as Ward flirted with the idea of quitting the amateur game.
With fellow Rio Olympians Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan already gone from the High Performance unit, plus influential coach Eddie Bolger, Irish boxing couldn't afford to lose the 23-year-old.
Dunne (right) went to work on Ward, outlining his vision for the Moate light-heavyweight, who has already won a silver and bronze at the Worlds, to lead the Irish team into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"I want him to lead our team into the next Olympic Games. I've made that pretty clear to him," said Dunne.
Ward himself speaks highly of Dunne's man-management skills, and how his new boss helped to secure the funding Ireland's biggest Olympic medal hopeful wanted for the next three years from Sport Ireland.
Dunne feels those skills were acquired during the time he spent as part of Jim Gavin's backroom team with the Dublin footballers.
"This was my fifth season with them, and you start to see man-management skills there from working with individuals," said Dunne.
"I think I've settled into the job well and dealt with any issues that have arisen - the big one being Joe.
"Man-management is a big part of the job and making sure not just the boxers are happy, but the coaches too.
"We need everyone to be in a good place for the whole team to perform."
Following the wreckage of Rio and no podium places, the subsequent high-profile departures and the damaging in-fighting among officials, suddenly Irish boxing is in a much healthier place than seemed possible.
The good news continued yesterday with confirmation super-heavyweight Dean Gardiner has been added to the now five-strong team for the Worlds as a lucky loser.
Dunne believes Irish boxing is on an upward curve again.
"People talk about that (the departures) being a negative but that happens every Olympic cycle or every second one, people go pro and people step away," he said.
"We started afresh with a new team and it's already progressing. Boxing is already coming back up.
"We're trying to do the right things in terms of preparation, where we're going and how we're getting ready for major championships. And our athletes are enjoying it."
MEDAL HOPE Joe Ward sparring in Dublin yesterday