The Brawl in the Hall – My God it was aptly Titled

By God was it aptly named – or what? The CastleIsland Desmonds GAA Club promoted Brawl in the Hall was all that and more. It will probably stand as the greatest and most memorable, single night event in Castleisland’s long and chequered history of such occasions.

It had everything one could ask for. It promised a lot and gave much more than anyone could have imagined or hoped for.

There were bouts that fulfilled their billing and there were bouts / fights that fitted the title of the event itself so well.

No Holding Back

There was no holding back in many of the fights. There’s something of a disarming honesty about boxing. The combatants are locked in a stare for the duration and they know from the windows to the soul how their opponent is feeling.

And the crowd? The rougher it got, may God forgive us all, the more racous we got – and louder with every bit of flying leather. And leather did fly.

The referees, Pa O’Brien from Ballyduff and Paul Griffin from The Crown played blinders in managing the bubbling aggression in some of the fights.

They swooped like hawks on any apparent injury or shortness of breath and fixed headgear and checked gum-shields to give the combatants a vital breather without making an issue of it.

Adjust Headgear

In some cases they simply had to adjust headgear – so ferocious were the exchanges. The good thing about all of this is that you don’t have to take my word for it. A blow-by-blow video, detailing every hop, step and jump was made by a team of very dedicated media students from ETB Tralee.

If that doesn’t sell here like the proverbial hotcakes I’ll eat my souvenir T-shirt without salt.

In fact, a premiere of the edited and finished article could well rake in a lot more funding if it could be arranged for a public showing.

Every gloved and head-geared participant who stepped into the ring last night deserved the height of praise – and they got it. They willingly went in there for the good of the community and put all their strengths and weaknesses on a very public platform.

Both Genders

There were fights of both genders which got the crowd on its feet in spontaneous bursts of applause and appreciation. As far as the organisers are concerned, this night threw down so many yard-sticks by which other events will be judged.

For drama, effort and guts and the behind-the-scenes work, it is very hard to imagine anything that could surpass what we witnessed last night.

That he loves the limelight is a fact, but Gerdie ‘Don King’ Murphy was made for an event like last night’s and it was made for him.

His phenomenal work-rate over the past couple of months just gathered the kind of momentum which showed itself off in the packed Castleisland Community Centre.

He was generous with his praise for the help he got in getting the idea over the proverbial line.

He mentioned the Sliabh Luachra Boxing Club members for their co-operation over the past couple of months and their vital presence in the corners and on timekeeping last night.


Tom McCarthy was thanked for the behind-the-scenes blinder he played with all the contestant interviews in the dressing rooms.

The management of the community centre got a well deserved thank you as did the media: Kerry’s Eye, Sliabh Luachra Outlook, Radio Kerry, The Kerryman and The Maine Valley Post.

There was a special word of praise and thanks for Micheál Walsh for his dedication and work on the fight night programme. Micheál is the second generation at the Tralee Road based Walsh Colour Print empire.

Like everything good that happens in Castleisland, last night’s event had massive participation and support from all of our neighbouring parishes and villages.

However, MC Murphy kept the most lavish praise of all ’til last. After presenting bouquets of flowers to Sliabh Luachra Boxing Club members: Carmel O’Connell, Jennifer O’Sullivan-Coffey and Abina McSweeney, he turned his full attention to Pat Hickey.

All Ages Together

What he didn’t lay on him in terms of admiration, praise and thanks wouldn’t be worth mentioning.

It was an amazing night for the community here and another good thing about it is that it drew members of all ages together.

Better still, there was a huge number of impressionable young people there to witness what a community can achieve when its inherent goodwill can be harnessed like this.

I deliberately avoided any description of the fights which took place last night as I’m convinced the video will do the event justice and I don’t want to spoil the many surprises.

Finally: He may have driven some of us half mad over that past month or so, but you’d have to forgive and even love the hoor for the way he drove this event to what it became.

The final and longest bow is yours Mr. Murphy.