During the second World War 1939-1945, popularly known as “the emergency”, units of the Local Defence Forces ( the L.D.F. ) were established in every town and village in Ireland and Slane was no exception. The local unit was based in the Parochial Hall. Activities were not confined to civic matters alone. Participation in sport was encouraged and members were entitled to compete at the various competitions organised at local, district and national level. Under the guidance of Bill Smith, office manager at Slane Mills, some of the local members, interested in boxing, trained for the L.D.F. Championships Drogheda District in 1945. They trained on the first floor of the Old Mill after work each evening. Those involved included Oliver Hussey, Larry Hussey, Willie Farrell, Joey Power, Jimmy Rock, Mattie Wall, Bert Gough and myself, Tony Heavey. Mattie Wall of Harlinstown won at welterweight, Joey Power of Fennor won at lightweight and I won the flyweight title. Slane received the Perpetual Cup for being the most successful unit in the championships. I then went on to the Army Boxing Championships but unfortunately lost in the final.
Johnnie Lyons, Tony Heavey and Eddie Colfer display some of their boxing trophies
Following these successes it was decided to form a boxing club and to affiliate to the Irish Amateur Boxing Association of Ireland. A committee comprising of Peter McGuinness, Dan Smith, Paddy Smith, Patsy Lane, Eddie Colfer, Johnnie Lyons, Sean Lane and Tony Heavey was formed. Dr. Bradley was patron and medical advisor. He took an active interest in all aspects of the club and acted as official timekeeper at all tournaments. The trainers were Tony Reynolds, Johnny Coyle and Paddy Connor, all very much to the fore in boxing circles not only in Drogheda but nationally as well. Use of the hall at Rossin was given free of charge by Mick Hoey. The ring was a permanent fixture. Slane Manufacturing Company donated the ring ropes from the previous training facilities in the Old Mill. Members usually cycled to Rossin for training, but more often than not, they ran all the way out and home again as part of their training schedule. Roadwork to build up stamina is a very essential part of training for the ring. After the war the L.D.F. was disbanded and the F.C.A. came into being. A new hall was built on the Mill Hill for the F.C.A. and training also took place there.
Back row from left: Eddie Colfer – Slane, Johnnie Lyons – Slane, Peter Lane – Rossin, Tony Heavey – Slane, Paddy Smith – Gernonstown, Trainer. All Meath Champions
Front: Patsy Crinion – Monknewtown and Bobby Doggett – Slane. Meath Juvenile Champions.
In conjunction with Drogheda Boxing Club, an international tournament against Wales was staged in Rathkenny Hall. Eamonn Harding was on the Irish team and he also fought in the return match in Wales. Sean Kearns, Ritchie Kearns and Harold Smith also featured on the programme that night.
Several tournaments were staged in the hall with some Irish champions taking part, notably Tony ( Socks ) Byrne, a bronze medal winner in the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956. Tommy Murphy, Paddy McDonnell, Oliver Mullen and Joe Foley, of Dunshaughlin, now a missionary priest in Mexico. Sean Lane was the uncrowned champion at lightweight. Time and time again he encountered Joe Foley, an experienced international, and he always performed admirably.
There were over forty members of the club at all levels. Paddy Smith, Johnnie Lyons and myself supervised the training of the juvenile members. Training was held three or four nights a week from September through to the following May and members competed regularly at various tournaments. The club enjoyed much success and won several Meath Championships at juvenile, junior and senior level. Unfortunately, the club disbanded in 1960 due to the inability of the committee members to devote sufficient time and commitment to the club, as most were now on shift work at Slane Manufacturing Company where they were employed.
Jimmy Gough – Dunshaughlin and Tony Heavey.