Published: Wednesday, 25th January, 2012 9:30am
Some of the biggest names in Westmeath GAA are swapping their football boots for boxing gloves this Saturday night, January 28, to participate in the Westmeath Footballers' Fight-Fest at the Mullingar Park Hotel .
A fundraiser for the senior and U21 football squads, the organisers of 'Fight Fest' have put together a mouth watering 13-bout programme that will see many of Westmeath's footballing stalwarts enter the boxing ring for the first time.
Top of the bill is the contest between footballer Martin Flanagan and hurler Brendan Murtagh. Both men have been going very well in training over the past few weeks.
According to organiser Derek Sheridan, Flanagan is one of the novices that have impressed coaches Davy Joe and John Joe Joyce with his "natural talent", while Murtagh's exceptional level of fitness and athleticism means that this fight could go either way.
Another contest that is sure to excite the large crowd that is expected to attend is Denis Glennon versus Michael Ennis.
Members of the Westmeath team that made history in 2004 by winning the Leinster championship, both footballers turned fighters will be hoping to get one over on their team-mate.
Other bouts to look out for include the clash of Alan Mangan and Danny McDermott, who were both members of the Westmeath ladies backroom team during last year's All Ireland winning campaign. Just before them on the bill, Longford football legend Liam Tierney and Ballymore's Willie Finnerty will be flying the flag for the over 50s.
County camogie star Denise McGrath takes on her footballing counterpart Michelle Malone from Moate, while the sparks are sure to fly when Mullingar Shamrocks' Paddy Joyce comes up against Danny Foster of Shandonagh.
MCs on the evening are former Offaly great Michael Duignan and local favourites Paul Doolin and Gary Nolan, while football legends Darragh " Sé, Bernard Flynn, Tommy Carr and Tomás " Flatharta have been lined up as judges.
Derek Sheridan said that all of the 26 participants had given their all in the run up to the event and that the training sessions under the expert gazes of the Joyces should ensure that the boxing skills on display should surprise a few people.
"Paul Sharry, Kevin Maguire, Denis Glennon and Martin Flanagan have really impressed the coaches with their natural ability, but all of the participants have put in a huge effort in training and their won't be any one sided contests."
The main sponsor of the event is St Francis Health Centre in Mullingar. A limited number of tickets are still available for Fight Fest and can be purchased from participants, all county footballers, the Sports Outlet in Mullingar and from members of the football board.