Andy Lee’s fans hushed for fear of upsetting Mass!

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

Put 'em up for the last time: The referee declares a draw between Peter Quillin and Andy Lee after their middleweight world title fight. Picture: Tim Hunger/Sportsfile
ANDY Lee’s supporters got so excited as he fought back from two “knockdowns” against Peter Quillin that a pub owner had to hush the crowd for fear of disturbing Mass in Castleconnell Church.

ANDY Lee’s supporters got so excited as he fought back from two “knockdowns” against Peter Quillin that a pub owner had to hush the crowd for fear of disturbing Mass in Castleconnell Church.

But it wasn’t a long Midnight Mass revellers were disturbing - it was the following Sunday.

Bradshaw’s Pub in Castleconnell, home to ‘Andy Lee’s Corner’, was packed on Sunday for a rerun of the fight.

“There was great excitement on Saturday night for the build-up. Then on Sunday we showed repeats and had a big crowd in. They couldn’t wait to see it,” said Padraig Power, proprietor.

“We were delighted with the result. He was knocked down twice but then to come back, knock him down and keep going - that’s Andy all over. They were roaring at the TV. I had to tell them to hush up a bit or they would hear them inside in the church! He did Castleconnell proud and he will be coming home with the belt. Hopefully he will drop in and see his own corner when he his home. It is all ready for him,” he added.

Andy flew from New York to France on Sunday. He was in Dublin on Wednesday night to appear on Second Captains Live on RTE2.

Apart from that David McHugh, director of Line Up Sports Media Entertainment, said Andy is keen to keep a low profile and take a break.

“It’s been a long 14 week camp in the build up to the Quillin fight and he needs to recover physically and mentally. It’s just a time for reflection and rest and planning, but most of all Andy will benefit from a rest and some time with family and friends,” said David, who is not sure when Andy will go to Limerick “but he does intend to go, with a view to spending some time with his family”.

All the talk now is where the fight against the mandatory challenger - Billy Joe Saunders - for Andy’s WBO middleweight world title belt will take place.

Andy’s trainer Adam Booth tweeted a picture of Thomond Park on Sunday which was retweeted by Andy.

But Saunders’s promoter, Frank Warren said on Monday he expects the fight to go where it makes the most money for the boxers.

“Ireland would be a big one but in England it would be really huge. You would generate more money on the gate in England because of the difference between the euro and pound at the moment. I’d be really disappointed if it did less than 30,000 in an outdoor venue,” he said.

David says is it is all speculation at the moment. But it is a nice position to be in and as Andy tweeted on Monday: “Exactly 1 year ago today I fought Frank Horta on a small show in the middle of nowhere. Today, I’m world champion... Don’t ever give up!”

Wherever it happens Andy will have a large fanbase to cheer him on - including his long-time friend from Castleconnell, Paul O’Donoghue. He had the best seat in the house on Saturday as he was ringside.

“It was disappointing that Quillin didn’t make the weight. After the first round you didn’t think it was going to be Andy’s night but he dug deep and came back to get a draw. He was unlucky that the third round knockdown wasn’t really a knockdown - that could have been the difference,” said Paul. Quillin stood on Andy’s toe - the referee acknowledged it after the fight and said it was a mistake.

But after hitting the canvas in the first round and the unlucky break in the third, another boxer could have thrown in the towel.

“To come back from all that... Maybe a lesser fighter mightn’t have came back. The doctors were checking him but and another fighter might have taken an out,” said Paul.

But that’s not Andy Lee. Paul caught up with him for an hour in New York on Sunday.

“He was sore. He tore a muscle in his arm and he has the cut on his eye. He is probably a bit disappointed with the first round but to come back like that...” said Paul, who said there was a brilliant atmosphere in the Barclays Centre.

One man who couldn’t be there was Castleconnell parish priest, Fr Brendan Kyne, who is looking forward to being at the next fight.

“I got an invitation to be there but due to a pastoral commitment I couldn’t go. I watched it with friends. There was a tremendous air of excitement. Initially, we got a bit of a fright but Andy was so determined. He showed tremendous resilience and courage to persevere. He showed the class of a boxer that he really is - a world champion,” summed up Fr Kyne.