Irish boxing has been dealt a body blow ahead of Rio 2016, with the news that head coach Billy Walsh is set to depart the national setup to take up a position in the USA.
With the outrageous details of Walsh's potential departure being revealed by both Kevin Byrne in the Irish Sun and Vincent Hogan in the Independent, there remains a sense that tensions between 'the suits' at Irish boxing's High Performance and the IABA have once again taken precedence over the well-being of the nation's coaches and athletes, in a sport which has produced 16 of Ireland's 28 Olympic medals.
One of those Olympic medals belongs to current European champion Michael Conlan - the Belfast switch-hitter who cruised to gold in Bulgaria just a fortnight ago, and has opened at 5/1 to repeat that feat in Rio next summer. Speaking to Balls.ie, Conlan revealed the void his head coach Walsh would leave were he to depart for a position running the USA women's boxing programme:
It's a big loss if it happens, especially before Rio. I only found out from the paper so I was quite surprised when I saw it!
He has been a very important part of the development. Him and Zaur [Antia] together make an amazing team.
I don't know what direction Irish boxing will go if either of them left.
Walsh has previously been 'tapped up' by both English and Australian boxing associations, but opted to remain in the Ireland fold, playing a large part in its transformation into one of the most respected and successful in the sport.
The Wexford man's innovative approach to the sport in Ireland, along with Georgian technical specialist Zaur Antia, has produced a number of genuinely elite talents, one of whom being Conlan himself. And the Euro champ made his feelings clear about the potential departure of either - or perhaps both - coaches:
I don't think there is many coaches in the country with their knowledge. Billy and Zaur have had a big effect on my career.
They have helped me, along with my father, turn into a world class fighter. I would not like to see either of them leave.
I think they are the backbone of Irish boxing.