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How former Antrim captain Ciaran Barr navigated Belfast's Troubled waters

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Ciaran Barr trying to hold off Offaly’s Martin Hanamy in the 1989 All-Ireland SHC semi-final in Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Ciaran Barr trying to hold off Offaly’s Martin Hanamy in the 1989 All-Ireland SHC semi-final in Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Ciaran Barr trying to hold off Offaly’s Martin Hanamy in the 1989 All-Ireland SHC semi-final in Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

In Donald McRae's brilliant book, In Sunshine or In Shadow, he outlines how boxing survived and thrived in the North during The Troubles.

Somehow, the sectarian rules that dominated every other aspect of life didn't apply to those from the squared circle. Boxing and boxers operated outside of those confines. Fighters from one side of the divide could travel and fight in the other's territory, with the blessing and under the protection of the paramilitaries from the other side.

That level of cooperation even extended to The Maze, with Loyalist and Republican prisoners sharing equipment as they trained under the gaze of the renowned trainer Gerry Storey. The gear was thrown across the fence for one side to use, then thrown back over.