Irish boxers will leave nothing to chance at Worlds says rising star Brett McGinty
LEAVE nothing to chance – that is the message being drilled into the young boxers preparing to represent Ireland at next month’s World Youth Championships in St Petersburg.
A disappointing Olympic Games saw five of the seven Irish boxers competing – Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, Joe Ward, Steven Donnelly and Katie Taylor – lose out on split decisions.
Conlan’s controversial exit to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in particular led to worldwide outrage, while others could count themselves unlucky to have come out on the wrong side of the judges’ scorecards.
Although AIBA has since sidelined all 36 of the referees and judges who officiated in Rio de Janeiro, as well as dismantling its controversial ‘five-star’ officiating system, plenty of question marks still surround boxing’s world governing body.
John Conlan was one of the Irish coaching staff in Brazil and, alongside Billy McClean, is preparing the nine-strong team bound for Russia from November 17-26.
Conlan’s message has been simple, according to welterweight hopeful Brett McGinty.
“John’s always very positive no matter what, and a lot of what he has been saying in the training camp so far is that he doesn’t want any split decisions. Hit and don’t get hit – no split decisions.
“If possible, leave no doubt.”
It is a tough ask, especially on the international stage, but after a stunning year McGinty feels more than capable of performing at World level.
Having worked with Conlan prior to last year’s Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa, where McGinty won a silver medal, the Oakleaf boxer believes the Belfast-based coach can help take him to the next level.
He said: “Going to the Commonwealths was probably the best thing ever to happen to me because I haven’t been beat in Ireland since.
“I would have a lot to thank John Conlan for. Along with my own coach at home, Eugene O’Kane, John’s the best I’ve ever worked with. They’ve both done a lot for me.
“I used to be a come forward, aggressive boxer but I’ve brought a bit more into my game. I like to think I can deal with most of the guys I’ve ever faced, if not them all. John wants you to be a universal boxer, the way his son Michael is.”
And showcasing those skills on the world stage has been the number one target all year. The Irish team are currently training in Jordanstown alongside Scotland and Russia, and will head out to Russia for a camp with Cuba and the host nation.
As preparation goes, it couldn’t get much better, and McGinty believes it will stand him in good stead as he gears up for a first year at senior level.
“I’m glad to be here - from the start of the year my main objective was to get on the team for the World Youths,” said the 18-year-old, who attends Deele College in Donegal.
“After Christmas then there’s the Ulster seniors and the Irish seniors so I’ll be entering them. I’ve a busy year ahead because I’m doing the Leaving Cert as well, but I’d like to make my mark in the seniors.
“It has opened up a bit for the younger age group. We were chatting about that this week, how open most of the weights are. Obviously you still have a lot of the top guys there but as far as chances go, it’s a big, big year for us all.”
The Commonwealth Games in Australia in 2018 feature on McGinty’s radar, though he admits he dreams of following his friend Jason Quigley into the paid ranks eventually.
Ballybofey banger Quigley is currently an 11-0 middleweight, and is rated one of US promotional stable Golden Boy’s top prospects.
McGinty recalls Quigley pulling him out of class following a talk at his school to offer some words of wisdom, and the pair have kept in touch ever since.
Having picked the brains of the 25-year-old, McGinty knows the work that lies ahead if he is to follow in Quigley’s footsteps.
“I would like to have a go at the Commonwealth Games and see where I go from there. It’s a bit away but it’s something to build towards.
“Eventually though, I would like to see myself in the professional game. I’ll see how things go – if I was offered in the morning I would consider it, but you need the amateur pedigree behind you, in my opinion.
“Jason is somebody I would look up to, he’s some man. Seeing him go and win a World silver medal and turn pro with Golden Boy - and now he’s flying in the pro ranks - that’s a big motivation for me.”
A BELFAST schoolboy team completed an impressive double over their Dublin counterparts at Belfast’s Balmoral Hotel on Saturday.
Wins for Croistoir Browne (Oliver Plunkett), Padraig McCleary (Ardoyne), Bernard Agnew (Clonard), Dylan Eagleson (Bangor), Colm McCann (St Agnes’s), Jon McConnell (Townland), Mikey McGregor (Holy Trinity), Thomas McCann (St Paul’s), Reece Toner (Saints) and Jack McGivern (St George’s) helped Belfast to a 10-6 victory, following on from their win earlier in the summer.
Meanwhile, a County Antrim team is travelling to an international competition in Cyprus tomorrow.
Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist James McGivern (St George’s), JD Meli (Immaculata), Dylan Duffy (Pegasus) and Glengormley’s Edgar Vuskans make up the County Antrim team, which will be joined by Reece Toner, David McKeaveney, Tomas Toland and Nathan Watson from the Saints club.
Coaches Harry Cunningham snr and Harry Cunningham jnr will travel with the fighters.