Derry welterweight Brett McGinty hoping to bring Dean Walsh to book in Irish Elite Championship final

Brett McGinty has had a difficult two weeks balancing boxing and school exams, but he is hoping he can put all that behind him when he steps between the ropes against Dean Walsh tonight
Neil Loughran

Irish Elite Championships

BALANCING boxing with the books has made it a tough two weeks for Brett McGinty, but passing his first-ever Irish Elite Championship final exam tonight would the perfect end to a frustrating fortnight for the Derry teenager.

Eighteen-year-old McGinty is in his final year at Deale College in Raphoe, and mock exams have been ongoing throughout his bid to take the welterweight crown down in Dublin at the first time of asking.

“It would be safe to say I haven’t been putting a lot of work towards the school lately,” he says ruefully.

“The exams are just bang in the middle, you probably couldn’t have timed it any worse if you tried. Maybe I should bring books with me to training and have them in the corner during sparring so I can have a quick look between rounds…”

Trying to cram in study while honing his boxing skills at the Oakleaf club every night (and Saturday morning) may have proved difficult, but McGinty hasn’t looked too troubled en route to tonight’s decider.

But the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games silver medallist faces the biggest test of his fledgling senior career to date when he takes on Dean Walsh.

Wexford fighter Walsh, a nephew of former Irish head coach Billy, is a three-time Irish elite champion at light-welter but has stepped up to 69 kilos for this year’s competition.

And, although he has already accounted for one Ulster fighter this year after beating Omagh’s Tiernan Bradley last week, McGinty feels he has what it takes to end Walsh’s winning run at the National Stadium.

He continued: “All the pressure’s on Dean Walsh so I’m just going to go in there and, put it this way, I’ll be hard to beat.

“I’m boxing somebody who, in his own right, deserves to be confident because he’s entered the seniors three times and won it every time, but that was at a lower weight.

“It’s new territory for him and it’s new territory for me. I’ve only had two senior fights, I’ve never even been at the senior finals and now I’m in them - it’s a nice feeling.

“Dean Walsh is a nice tidy boxer, there’s not a lot he does wrong, but there’s not much he does that would catch the eye. I just need to get in his face and take him out of his comfort zone.

“I’ll be coming forward and if he wants to meet me halfway, happy days, but if he doesn’t then I’m just going to have to hunt him down.”

There is plenty of other Ulster interest elsewhere on tonight’s bill too.

Rio Olympian Brendan Irvine will be going for a third Irish elite title in-a-row when he faces Mayfield’s Thomas McCarthy in the flyweight final, while Holy Trinity’s Sean McComb – a two-time lightweight champion now campaigning at 64kg – should have too much for the talented Wayne Kelly.

St John Bosco light-fly Kristina O’Hara opens the show when she goes for her first Irish elite title against Shannon Sweeney, while there a couple of all-Ulster clashes that could go either way.

Reigning bantamweight champion Kurt Walker will be fancied to get the better of Old School’s Stephen McKenna, but it promises to be a cat and mouse encounter.

Meanwhile, at 49kg, Derry’s Blaine Dobbins and Darryl Moran will go toe-to-toe in a bid to land a first Irish elite crown.

Light-heavyweight king Joe Ward is also back in action as he faces Dublin’s Anthony Browne.

Tonight’s finals (7.30pm start)

48kg: S Sweeney (St Anne’s) v K O’Hara (St John Bosco, Belfast)

56kg: K Walker (Canal) v S McKenna (Old School)

69kg: G Duffy (Bray) v G Walsh (Spartacus)

57kg: D Duffy (Mulhuddart) v M McElligott (St Michaels Athy)

81kg: C Connolly (Mourne GG) v L Houlihan (Crumlin)

49kg: D Moran (Illies GG) v B Dobbins (St Joseph’s, Derry)

81kg: J Ward (Moate) v A Browne (St Michael’s, Dublin)

60kg: K Harrington (Glasnevin) v S O’Keeffe (Clonmel)

60kg: G Bates (St Mary’s, Dublin) v P Mongan (Olympic)

64kg: E Agnew (Dealgan) v C Ginty (Geesala)

64kg: S McComb (Holy Trinity) v W Kelly (Ballynacargy)

52kg: B Irvine (St Paul’s) v T McCarthy (Mayfield)

69kg: D Walsh (St Ibar’s) v B McGinty (Oakleaf)

75kg: E Brennan (Glasnevin) v S Broadhurst (Dealgan)

91kg: D O’Neill (Paulstown) v K Okungbowa (Athlone)

91+kg: M Keenan (Rathkeale) v T Carty (Glasnevin)

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