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Boxing

Dylan Duffy determined to make his mark on the international stage in Ireland bow

Killough lightweight Dylan Duffy pictured in action for a County Antrim select against Spain in 2015. Picture by Aidan O'Reilly
Neil Loughran

AS he prepares to represent Ireland for the first time, Dylan Duffy insist he is determined to get as much out of the experience – and the chance of learn from Irish head coach Zaur Antia – as possible.

The Georgian, along with coaches Dmitry Dimitruk and Jimmy Halpin, has spent the past six weeks preparing the 10-man Ireland squad for the first major international competition of 2017, which is being held in Braila, Romania.

Three-time Irish Elite champion Kurt Walker was drafted into the squad last week after James McGivern was forced to pull out, and hopes are high that Ireland can deliver a medal-winning performance once the games begin next Tuesday.

Lightweight Duffy, from the county Down village of Killough, may be one of the less well known members of the team, but he is keen to seize his chance to impress on the big stage.

“Other than the senior team, not too many others have had the chance to train with Zaur so it’s a big opportunity for me, for all of us,” said the 20-year-old, who boxes out of the Pegasus club in Downpatrick.

“I’m just soaking everything up, trying to learn off him and there’s guys who have boxed at major tournaments - the likes of Jordan Moore and Kurt Walker - so it’s good to have guys like that about who have a bit of experience behind them.

“I’m not apprehensive about it at all, it’s an experience that can only help my career so I’m looking forward to it.”

Having first laced up gloves at eight years old, Duffy is certainly not lacking for action, having competed through all the age grades.

He won an Irish title in 2013 but hopes this could be his breakthrough year.

Duffy was unlucky to lose out to Frankie Cleary in the Irish intermediate final last year but bounced back to beat Cleary’s club-mate Martin Sammon in the U22 decider.

That has given him confidence as he prepares to bring his skills to the international stage.

In 2015 he travelled to Washington as part of an Irish team competing in the Belfast Beltway Classic.

Brendan Irvine, now a three-time Irish Elite champion at two different weights and Rio Olympian, was also in that squad and he has shown Duffy the huge strides that can be made in a short space of time.

He said: “It’s mad that a year after we went away, he was boxing in Rio.

“It shows you how quickly and how well he developed just from getting down to Dublin and breaking into the squad.

“I’ve been training six weeks down there with Zaur and, okay it’s a short amount of time, but I can feel myself picking up new things I maybe wouldn’t have picked up on before.

“You just want to take as much of it on board as you can.”

YOUNG BOXERS PUT THEMSELVES IN FRAME FOR SHOT AT COMMONWEALTH YOUTH GAMES

TEN boxers have put themselves in the frame for a place on the Northern Ireland team that heads to next summer’s Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas.

The Ulster Council held a Commonwealth Youth Games competition at Belfast’s Dockworkers Club last week with a view to helping selection of a team, and Ulster High Performance coach John Conlan was in attendance to cast his eye over proceedings.

He will have plenty of food for thought after witnessing some impressive performances last Friday night, while three finals were decided by walkover.

At light-fly, Liam Glennon (St Joseph’) beat Diarmuid Toland Phoenix 5-0, while Holy Trinity’s Kian Bittles got the better of Star’s John Paul Hale 4-1 in the flyweight decider.

Colm Murphy (St George’s) continues to look a force after beating Star’s talented Lee McKee at 56kg, and Errigal lightweight Dominic Bradley caught the eye in seeing off Larne’s Kelvin McDonald.

At welterweight, Michael Hennessy (St Monica’s, Newry) beat Tyler McMullan (All Saints) 5-0, while there were walkover wins for Holy Trinity middleweight Kane Tucker and Dockers light-heavy Oran McNaughton.

For the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Youths, female boxers are permitted to enter, and on Friday Immaculata’s Caitlin Fryers edged Sionnan McKenna (Holy Family) at 51kg.

Clonard lightweight Shauna O’Callaghan scored a first round stoppage win against Catrina Moore (Abbey), while Abbey middleweight Rebecca Gilbert was handed a walkover win.

Team NI sent a team of five to the last Games in Samoa two years ago, and it is expected the same number will travel with Conlan to the Caribbean from July 18-23.

Therefore, Conlan is expected to conduct further trials in the coming months before a final squad is decided upon.

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Aaron McKenna with dad Fergal (right), renowned trainer Freddie Roach and Courage Tshabalala at Roach's famous Wild Card Gym. Light-welter McKenna is included on the Irish team that travelled to Russia yesterday for the Nikolay Pavlyukov tournament

LEFT HOOKS

Team Ireland flew to Russia yesterday for a training camp ahead of the Nikolay Pavlyukov Youth Memorial tournament in Anapa.

Ireland will take part in a training camp with the host nation, Cuba, Scotland, Ukraine and a number of other nations before the tournament begins on Wednesday, March 15.

Old School light-welter Aaron McKenna is Ulster’s sole representative on a squad that also includes Galway’s World Youth bronze medallist Gabriel Dossen

Billy McClean and Fergal Redmond will be working Ireland’s corner in Anapa.

Irish squad: 60kg: E Coughlan (Riverstown); 64kg: P Donovan (OLOL); 64kg: A McKenna (Old School); 69kg: G Dossen (Olympic); 69kg: J Harty (Rathkeale); 75kg: T Hyde (Setanta)

Team manager: Robbie Redmond; Coaches: Billy McClean and Fergal McKenna; R&J: Martin O’Neill

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THE Antrim BG4-7s got under way at the newly-refurbished Oliver Plunkett clubrooms last night, and continue at the Andersonstown Leisure Centre tomorrow before Thursday’s finals at the same venue.

Tomorrow’s night’s programme is as follows.

Semi-finals (7.30pm)

B4 39kg: H Waterworth (St John Bosco) v O McKenna (St Paul’s)

B4 50kg: B Brown (East Down) v T Orr (Lisburn)

B4 50kg: J Lyons (Scorpion) v R O’Donnell (East Down)

B5 50kg: T Arthurs (Ledley Hall) v C Sloan (Gleann)

B5 50kg: K McAllister (Scorpion) v C Sutcliffe (BABA)

B5 52kg: P McLarnon (BABA) v J McGivern (St George’s)

B5 57kg: T Maxwell (Canal) v D O’Brien (BABA)

B5 57kg: D O’Brien (BABA) v J Adams (All Saints)

B5 60kg: S McComb-Montgomery (St George’s) v R Kelly (Patsy Quinn)

B6 54kg: C Murphy (St George’s) v K Bittles (Holy Trinity)

B6 54kg: M McIlroy (Emerald) v C Convery (All Saints)

B6 60kg: B McReynolds (Holy Trinity) v T O’Halloran (St John Bosco)

B6 60kg: A Surgenor (Ligoniel) or T Heaney (Scorpion) v J Boyd (Gleann) or R Farrell (Ledley Hall)

B6 66KG: C McKinney (Holy Family) v T Duffy (Clonard)

B6 66kg: E McConnell (Larne) v T McMullan (All Saints) or C Irvine (Eastside)

Finals

B4 44kg: P McCleary (Ardoyne HC) v C Farrelly (St John Bosco)

B4 48kg: B Marshall (Emerald) v E Burns (Oliver Plunkett)

B4 63kg: L Boyd-Wisoner (Ledley Hall) v F Duffin (All Saints)

B5 54kg: JJ McArdle (Ligoniel) v B Morgan (Holy Family)

G5 57kg: E McKee (All Saints) v C Moore (BABA)

B5 66kg: J Tucker (Holy Trinity) v D Sofuyi (Ledley Hall)

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A COUNTY Antrim select will head for Paris next month to compete in the prestigious Montana Belts multi-nation competition.

Antrim are sending a young but strong-looking team this year, with Clonards’s Conor Quinn at bantamweight, Pegasus lightweight Dylan Duffy, Caoimhin Ferguson (Gleann) at 64kg, Holy Family’s 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist Aidan Walsh at welter, heavy-hitting Holy Trinity middleweight Caoimhin Hynes and Damian Sullivan of Emerald at 91kg+.

Holy Trinity’s Mickey Hawkins will coach the team, with an R&J set to be confirmed in the coming days.

The Montana Belts competition takes place from April 19-23.

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