Ulster Elite winner Steven Donnelly going for gold at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games
STEVEN Donnelly won a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but, looking back, he knows he should have taken the gold.
After winning an engrossing Ulster Elite middleweight championship final at the Ulster Hall on Friday night, Donnelly says he is determined to “go out with a bang” at next summer’s Games on the Gold Coast in Australia.
Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan were Northern Ireland’s gold medal winners four years ago while Michaela Walsh and Joe Fitzpatrick won silver and All Saints, Ballymena fighter Donnelly – who lost a competitive semi-final to India’s Mandeep Jangra – was one of five bronze medalists. He is determined to go a stage further next summer.
“I’m not happy with the bronze at all,” said Donnelly after his split decision win over Camlough ABC’s Fearghus Quinn.
“I should have won gold in Glasgow, I was more than capable of winning gold but I’m a lot more experienced now and hopefully I’ll show that in Australia.
“I’ve gone out with a bang now, that’s probably the last time I’ll box at the Ulster Hall. I’ll stay on to the Commonwealth Games, I’ve been before and I know the Gold Coast will be good. Hopefully I’ll go out with a bang over there.”
Talented Armagh Gaelic footballer Quinn laid down an aggressive marker in the opener when he went straight at his more experienced opponent. His workrate and punch variety allowed him to shade the round but, as expected, streetwise Donnelly rallied in the second and landed some eye-catching shots from a backfoot defence.
In the early stages of the third, Quinn looked the more likely winner but Donnelly found the energy to produce a quality finish and by the time timekeeper Mickey Walsh hammered his shillelagh off the ringside table to signal 10 seconds to go, the county Antrim man was in control of the contest. He won on split decision.
“Big respect to Fearghus Quinn, whatever way the result went I wouldn’t have complained there,” said Donnelly.
“He conducts himself well, unlike others. It was a very tough fight and I dug in and worked for it, as you have to do to win your sixth Ulster title.
“I knew I’d be up against it, he’s a tough man and he has had some great wins. I’ve moved up to middleweight (75kg) and I’m only weighing 72 kilos but I can’t make 69kg any more. I feel stronger, I have no weight problems and I’m only getting started.
“That’s my second fight back since June so I’m not even close to my best, I know I can do a lot better.”
He added: “I should have boxed him but I knew he was going to be there and I just said ‘I’m going to match him here’. I didn’t think I had it in my legs to move for three rounds but I just dug in and caught him with the more convincing shots in two and three but I’d maybe give him the first round.
“I can’t see me staying around for another year. It’s hard I’ve lost my license I’ve had to get a lot of help with transport. I worked hard to get that win, I’ve had to get over a lot of mental barriers as well but as usual I got over them and came out on top.”
“Big respect to Fearghus and I’m just delighted, I’m very proud of myself.
Ulster Elite Championships results
Female light-fly: Kristina O’Hara (St John Bosco, Belfast) bt Chloe Fleck (Canal) UD
Light-fly: Ricky Nesbitt (Carrickmacross) w/o
Female flyweight: Ceire Smith (Virginia) bt Carly McNaul (Ormeau Road) UD
Flyweight: Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s) bt Conor Quinn (Clonard) UD
Bantamweight: Eamon McNally (St Michael’s) bt Conor Kerr (Glengormley) SD
Female 57kg: Michaela Walsh w/o
Female 60kg: Alanna Nihell w/o
Lightweight: Sean Duffy (Holy Trinity) bt James McGivern (St George’s) UD
Light-welter: Sean McComb (Holy Trinity) v Caoimhin Ferguson (Gleann) UD
Welterweight: Aidan Walsh (Monkstown) bt Brett McGinty (Oakleaf) SD
Female 75kg: Sarah Close (Holy Family) w/o
Middleweight: Steven Donnelly (All Saints) bt Fearghus Quinn (Camlough) S/D
Female 81kg: Caroline Connolly (Mourne GG) w/o
Heavyweight: Damien Sullivan (Emerald) bt Jason Baron (Holy Trinity) SD
Super-heavyweight: Joe Joyce (Erne) w/o