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Conor Quinn looking forward to renewing acquaintances with Brendan Irvine down the line

Conor Quinn and Brendan Irvine go toe-to-toe during their Ulster Elite Championship final meeting at the end of November. Picture by Matt Bohill
Neil Loughran

CONOR Quinn is looking forward to pitting his wits against Brendan Irvine in the future after coming up just short in the final of Ulster Elite Championships back in November.

This weekend the Clonard ace steps between the ropes for the first time since that November 24 defeat, taking on Mark Corcoran (Corinthians) in the final of the Irish U22 Championships.

After that it’s onto his first Irish Elites next month as Quinn steps up his transition into boxing’s senior ranks.

With reigning flyweight king Irvine in training for the Commonwealth Games, it appears unlikely that he will enter the Irish Elites, so Quinn will have to bide his time before getting another shot at ‘Wee Rooster’.

The talented 19-year-old was named most improved boxer at the Ulster Hall after his gutsy performance against the Rio Olympian, but he isn’t prepared to hang about and play second fiddle.

“It’s always good to have people coming up and talking to you after and supporting you, but I wasn’t there for that to be honest. I was there to win,” said Quinn, who is two years younger than Irvine.

“No matter how well you boxed or how many people pat you on the back, it doesn’t matter for much when you’ve lost. It was tough leaving the place but I couldn’t have lost to a better fighter.

“I’m still training towards that fight again, I’m not leaving it at that. I want to get in and get that win back.”

Considering the bout with Irvine was only his second as a senior, after his semi-final win over Jason McKay, Quinn came away from the Ulster Hall with renewed confidence.

He continued: “It was the whole experience, not even just the fight, but the build-up towards it.

“Having been to an Olympics and stuff, he’s more used to that probably but it was the first time for me. There was a lot of attention before the fight, a lot of people speaking about it.

“It was a big night for me, especially that being my first elite competition and jumping straight in with the best, so I learned a lot about myself. Even though I didn’t get the result, I wouldn’t change it now because I feel I’ve really improved a lot since then, and probably because of that.

“The last load of years I’ve been growing up watching Brendy, fighting in international competitions on TV, seeing him go up against the best in the world and beat the best in the world.

“So to be in with someone like that, and there wasn’t much between us... that does give you a lot of confidence. I know for a fact he’s at that top level, so it gives me a wee indication of where I’m at.”

And Quinn isn’t the only Ulster fight in action down in Dublin this weekend.

Immaculata pocket rocket Caitlin Fryers fought – and won – twice in the Irish U18s, defeating Megan Coleman (Baldoyle) on Friday and Shannon McKenna (Holy Family) the following night to set up a 51kg final clash with Orinta Ringyte (Riverstown).

Two Castles’s Jude Gallagher progressed to the light-fly final with a unanimous victory over Monivea’s Adam Hession (Monivea), while Holy Family middleweight Kane Tucker received a walkover in his semi-final.

He meets Thurles’s Jack Lawlor in the final.

Star’s John Paul Hale impressed in his third round stoppage win over Fionan Rodgers (Dungloe) and will meet Brendan McCarthy in the 56kg final after the St Michaels, Athy man got the better of Colm Murphy from Belfast club St George’s.

There was disappointment too for Holy Trinity flyweight Kian Bittles as he lost out to Owen McDonagh from Leeside Lough.

In the U22 Championships, meanwhile, Newry light-heavyweight Conor Wallace (Holy Family, Drogheda) beat Jason Clancy to set up a final against reigning U22 champion Brian Kennedy (St Mary’s, Daingean).

Stephen McKenna (left) has joined his younger brother Aaron, a pro boxer with Golden Boy Promotions, in Los Angeles for the next three months


IT is just over a month since Monaghan teenager Aaron McKenna made his professional debut in Las Vegas – and his older brother Stephen could join him in the paid ranks in the near future.

Amateur stand-out Aaron, who was seen as a possible candidate for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, made headlines when he signed a deal with Golden Boy Promotions towards the end of 2017.

Long linked with a move to the professional game, the 18-year-old relocated to Santa Monica with dad Fergal, where he is being coached by former heavyweight contender Courage Tshabalala.

And in recent weeks Aaron has been joined by Stephen on America’s west coast, with the elder sibling planning on spending the next three months honing his skills in gyms around the Los Angeles area.

“We’ll see how it goes and how he looks,” said Rachel Charles of Sheer Sports, the management company behind Aaron McKenna.

“We have him for three months so after thank we’ll have meeting of the minds and see what he wants to do.”

Like his brother, the 20-year-old is not short on talent.

In September 2015 he won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa, following that up at the start of 2016 by landing the light-fly title at the Irish Elite Championships.

A subsequent growth spurt has seen him catapult through the weights in recent years, boxing at flyweight, bantamweight and lightweight. Indeed, prior to last November’s Ulster Elite Championships, he had even been considering a move up to light-welter as his 6”0 frame fills out.

His hopes of achieving a Commonwealth Games double were dashed when he came up short against the experienced Sean Duffy at the semi-final stage, with McKenna hauling himself off the canvas twice to battle back in what was one of the fights of the night at the Dockers Club.

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