Boxing

Irish Elites hopeful Sean Duffy signs on with British Lionhearts in World Series of Boxing

Sean Duffy impressed en route to the final of last year's Ulster Elite Championships, and has a busy month ahead between the Irish Elites and the World Series of Boxing
Neil Loughran

COMMONWEALTH Games bronze medallist Sean Duffy has been enlisted by the British Lionhearts for the new season of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) – but there is some business to attend to on home soil first.

The Keady pressure fighter joins fellow Irishman Joe Ward on the Lionhearts team, and is expected to make his debut against Italia Thunder at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on March 2.

In previous years the likes of Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, Steven Donnelly – all 2014 Commonwealth Games team-mates of Duffy’s – have excelled in the WSB, and Duffy is hoping to follow their lead.

But before that he has entered the Irish Elite Championships, which get under way at Dublin’s National Stadium on Friday.

The Holy Trinity fighter put in strong performances against Gerard Matthews and Stephen McKenna before losing to James McGivern in the final of the Ulster Elites.

And he enters a competitive field in Dublin that includes last year’s 60kg champion Patrick Mongan, as well as the likes of Killough’s Dylan Duffy and 2017 finalist George Bates.

The 26-year-old had been due to fight in the WSB on February 16, which would have ruled him out of the Irish Elites, and he admits it was a last minute decision to put his name forward.

“It was only last week Harry [Hawkins] said about the Irish Elites,” says Duffy.

“Weight-wise I was a wee bit heavy, and then the weigh-in was on Sunday there, so we’d a bit of craic getting the weight down over the last couple of days.

“Harry had said about going in at 64 but I set myself a goal that I would be a 60 kilo fighter and that’s what I’m going to stick to.

“This is all just learning for me. My big goal was to try and qualify for the Commonwealths, so everything now is just gaining knowledge.

“It’s hard to enough to get sparring these days, so I’m going into these nice and relaxed and treating it as a series of competitive sparring sessions. I’m twice the boxer when I’m relaxed.”

Duffy has sparred with professionals Feargal McCrory and Sean Magee over the winter and, considering he runs a personal training away from boxing, feels in tip-top shape heading towards a busy month.

The defeat to McGivern at the Ulster Hall didn’t play on his mind too much, although he would have loved a shot at changing the colour of his Commonwealth medal.

“Because of business, I don’t really get time to switch off or over-think things, so I’m lucky that way. I watched it once, the day after it, and I probably saw where I went wrong.

“I’m lucky to have friends who know everything so I’ve been told numerous times how I could’ve won that fight – the main mistake we made last time was maybe starting a bit slow.

“But he played the game better on the night and that was it. He was thinking that wee bit sharper and I think he’ll do very well in the Commonwealths. I hope he does very well.”

And while McGivern is up in Jordanstown training flat out for the Gold Coast, a return to Australia – where he spent six months between 2016 and 2017 – could be on the cards for Duffy this summer.

He added: “I’ve always probably been more suited to the pro style.

“That’s why I think the WSB will suit me. The Lionhearts came looking for me, probably because there aren’t many who can stand toe-to-toe and be as strong as I am at 60.

“It’s five rounds too which will suit my style because I always come on stronger in the last couple of rounds. It’s usually only the third round I start coming into my rhythm anyway.

“After that, we’ll see what happens. I still have Australia in my head, I have tickets booked to go back in August. I had been looking in to going pro before I came back to Ireland last year, and it could be something we could look at it again down the line.

“My aim is to stay as active as possible here and then, when I go back to Australia, I can hit the ground running.”

MEANWHILE, Michaela Walsh is the only member of the Commonwealth Games team to enter the upcoming Irish Elite Championships, which get under way at Dublin’s National Stadium on Friday.

Light-fly Kristina O’Hara, flyweight Brendan Irvine, bantamweight Kurt Walker and light-welter Sean McComb have all opted against defending their titles as they step up their preparations for the Gold Coast.

Walsh will find out who her first opponent will be this morning, with Tiegan Russell (Fr Horgan’s), Dervla Duffy (Mulhuddart), and Ashleigh McCullough (Albert Foundry) also entering the 57 kg weight class.

Elsewhere, Clonard’s Conor Quinn has received a walkover as he was the only entrant at flyweight, while his club-mates Caoimhin Ferguson (light welter) and Gerard French (middleweight) will both fancy their chances.

Also in the shake-up at 75kg, having moved up from 69kg, is Oak Leaf powerhouse Brett McGinty.

Holy Trinity banger Caoimhin Hynes – understood to be considering a possible move into the pro ranks after missing out on the Commonwealths – moves up from middleweight for a crack at the light-heavyweight title.

Club-mate Jason Barron, a defeated Ulster finalist last year, is in the mix at 91kg.

It was a good night for Ulster boxing at Dublin’s Louis Fitzgerald Hotel on Friday, with boxers Brendan Irvine, Kurt Walker, Caitlin Fryers and Michaela Walsh all recognised for their medal-winning exploits on the international stage during the past 12 months. Maydown Olympic rising star Cahir Gormley, a bronze medal winner at the European Schoolboy Championships back in July, was the only Ulster fighter from outside of Antrim to receive an award. Joe Ward, the current European and World Elite gold and silver medallist, was named best overall boxer. Ulster stalwarts Brendan Lowe and Eugene Duffy were also honoured for outstanding services to boxing

FULL LIST OF ENTRANTS FOR THE IRISH ELITE CHAMPIONSHIPS

MALE

49kg: Conor Jordan (St Aidan’s), Ricky Nesbitt (Carrickmacross)

52kg: Conor Quinn (Clonard) walkover

56kg: Evan Metcalfe (Hyland Academy), Myles Casey (St Francis’s), Tony Casey (St Francis’s), Adam Courtney (St Mary’s), Christian Cekiso (Portlaoise), Thomas McCarthy (Setanta), Eamonn McNally (St Michael’s, Antrim)

60kg: Patrick Mongan (Olympic), George Bates (St Mary’s), Shane Flavin (Paulstown), Yannick Maeseke (Leo’s, Athlone), Francis Cleary (Ballina), Adam Kelly (Portlaoise), Sean Duffy (Holy Trinity), Dylan Duffy (Pegasus), Conor Kerr (Glengormley)

64kg: Keith Flavin (Paulstown), Caoimhin Ferguson (Clonard), Colm Quinn (Castlebar), Matthew McCole (Dungloe), Wayne Kelly (Portlaoise)

69kg: Fergal Redmond (Arklow), Dean Walsh (St Ibar’s), Eugene McKeever (Holy Family, Drogheda), Michael Hennessy (St Monica’s, Newry), David Barrett (Rylane), Kieran Molloy (Oughterard), Tony McGlynn (Crumlin)

75kg: Caolan Cassidy (St Saviour’s), Gerard French (Clonard), John Maughan (St Mary’s), David Bescivas (St Saviour’s), David Bescivas (St Saviour’s), John Joyce (St Michael’s, Athy), Glory Carlos Imuala (Maynooth), Michael Nevin (Portlaoise), Peter Carr (Crumlin), Brett McGinty (Oak Leaf)

81kg: Robert Burke (Glasnevin), Brian Kennedy (Daingean), Anthony Brown (St Michael’s, Dublin), Davit Tsoria (Illies GG), Karol Delugosz (Scorpion), Caoimhin Hynes (Holy Trinity)

91kg: Kirill Afanasev (Smithfield), Kevin Sheehy (St Francis’s), Ken Okungbowa (Athlone), Jason Barron (Holy Trinity), Liam Green (South Meath)

91+kg: Constantin Popovicu (Crumlin), Antoine Griffin (Celtic Eagles), Dean Gardiner (Clonmel), Thomas McCarthy (Glasnevin), Geoffrey Kavanagh (Glasnevin), Martin Keenan (Rathkeale), Patrick Nevin (St Michael’s, Dublin), John McDonnell (Crumlin)

FEMALE

48kg: Megan Doyle (Whitechurch), Shannon Sweeney (St Anne’s), Carol Coughlan (Monkstown, Dublin), Courtney Daly (Crumlin)

51kg: Ceire Smith (Cavan), Niamh Early (Ryston)

54kg: Lauren Hogan (St Brigid’s), Amanda Loughlin (St Michael’s Dublin)

57kg: Tiegan Russell (Fr Horgan’s), Dervla Duffy (Mulhuddart), Michaela Walsh (Monkstown, Antrim), Ashleigh McCullough (Albert Foundry)

60kg: Kelly Harrington (St Mary’s), Amy Broadhurst (Dealgan)

64kg: Joanna Lambe (Carrickmacross) walkover

69kg: Grainne Walsh (Sparticus), Ciara Ginty (Geesala), Conni Vaughan (Dulhallow), Ciara Sheehy (Ardnaree), Gillian Duffy (Bray)

75kg: Christina Desmond (Fr Horgan’s), Aoife Burke (St Mary’s)

81kg: Aoife O’Rourke (Castlerea) walkover

81kg+: Nell Fox (Rathkeale), Lisa Brown (Aglish)

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