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Boxing

Brendan Irvine and Kurt Walker come through tricky semi-finals as bid for gold hots up

Brendan Irvine got the win over Scotland's Reece McFadden after a tough three rounds at Oxenford Studios yesterday. Picture by PA
Neil Loughran

THEY both won bronze medals at last year’s European Championships, now Brendan Irvine and Kurt Walker are in the hunt for Commonwealth gold after coming through tricky semi-finals yesterday.

Irvine got the nod over Scotland’s Reece McFadden on a split decision to advance to the flyweight final, while Kurt Walker defeated slippery Canadian Eric Basran at 56kg.

India’s Gaurav Solanki awaits Irvine in this morning’s 52kg showpiece as ‘Wee Rooster’ bids to add another medal to his burgeoning collection.

“I’m delighted,” said the 21-year-old.

“He was awkward but I stuck to the plan, I was landing single punches, landing the cleaner punches so I’m just glad the instructions paid off.

“I’ve a big family back home cheering me on all the way and they always have been, so it’s good to be doing them proud. It will be good to win a gold medal for all them back home.”

McFadden appeared stunned when the decision was announced.

"I thought I won the fight," said the 2014 bronze medallist.

"I'm absolutely disgusted. I'm devastated. I came here for gold and I won that fight. I'm pretty sure that most people in the crowd, nearly everybody in the crowd, thought I won it.

"I was pure enjoying it. I wasn't showboating, I wasn't trying to humiliate my opponent. He's a good guy, a good friend, but I was enjoying myself.

"I'm pretty sure Brendan will know that I won deep down in himself. Hats off to him. He's a very good boxer, very talented, Olympics and all that. But I'm devastated."

Solanki is next up for Irvine, and the Indian had to come through a tough semi-final too, dragging himself off the canvas twice to beat Sri Lanka's Vidanalange Ishan Bandara.

“I saw bits and pieces of it in the changing room but I wasn’t really taking any heed of it, I was just focusing on my own performance and what I had to do,” said Irvine.

Later in the day, Walker produced a patient display to edge past an opponent who didn’t seem to want to engage.

Eric Basran looked slick and proved an elusive target but offered little or nothing as an attacking force, with Walker waiting for his opportunities to strike and land scoring punches.

“I’m buzzing, all the training has worked out,” said the Canal counter-puncher.

“I couldn’t have done it without my coaches, the game-plan was perfect there for such an awkward opponent, just patience. I don’t usually go on the front foot so that was a great performance from me and I can’t wait for the final.

“I haven’t made a final at a tournament since the European youths but that was years ago. I can go on now and win gold… he has two arms and two legs just like me.”

The man Walker is referring to is English bantamweight Peter McGrail, who came through a tough, gruelling last four showdown with India’s Hussamuddin Mohammed.

McGrail ended the fight with a huge lump at the top of his forehead while southpaw Mohammed sustained a nasty looking cut in the corner of his left eye.

And the Scouser will present a whole different set of problems to the elusive Basran. McGrail tends to operate at mid-to-close range and is very sharp with his counters, so Walker can’t afford to throw any sloppy shots as the 21-year-old is an expert at drawing leads before leaping in to capitalise.

An intriguing battle lies ahead.

Steven Donnelly came up short in his bid to win gold at his third consecutive Commonwealth Games. Picture by Sportsfile

SECOND BRONZE IN-A-ROW FOR A DONNELLY AFTER CRUSHING KRISHAN DEFEAT

IT wasn’t to be for Steven Donnelly yesterday, but two bronze medals from three Commonwealth Games at three different weights is still a serious achievement by anybody’s reckoning.

The All Saints, Ballymena fighter lost out to an Indian boxer for the second Games in-a-row after being beaten by Vikas Krishan in the middleweight semi-final yesterday.

Donnelly started like a house on fire, dominating the first round, but after Krishan bounced back well in the second, it all came down to the third.

Again Donnelly started the round strongly but when a sickening body punch sent the 29-year-old to the canvas, he was always facing an uphill battle

“Gutted about the result, it wasn’t to be,” said Donnelly in a post on Facebook.

“Beaten by the better fighter, it’s as simple as that. Great body shots which hurt me but I got up – I’ll never give up. Just felt flat today.

“We all want the gold medal, we don’t do this sport to be second best, but sometimes that’s the way it goes. I’m proud of myself, four fights, three cracking wins up at a new weight.

“Another bronze medal, grateful for it all.”

There was disappointment at the hands of an Indian boxer for James McGivern too.

The talented St George’s ace looked to have done enough against Manish Kaushik in their lightweight semi-final, but Kaushik got the nod on a 4-1 split.

Bronze wasn’t the medal McGivern came to Australia for, and he admits it “means nothing” to him.

“There’s only one colour that means anything to me,” said the 20-year-old.

“The bronze medal will probably go somewhere in the house, I might give it to my granny or something.

“I thought I landed the cleaner punches, I thought he was chasing me around in circles and wasn’t landing too much. But listen, what can you do? Your man’s a great operator, we had a couple of good spars in training camp, they were very close.

“I’d say he’ll probably go on and win it.”

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