Tyrone teen Jude Gallagher hoping to lead medal charge in Italy against familiar foe

Holy Trinity prospects Cormac Fegan and James Malone squared off in an exhibition bout at Falls Bowling Club as part of the west Belfast club’s annual end of season awards night last Friday. That was the first fight of the night, with 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Sean Duffy closing the show by taking a unanimous points win over Cookstown’s Teo Alin in an all-action contest. There were 11 bouts in total – nine contests and two exhibitions – against an Ulster select team from Cookstown, St Monica’s, Oliver Plunkett, Gilford, Lisburn, East Down and Star boxing clubs. The talented Kyle Smith picked up the Bridie Hawkins memorial award for best boy boxer while Caoimhin Hynes, who won the Irish light-heavyweight title back earlier this year, was awarded the Alex Maskey sr memorial shield for best senior boxer. Picture by Matt Bohill
Neil Loughran

IRELAND have six fighters gunning for final spots at the European Youth Championships in Italy today – with Tyrone teenager Jude Gallagher hoping to lead the medal charge.

The Two Castles light-fly has produced impressive performances to see off Ukraine’s Ali Dagly and Armenian Seyran Yeghikyan en route to the semi-final, and comes up against a familiar foe in Roseto degli Abruzzi.

Gallagher met Atilla Bernth at the Black Forest Cup in Germany 12 months ago, the Hungarian using his height advantage to get the win.

However, according to John Gallagher - Jude’s father and a coach at the Newtownstewart club - it will be a completely different fight today.

“Jude had moved up from 44 to box that boy at 47 kilos because there was nobody at the 44 weight,” said Gallagher.

“It was a close fight - your man got the nod but it was very close. He was a lot taller than Jude then but he’s not now, Jude’s the same height as him. Jude’s up for it.

“We boxed him on the back foot because of the height difference but we’ll not be showing him any respect this time. It’ll be a different game-plan altogether.”

It has been a busy schedule but, after yesterday’s rest day, the remaining Irish boxers are determined to change the colour of their bronze medals when they step between the ropes.

Six are in action, and it could have been more.

Newry middleweight Kane Tucker, joint team captain, was on the receiving end of a bad decision on the opening day of competition while Immaculata’s Caitlin Fryers and bantamweight Brandon McCarthy can count themselves unlucky not to have progressed further.

One judge gave McCarthy one 10-8 round in a 30-26 win and he also earned a 30-27 victory on another card.

Tucker looked to have dominated his fight with Gabrijel Veocic and two judges agreed, giving him all three rounds. However, the other three ruled 29-28 in favour of the Croatian to send Tucker out the exit door.

On Sunday, meanwhile, McCarthy dropped a split decision to Albania’s Muhamet Qamili, and team manager Peter O’Donnell admitted there is a sense of frustration at not having more Irish competing in the closing stages.

“It’s a very good achievement to get six to the semi-finals but it should have been more,” said the Donegal man.

“That fight with young McCarthy, it would break any man’s heart to see a young boy win all three rounds to be denied by men sitting pressing buttons. It’s not good.

“Tucker’s was a bad decision too. It was a good enough fight, we thought he won it, most of the other countries around us thought he won it well, but he was very gracious in defeat.

“The scoring was all over the place but fair play to big Tucker, he thought himself he won the fight.

“Caitlin Fryers was unlucky, she performed very well. You can’t blame the judges all the time but some of the judging has been up for questioning.

“It’s getting more like the Eurovision Song Contest – they’re voting countries, they’re not judging the boxers fairly. You have to move on, but it’s tight on a young boxer who has put in so much work and preparation.”

Also in action today are light-fly Daina Moorhouse against Germany’s Maxi Klotzer, flyweight Dean Clancy versus Yurii Tomiuk of Ukraine while, in the featherweight semi-final, Dearbhla Rooney faces Russia’s Valeria Radionova.

At 65kg, the talented Evelyn Igharo is up against Ukraine’s Maria Sedaya while middleweight Lauren Kelly takes on Elsidata Selaj.

Caoimhin Hynes beat Brian Kennedy in Irish Elite Championship final at 81kg back in January


TALK of turning over to the pro ranks has been put on the backburner for now as Caoimhin Hynes sets his sights on using the World Series of Boxing (WSB) to achieve his dream of reaching the 2020 Olympics.

Hynes had looked set to turn over earlier this year after missing out on the Commonwealth Games, and there is no shortage of suitors in the pro ranks drawn in by his all-action style.

However, after landing his first Irish elite title at 81kg, he returned to his more familiar middleweight three weeks ago to deliver an eye-catching performance on his WSB debut for Italia Thunder.

Few could have expected such a spectacular display but Hynes was electrifying in Paris, forcing Clemente Hong Sik Kee of the France Fighting Roosters into two standing counts before the towel eventually came in midway through the fourth round.

Unsurprisingly Italia Thunder soon came calling again, with the 21-year-old in quarter-final action against either the British Lionhearts or the Roosters next month.

And Hynes is determined to catch the eye once more and secure a spot for the start of the next WSB season, which will act as a qualifying route for Tokyo.

“I’ve got a decision to make, whether to stick around for the Irish elites in November or turn over,” said Hynes, who picked up the Alex Maskey sr memorial shield for best senior boxer at last Friday’s Holy Trinity awards night.

“At the minute my focus is on securing a place in the WSB for next year to try and qualify for the Olympics that way.

“If I do that, I’ll stick around – if not… as of now I am entering the seniors, that’s my next target after WSB.

“You have to be picked by a team so I want to put on good performances and impress. Even if it’s not Italia Thunder, other teams will be watching so hopefully I can get picked for next year.”

He only had two weeks to prepare for the Hong Sik Kee fight, and insists he will be ready when he receives the call to go again.

Hynes added: “I’m still waiting to find out.

“Last time I wanted to go out and put a performance on and I’m delighted I did that. It was a brilliant opportunity - I felt class in there.”

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