Boxing

Carrickmore club proud as Brannon McMahon called into Ireland squad

Brannon McMahon will compete for Ireland at the European Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Championships

HE may have been drafted in at late notice, but nobody deserves their place on the Irish team at the European Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Championships more than Brannon McMahon from the Carrickmore club in county Tyrone.

The 13-year-old lost his father Shane – a coach at the club - just over a month ago, and bravely boxed in the semi-final of the Irish Junior Cadet Championships the day after the funeral, winning on a unanimous decision on an emotionally-charged night at the National Stadium.

He lost out in the final the following week to Evan Kirwan but, with the Drimnagh fighter struggling to make the 52kg weight limit ahead of the Europeans, McMahon got word that he was Bulgaria-bound.

It is a huge achievement, and club secretary Ronan McMahon – an uncle of Brannon’s father Shane – said everybody associated with the club was “so, so proud” of the teenager.

“I can’t over-emphasise how proud Shane would be that Brannon’s going to fight in the European schoolboys,” he said.

“I’m the secretary of our club and at his father’s wake Brannon came to me and said he wanted to fight. The club said they would back him 100 per cent, but it was a bit of a gamble because we didn’t know what way it was going to go.

“You never saw Brannon without Shane. They were involved with motorbikes, interested in cars, and boxing was the big one.

“He fought like a warrior that day. A big crowd came down to support him, and he went to Dublin that day to make his daddy proud - that’s what he said.

“It was very emotional but he showed great maturity to really put on a display that everybody was very proud of. He’s a lad of few words but his strength of mind is unbelievable.”

McMahon paid tribute to Carrickmore coach Stephen Campbell who has worked closely with Brannon since he first walked through the doors of the club six years ago.

And he said news of his international call-up had been “a huge boost”.

“Stephen Campbell has worked really hard with Brannon. He only started boxing in competition last year, did reasonably well, but this year he’s been very successful, winning the nine counties, the Tyrone/Fermanaghs, the Ulsters…

“We got the word a couple of Friday nights ago and he’s really delighted. He’s absolutely buzzing about the Europeans.”

The draw takes place in Albena tomorrow morning, with the action getting under way in the afternoon.

And there is other Ulster interest in the Irish team too, with James McGuinness from the St Monica’s club in Newry boxing at 56kg following his victory over Avona’s Thomas King in last month’s cadet final, and Erne’s Kaci Crowley selected at 57kg.

Two Castles clubman John Gallagher is among the coaching staff, alongside Liam Brereton, Jim O’Neill, Eva Carr and Tom Hayes, while Newry official Brian Wallace travels as Ireland’s referee and judge.

Irish squad

Boys

38.5kg: M Collins (Drimnagh); 40kg: M Faulkner (Northside); 41.5kg: W Faulkner (Rathkeale); 43kg: J Nevin (Olympic Mullingar); 44.5kg: C Donovan (Clonmel); 46kg: C Brennan (St Michael’s, Athy); 48kg: M Connors (St Mary’s, Dublin); 50kg: J Donovan (OLOL); 52kg: B McMahon (Carrickmore); 54kg: J Fay (Swords); 56kg: J McGuinness (St Monica’s); 59kg: T McAleer (Swords); 62kg: R Murphy (Neilstown); 65kg: J Hutchinson (Neilstown); 68kg: F Behan (Kilcullen); 72kg: T Meade (Kilnamanagh); 76kg: C Darcy (Callan); 80kg: P McDonagh (St Joseph’s); 91kg: M McDonagh (Ballyhaunis)

Girls

36kg: K O’Keeffe (Kanturk); 39kg: S Elstone (Ardnaree); 42kg: N Jackman (Paulstown); 45kg: R Kelly (Ballynacargy); 48kg: Robyn Murran (St Brigid’s, Kildare); 51kg: L Glynn (Cloghan); 54kg: Y Meredith (Glasnevin); 57kg: K Crowley (Erne); 60kg: L Moran (St Anne’s); 63kg: W Christina McDonagh (Neilstown); 67kg: D Tinnelly (Clann Naofa); 70kg: N McJin-Igelige (Clann Naofa)

IABA president: D O’Rourke; Team managers: M Fennessey, J O’Sullivan;

Coaches: L Brereton, J O’Neill, E Carr, J Gallagher, T Hayes; R&J: B Wallace

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Maydown Olympic had a good night at the County Derry Board awards night. Coach Georgie Gormley is pictured with Ben Cooke and Òran Carton (joint winners of the best schoolboy award), Cahir Gormley (best youth) and Seán Devenney (coach of the year)

MAYDOWN OLYMPIC ABC IN THE AWARDS AFTER SUCCESSFUL SPELL

THE Maydown Olympic club have been among the awards in recent weeks after another stellar year for the Derry club.

Last week they took the prestigious club of the year title at the Derry City and Strabane Council awards night, beating off some stuff competition.

And the weekend previous Maydown were well represented at the County Derry Board awards, with young boxer Cahir Gormley picking up the Tony McGahon Cup for the best youth, while Ben Cooke and Oran Carton received the Patsy Heavron Cup for best schoolboy boxers.

On the same night Sean Devenney was named coach of the year and, having only opened the doors of the club three years ago with fellow coach Georgie Gormley, he admits the awards are “a nice wee boost”.

“We were up against a lot of well-established larger clubs, and we were very surprised when we heard our name being called out,” said Devenney.

“It’s nice to see the work of the boxers and everybody in the club being recognised because I suppose we’ve probably done quite a lot in a short space of time.

“We’ve won seven Irish titles in two years, even the first year we were open we got to three finals and lost them all on split decisions. It seems as though we’re doing something right, which is good to see.”

And the roll call of success has continued earlier this month too, with Ella Hughes claiming the Girl 2 47kg title at the recent National Girls’ Championships in Dublin and with Carleigh Irving coming up trumps at 39kg with some impressive performances.

“That was a first-ever Irish title for Ella and Carleigh so we were absolutely delighted for the pair of them because they boxed brilliantly,” added Devenney.

“Cahir was in America last month and he’s out again in September with Bridges Beyond Boxing. He has the cadets in August too which is a qualifier for the European juniors so there’s a big couple of months ahead.

“But the whole club is just going well at the minute. We’re progressing and building as we go.”

Maydown Olympic will host their end of year show at the Belgfry Country Inn on Friday night, taking on an Ulster Select. Doors open 7.15pm, first fight 8pm. The night is in association with mental health charity Cunamh.

Maydown Olympic’s Irish schoolgirl champions Ella Hughes and Carleigh Irving

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