Boxing

Irish captain Brendan Irvine returns to the ring with a victory over India

The Belfast Met boxing academy team train at the home of charity Belfast Child on College Street. Pictured are, back from left, Mal Scott, John Mulhern, Martin Lindsay and Mickey Corr. Front, from left, are Owen Neeson, Alan Magee, Kai Lui, Stephen Jackson, Joll Coll, Mark Reid, Seanna McCombe, Gerard Hughes and John McLoughlin. Notable absentees include renowned trainer Gerry Storey, Jack McGivern and Ali Ahmed (who were both representing Ulster at the Black Forest Cup in Ulster at the weekend) and Barry McReynolds, who has been in America boxing for Holy Trinity

LEAD

RIO Olympian Brendan Irvine led the way as Ireland battled back from a shaky start to defeat India 9-3 in an international clash at the Royal Theatre in Castlebar on Saturday night.

Irvine, Jordan Moore, George Bates, Wayne Kelly, Kieran Molloy, Michael Nevin, Tony Brown, Kiril Afanasev and Dean Gardiner all did the business for the hosts.

And ‘Wee Rooster', who was Irish team captain, found the target with crisp shots against Salman Shaikh en route to a unanimous decision win.

In the previous fight on the night, also at flyweight, Clonard's Conor Quinn lost out to Gaurav Solanki – the man who beat Irvine in the 52kg final of the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast last month.

Quinn performed beautifully at times against his experienced opponent, boxing with precision and intent throughout.

“I'm delighted,” said 22-year-old Irvine.

“I was team captain before at the Strandja tournament in Bulgaria and there's nothing better. It's some honour.

“We asked to fight Solanki but they wouldn't take it, but the guy I was in with was very good – he's been Asian champion, fought on the WSB [World Series of Boxing] team. He was tricky, even in sparring I knew it would be a tough fight.

“It was good to get back in the ring and keep busy.”

Ireland also lost the first bout of the night when Rickey Nesbitt dropped a split decision after a lively encounter with Himanshu Sharma.

But wins for Irvine and Moore levelled matters up before wily Dublin lightweight Bates edged Ireland in front for the first time in the match, the Irish Elite champion working well from body to head against the durable Ankush Dahiya.

Molloy was involved in the fight of the night against Duryodhan Singh Negi before former European Youth, Junior and Schoolboy champion Nevin extended Ireland's lead to 6-3 with three bouts remaining.

Brown, Afanasev and Gardiner, who forced Parveen Kumar into a count in the third, sealed victory.

INSET

Erne Boxing Club's Kaci Crowley goes for gold today in the final of the European Schoolboy & Schoolgirl Championships in Albena, Bulgaria.

The Fermanagh girl has looked impressive en route to the final, stopping Italy's Rosalia Cataldo in the second round of their last four clash, following on from a straightforward quarter-final win over Lucia Simulescu.

Crowley takes on Russia's Sofia Pelevina in the 57kg final.

OFF LEAD 1 WITH MAIN PIC

THE university that helped hone the skills of two-time Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams is bringing a team to Belfast for a big night of boxing on Friday.

Leeds native Adams, who beat Belfast's Michaela Walsh to add Commonwealth Games gold to her impressive medal haul in 2014, is a product of the boxing academy in Sheffield, and the talent continues to roll off the production line.

Among those in action will be reigning English cruiserweight champion Callum Beardo in one of six bouts at the Clayton Hotel on Ormeau Avenue, alongside four exhibitions.

The show is being hosted by the Belfast Met boxing academy, which is in the third year of its partnership with their Sheffield counterparts.

Coaches Gerry Storey, Martin Lindsay, Mickey Corr and Malachy Scott have been working alongside course co-ordinator John Mulhern as the boxing academy continues to go from strength-to-strength.

Commonwealth Games silver medallist Aidan Walsh and James McGivern, who took home bronze from the Gold Coast last month, are both graduates of the academy and will be special guests on Friday to hand out medals.

“The partnership with Sheffield came about when John went over at the start to see how they went about things, and the relationship really grew from there,” explained Lindsay, a former British featherweight champion.

“This is the end of the third year of the boxing academy. It started off with one group but that's now up to two so the kids have a progression route, and they would be the gym with us three times a week and they're really coming on.

“Last year we went over there so it will be good to have them back in Belfast as it's always a great night of boxing.”

Tickets for Friday's clash between Belfast Met and Sheffield University at the Clayton Hotel cost £30, and that includes a three-course meal, Champagne reception and disco afterwards.

For further information, contact John Mulhern on 07855 902093.

OFF LEAD 2 WITH PIC

THE Ulster High Performance team rounded off a top class showing at the Black Forest Cup by bringing home a haul of 10 medals from Germany on Sunday.

Oisin Treanor (Emyvale), Tiarnan Mayse (Two Castles) and Eoghan Quinn (St John's, Swatragh) all won gold, with Kane Tucker (Holy Family), Thomas Orr (Lisburn), Shane O'Gorman (St Malachy's) and Star's JP Hale – who was involved in the fight of the tournament - taking silver.

Returning with bronze were Jack McGivern (St George's), Daniel Duffy (Immaculata, Strabane) and Eoin McGarrell (Raphoe), with Jake Tucker (Holy Family) and Ali Ahmed (Ormeau Road) bowing out before the medal stages.

Liam Corr, part of the Ulster HP coaching team along with Peter Brady and Ciaran Quinn, was quick to sing the praises of all the fighters involved.

And he suggested there was already an eye on the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

“It's been a brilliant competition from our point of view,” said the Star coach.

“We brought away 12 boxers and got 10 medals, which is good going because it was a provincial-level team coming up against the number one teams from some of the top countries.

“There were European champions there so that shows the quality you're talking about. Even at that we could have had more gold medals because the four that lost in the final, we felt they had all done enough to win but it is what it is.

“Hopefully this is putting the wheels in motion for Birmingham, that's the aim for all these guys. We're at the start of a four year cycle and they're all 17-18, so that's their target.

“They all put in massive performances, and they were a credit to their clubs and coaches both in terms of their performances and their conduct.

“They were a pleasure to take away.”

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