Ulster boxers show their class to topple star-laden German outfit
ULSTER’S boxers swept the boards during two dates with a German national select side during the past week, showcasing the talent that is coming through in the province.
Under the watchful eye of Ulster High Performance coach Damien Kennedy, who was later joined by head coach John Conlan, the team has been at a training camp in Germany for the past 12 days, with the undoubted highlights two action-packed fight nights.
Going toe-to-toe with some of Germany’s top operators, several of whom competed at the recent European Union Championships in Spain, the Ulster team won 7-1 the first night before following that up with a 5-2 victory at the weekend.
Lightweight Dylan Duffy (Pegasus), light-welter Caoimhin Ferguson (Clonard), light-heavy Kane Tucker (Holy Family) and heavyweight Damien Sullivan (Emerald) all notched wins in first round of contests, while Camlough middleweight Fearghus Quinn was unlucky to come out on the wrong side the judges’ scorecards.
Dublin bantam Jordan Moore and Samoan native Ato Plodzicki-Faoagali – a Commonwealth Games silver medallist last April – all participated on behalf of the Irish side, landing impressive wins.
There was no such luck for Moore on the second night as, pitted against German golden boy Hamza Touba, he slipped to defeat while Wladislaw Baryshnik had his hand raised against Ferguson.
But Duffy, Quinn, Plodzicki-Faoagali and Sullivan all did the business in some fashion, while a second tour victory was especially sweet for Tucker.
The Newry teenager controversially lost out to Oronzo Birardi at the Black Forest Cup, also in Germany, back in May 2017 and was delighted to exact revenge at the Olympic Sport Centre in Heidelberg before a huge crowd on Saturday night.
Birardi, a former European Youth champion, was in confident mood, often attempting to play to the crowd. But Tucker showed maturity well beyond his 18 years as he kept a cool head, despite the intense atmosphere, to defeat the home favourite.
“That guy got the decision against him at the Black Forest Cup but we thought Kane won the fight, so it was sweet revenge,” said coach Conlan.
“It was a very close fight, there a lot of emotion involved. It was a big step up for Kane, he’s going to be elite next year, and that will have done him no harm at all. He learned loads from it.
“His opponent was a little bit playful to the crowd, to say the least, and Kane managed it really well. He’s still young, but coming on leaps and bounds.”
Commonwealth Games competitor Sullivan finished off the show in some style after having his hand raised following a gripping, all action clash with Melkiad Paluca.
And Conlan, who travelled to Germany at the end of last week after arriving back from the EUs in Spain, where Kurt Walker won bantamweight gold, admitted he had been very impressed with all he had seen in Heidelberg.
“Dee Sullivan’s fight at the end was a real show-stopper - toe to toe, phone box stuff, which is unusual for Damien, but he came out on top and did really well,” added Conlan.
“But all the guys did really well, and they’ll have taken a lot from it. Dylan Duffy, Fearghus, Caoimhin, Kane, Dee and the other boys, they all boxed brilliantly.
“When I looked at these tournaments earlier this year, the whole strategy was to get as much international experience for these guys as possible, but also to get as much good competition as we could.
“Germany is around the same level, so this was a really good opportunity for them to get that experience. Even though I had just come back from the EUs, the reason why I went was to see how the boxers performed in that environment, and to see the level of our opponents and make sure we were getting challenged.
“From what I saw, we definitely were.”
Another Ulster HP team, consisting of youth, junior and elite boxers, will be heading out to Stuttgart, Germany for another competition in the coming weeks.
Loughshore super-heavy Dean Scullion booked his place in the Irish senior final with an impressive victory over Martin Stokes.
Scullion got the nod on a split decision over the Crumlin fighter and goes on to face Gytis Lisinskas, from the Celtic Eagles club in Galway, at the National Stadium in Dublin on Friday night.
Monkstown bantamweight Conor Kerr will also be in action after getting the better of Ryston’s Scott O’Connor, taking a 3-2 split, to see up a decider against Enniskerry’s Sean Purcell.
At 52kg, Townland’s Ben Nelson lost out to Terry Donohue (St Michael’s, Athy) while there was also disappointment for Errigal lightweight Dominic Bradley when he came out on the wrong side of a 4-1 split decision in his semi-final clash with Patryk Adamus (Drimnagh).
Highly-rated Cork light-heavy Tommy Hyde will take on Kevin Kehoe in the 81kg final after the Marble City boxer defeated Davit Tsotsoria (Illies GG). Cavan’s Thomas Maughan fell to Daniel O’Brien (St Bernadette’s) in their last four heavyweight bout.
Immaculata pocket rocket Caitlin Fryers - a 2017 World Youth bronze medallist - makes her return to the ring on Friday night when she faces Castlebar’s Kirsten Cresham in the 51 kilo senior final, while there are walkovers for light-flyweights Emma Feeney (Virginia) and Diarmuid Toland (Holy Family).
WEST Belfast club St Agnes’s will host a club show on Sunday afternoon, with up to 15 fights scheduled to take place featuring some promising young talent from around the city.
Joining the host club will be boxers from Corpus Cristi, Emerald, Patsy Quinn and Holy Trinity, and St Agnes’s coach Jimmy McGrath is expecting some cracking action.
“There’s a lot of talent about the club at the minute, and this is a good opportunity for them to show what they can do,” he said.
“There’s a good buzz around the place now, there hasn’t been a club show in a wee while so hopefully this will kick us off again.”
The first bout is scheduled for 2pm.
A FIVE-STRONG County Antrim team will head out to Belgium on Friday to compete in a weekend multi-nations tournament.
St Paul’s light-welter Gerard Matthews leads the charge on a team that also includes senior boxers Michael Lynch (Spartans, 69kg), Lex Weston (North Down, 75kg), Euan McConnell (Larne, 75kg) and youth boxer Ben Ferran (Clonard) at 64kg.
Liam Corr and Willie Thompson will be the coaches, with Brendan Lowe R&J.
THE weigh-ins for the Ulster 9 county boy/girl 4,5,6,7 championships will take place tomorrow between 7.30pm-8.30pm at the following venues: Ormeau Road BC (Antrim), Station Centre BC (Fermanagh/Tyrone), Oakleaf BC (Derry), St John Bosco, Newry (Down) and Castleblayney BC (Cavan/Monaghan).
The draw will take place after the weigh-ins, with the preliminaries beginning at the Shantallow Community Centre in Derry on Saturday (10.30am start).
If required, extra preliminaries will take place at the same venue on Sunday, with finals held on Saturday, December 8.
County Antrim and a Mayo select had to share the spoils with six wins each after an engrossing afternoon’s boxing at the Balmoral Hotel on Saturday. Antrim’s victories came courtesy of Devon Morgan (Lisburn), Jamie Graham (Clonard), Louis Rooney (Star), Joshua Watson (Saints), Kyle McGreevy (Holy Trinity) and Charlie Neill (Ballysillan).
Also on the card was the Boy 1 32kg Ulster final between Clonard’s Sean Gray and Ligoniel’s Tiernan Rice – the pair are pictured below embracing after the fight, which Gray won. Picture by Mark Marlow