JP Hale shows Star quality to book Ulster final clash with Colm Murphy

Corpus Christi's Jack O'Neill celebrates after coming out on top of his gripping light-flyweight clash with Holy Family's Diarmuid Toland. Picture by Mark Marlow
Neil Loughran

Amateur boxing: Ulster Elite Open Championships

STAR’S John Paul Hale added to his growing reputation with a power-packed performance in last night’s Ulster Elite Open Championship semi-final showdown with Eamon McNally at the Dockers Club.

The taller St Michael’s man attempted to establish his jab from the off but Hale was having none of it, stalking his opponent and punishing McNally with hurtful looking body shots.

In the middle of the first round Hale forced a standing count when he caught McNally with an overhand right on the ropes, that shot coming shortly after a big left hook had rocked McNally.

Hale started the second strongly as well, landing two big rights, but appeared to tire as the round progressed. McNally was beginning to look a bit more comfortable before he was caught flush with a powerful right, referee James McCarron giving the St Michael’s man another standing count.

McNally was on his toes in the third as Hale went looking for big shots, the Star man edging this round too, mixing it up with single shots to chest and head.

Hale can now prepare for a mounth-watering bantamweight final clash with Colm Murphy after the St George’s man also scored a unanimous victory against Monkstown’s Conor Kerr.

Murphy, a Commonwealth Youth Games silver medallist in 2017, boxed beautifully at times, controlling the distance well with his jab and waiting for the crouching Kerr to attack before picking his counters.

Kerr was always dangerous off the ropes and caught Murphy with some nice left hooks, but there was no doubting who was in control.

Murphy finished the first with a beautiful long straight right followed by a short left hook, and was almost punch-perfect in the second, using his height advantage to supreme effect and landing long straight shots when Kerr tried to close the distance.

The third continued in a similar vein, with Murphy not wasting too many punches to put the tin hat on a convincing win.

Corpus Christi’s Jack O’Neill and Holy Family’s Diarmuid Toland served up an early evening barnstormer in their light-flyweight semi-final, with O’Neill just getting the nod on a 3-2 split decision after a hotly-contested three rounds.

O’Neill started and finished the first round well, rushing Toland and landing some nice combinations, but Lurgan lad Toland controlled the middle section with some eye-catching long rights, looking the physically stronger in close.

But O’Neill just wouldn’t stop coming forward and, in truth, there was very little to split them as they went to war, with both enjoying good moments.

Toland started the third with a thundering right hand that caught O’Neill flush, but again the tall Corpus Christi man came firing back, perhaps sensing his opponent was tiring. Toland, though, always looked to be landing the more hurtful, eye-catching shots and it was unenviable task for the judges to try and pick a winner after the final bell sounded.

It was O’Neill’s hand that was raised, though, and he goes on to face Ederney’s Rory Baird in the Ulster final.

Colm Murphy (red) was impressive en route to victory over Monkstown's Conor Kerr last night. The St George's ace will now meet Star's JP Hale in the 57kg decider on January 19. Picture by Mark Marlow

In the first bout of the night, Illies southpaw Donna Barr also took a split decision win over Virginia’s Emma Feeney, an impressive third round sealing the deal after a competitive encounter.

Good friends James McGivern and Dylan Duffy will meet in the 63kg final after safely negotiating last night's semi-finals, while Oakleaf's Brett McGinty set up a potential middleweight classic with Camlough's Fearghus Quinn.

The Oakleaf pressure fighter was far too strong for a game Eraid Muihai, representing the Dockers club. McGinty forced Muihai into a standing count in the first and kept up the relentless pressure right until the end of the second.

Muihai did rally in the third and landed some telling shots with a lovely flurry in the middle of the round, but it was too little, too late.

Scorpion heavyweight Karol Dulgloz secured a final date with Holy Family's Michael Erpelding after stopping Ballykelly's Cathal Morrow in the first round, while Stephen McMonagle claimed the first and third rounds to book a super-heavyweight rematch with Erne's Joe Joyce.

The pair met in the 2017 Ulster semi-final, with Joyce getting the nod on a split decision.

Ulster Open Elite semi-final results

48kg: D Barr (Illies GG) bt E Feeney (Virginia) 4-1

49kg: J O'Neill (Corpus Christi) by D Toland (Holy Family) 3-2

57kg: C Murphy (St George’s) bt C Kerr (Monkstown) 5-0

57kg: JP Hale (Star) bt E McNally (St Michael’s) 5-0

63kg: J McGivern (St George's) bt R Lavery (Holy Family) 5-0

63kg: D Duffy (Pegasus) bt B Ferran (Clonard) 5-0

75kg: B McGinty (Oakleaf) bt E Muiha (Dockers) 5-0


91kg: K Dlugosz (Scorpion) bt C Morrow (Ballykelly) RSC1


91+kg: S McMonagle (Holy Trinity) bt D Borskins (SJB, Newry) 4-1

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