Composed Barry McReynolds earns Ulster Elite honours on big-hitting final card
HOLY Trinity's Barry McReynolds came of age on Saturday night as he claimed the Ulster Elite 60kg title with a unanimous points win over Errigal's Dominic Bradley.
McReynolds, boxing for the first time at this level, showed composure and maturity to handle his opponent and the occasion at the packed-out Ulster Hall to romp to victory on a night of big-hitting drama at the home of Ulster boxing.
The Holy Trinity man popped out a stiff jab early and gained Bradley's respect with a solid right as his skills and movement was to prove too much.
Bradley was not content to make it easy for McReynolds as he tried to frustrate him at times, but the west Belfast man was just too slick as he coasted home on a unanimous decision.
"I was training all over Christmas for two or three months so I'm just glad my hard work paid off," he said afterwards.
"That was my first fight without the headguard, so hopefully I can push on now."
The fight of the night undoubtedly came in the featherweight division at Star's John Paul Hale defeated Colm Murphy of St George's 4-1.
Murphy was on the floor in the first from a solid right, but he roared back into the fight in the second half as Hale seemed to tire.
The St George's man piled forward as Hale held on, but the Star man had done enough in the opening rounds to claim a win as the crowd gave both a standing ovation.
They will meet again on Friday in the Irish U22 decider.
A little piece of history was created on the night as Jack O'Neill became the first boxer from Corpus Christi to land an Ulster Elite title, edging a 3-2 decision against Ederney's Rory Baird to be crowned flyweight champion.
O'Neill took the first as he made the faster start to establish himself before both stood and traded, but the Corpus Christi man made the stronger finish to the round.
The pace dropped a little in the second with Baird landing some flush shots with his back to the ropes.
Baird had a good final round, again landing off the ropes, but O'Neill was having his own success as he poured forward and edged home.
"I only joined the club a few months ago and it's a great achievement for the new club as well," he said.
"It was a close enough fight, but I thought I did enough in the last round. It's every kid's dream to fight here so I'm over the moon."
Paul McCullagh Jnr lived up to his big-punching reputation as he scored a first-round knockout over Noel Donnelly.
The St John Bosco light-heavyweight had the Holy Family, Drogheda man on the canvas twice with both ruled slips, but there was no doubting the third as an overhand right dropped Donnelly who was unable to get back up.
There was another devastating first round KO in the welterweight decider as Eugene McKeever stopped Tiernan Duffy with a huge right.
It wasn't all new faces on the night, as Commonwealth Games bronze medalist, James McGivern took a 4-1 decision over Dylan Duffy to claim the light-welterweight title having won the lightweight version in 2017.
McGivern took a little while to warm into the first round with his busy opponent from Pegasus causing a few problems, but at the seconds and rounds passed, McGivern found his rhythm, boxing and countering beautifully off the back foot to take the win.
Another Commonwealth medalist, Carly McNaul, was also in fine form as she overcame the up-and-coming Caitlin Fryers in the women's flyweight final.
Fearghus Quinn put his 2017 disappointment behind him as he denied Oakleaf's Brett McGinty in the middleweight final.
This was an absorbing contest with both planting their feet and trading in the centre of the ring, but Camlough man had the bit between his teeth having lost out last time and down the stretch, appeared to have the Donegal man in a little bit of trouble.
Elsewhere, Jack O'Neill claimed a first-ever Ulster Elite title for Corpus Christi as he edged hom 3-2 against Rory Baird at flyweight, while Karol Dlugosz edged out Michael Erpelding at heavyweight and the opening fight of the night went the way of Canal's Chloe Fleck who was crowned women's light-flyweight champion with a 3-2 win over Illies' Donna Barr.
48kg: Chloe Fleck (Canal) 3-2 Donna Barr (Illies GG)
51kg: Caitlin Fryers (Immaculata) 0-5 Carly McNaul (Holy Family GG)
49kg: Rory Baird (Ederney) 2-3 Jack O’Neill (Corpus Christi)
57kg: John Paul Hale (Star) 4-1 Colm Murphy (St George’s)
60kg: Dominic Bradley (Errigal) 0-5 Barry McReynolds (Holy Trinity)
63kg: Dylan Duffy (Pegasus) 1-4 James McGivern (St George’s)
69kg: Eugene McKeever (Holy Family Drogheda) won KO1 v Tiernan Duffy (Clonard)
75kg: Fearghus Quinn (Camlough) 4-1 Brett McGinty (Oakleaf)
81kg: Paul McCullagh (St John Bosco Belfast) won KO1 Noel Donnelly (Holy Family Drogheda)
91kg: Michael Erpelding (Holy Family GG) 2-3 Karol Dlugosz (Scorpion)