Talented teenager Gabriel Dossen defies leg injury to oust 2018 finalist Brett McGinty

Paddy Donovan, Gabriel Dossen and James McGivern all reached this weekend’s finals with victories at the National Stadium on Saturday. Picture courtesy of Michael Hade
From Neil Loughran at the National Stadium

Amateur boxing: Irish Elite Championships

JAMES McGivern and Chloe Fleck kept the Ulster flag flying heading into this weekend’s Irish Elite Championship finals, but it was Galway teenager Gabriel Dossen who stole the show at the National Stadium on Saturday night.

The 19-year-old has long been talked of as a potential superstar, and he has burst onto the senior scene in some fashion, taking out both of last year’s middleweight finalists already to move into Saturday’s decider against 2017 champion Emmett Brennan.

Dossen stunned defending champion Michael Nevin on the opening weekend, yet his victory over Oakleaf powerhouse Brett McGinty was possibly even more impressive considering he had spent the previous four days on crutches after picking up a knee injury in sparring through the week.

“I did the ligaments in my knee there on Tuesday, the doctor told me I wasn’t going to box today,” he said.

“I was sparring a lad from Dublin and whatever way he came in he hit the side of my leg, my ankle stayed planted and my knee moved in. I kind of heard something crack – I went for an x-ray and it was grand but I haven’t been for an MRI yet. I think it’ll be maybe my meniscus or something, the ligaments in my knee anyways.

“I had no doubt in my head I would recover but doctors were putting doubt in my head. Me and Mike [Mongan] just kept a straight head and said I’ll be fine, I’ll be able to box.”

Boxing coaches are renowned for keeping poker faces regarding the wellbeing of their fighters, and you certainly couldn’t sense any panic as Mongan chatted away before the action got under way, insisting his man was ready to rock.

He was, as it turned out, but did so with a bandage covering most of his right leg. At times during the fight you could see Dossen was in considerable discomfort – a pressure fighter like McGinty is not exactly the kind of man you want to share a ring with if your movement is restricted.

But the talented Olympic BC stylist was still able to earn a unanimous decision victory.

Leaving the ring, the steps down to the floor were not easily negotiated but, after sitting down to watch Brennan defeat Camlough’s Fearghus Quinn in the other 75kg semi-final, Dossen was able to reflect on a job well done.

“I went in there and boxed as well as I could,” he said.

“I’m going back on Tuesday to try and get an MRI, see what’s fully wrong with it, but I boxed well today and it only happened four days ago so I’m pretty sure next week will be grand.

“Enmett Brennan’s after winning the elite title in 2017 so it’ll be a good fight. I’m beating top names here.

“This will be the biggest fight I’ll have fought in. It’s been my dream to fight in an elite final and win it, so everything from here now is a bonus. I’m only young, I’m only 19, so it’s all positives.”

And it was the same for McGivern, even if he didn’t quite hit the heights of the previous week’s faultless display against defending light-welterweight champion Wayne Kelly.

In with the tricky Kenneth Doyle, McGivern landed the more eye-catching shots to edge through to the final after a cagey encounter, where he will face Dubliner George Bates.

Canal light-fly Chloe Fleck got the Ulster contingent off to the perfect start when she took a unanimous decision win over Crumlin’s Courtney Daly to set up a rematch with Donegal’s Donna Barr, who she defeated in last month’s Ulster Elite final.

It was disappointment from there on though as McGinty and Quinn fell by the wayside, while Aidan Walsh was edged out by Paddy Donovan in the 69kg semi-final to set up a showdown with defending champion Kieran Molloy.

There was very little to choose between Walsh and Donovan, the Monkstown counter-puncher looking to have landed the cleaner shots, only for the judges to give Donovan the nod on a 3-2 split.

At light-heavy, St John Bosco’s Paul McCullagh also came out on the wrong side of the judges when he lost out to Tommy Hyde. The general consensus was that the Cork man took the first, McCullagh fired back impressively in the second, and the third was a shootout for long periods.

McCullagh can consider himself unlucky, but he will come again.

The biggest upset of the night undoubtedly came in the heavyweight division where reigning champion Kiril Afanasev was toppled by Tony Browne, who has only moved up from 81 kilos in the past 12 months.

Karol Dlugosz, who boxes out of the Scorpion club in Ballyclare, was beaten by Athlone’s Kenny Okungbowa in the other semi-final.

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