Boxing

Seconds Out: Ulster clubs strut their stuff to land All-Ireland medals in Dublin

The Holy Trinity squad with coach Michael Hawkins at the Boy 4, Youth 1 and 2 finals in Dublin at the weekend
Neil Loughran

HOLY Trinity led the way for clubs across Ulster as they claimed four Irish titles from the weekend’s Boy 4, Youth 1 and 2 finals at the National Stadium in Dublin.

Clepson dos Santos got the ball rolling by landing the Junior 1 44kg crown, with Kyle McGreevey beating Luke Price on a 4-1 split at 50kg. Daniel Owens took the 36kg title on a walkover.

And there was further joy at Junior 2 where European bronze medallist Jon McConnell turned in another impressive performance to see off the talented Dylan McDonagh from Olympic.

Holy Trinity coach Michael Hawkins was understandably delighted with the haul, and predicted big days ahead for the club’s emerging talent.

“They all did very well,” he said.

“We have some great kids coming through, the likes of James Kelly, Kyle Smith, and this was a good wee team we had down in Dublin too.

“All the lads boxed well. Kyle McGreevy has been with us since he was 11 and he did brilliantly to win his first Irish title. Jon has had a great year, and Clepson – who has just joined us from Banbridge - is a super talent.

“Mason McClintock [who lost to Brooklyn Saunders in the Junior 1 48kg decider] was defeated on a split to European bronze medallist, so they can all be extremely proud of their performances.”

One of the most impressive performances of the weekend came from Eoghan Quinn.

The St John’s, Swatragh fighter landed his fifth Irish title against Legacy’s Steven Cairns, who is hardly lacking in pedigree himself with seven Irish titles to his name, and came into their Junior 2 60kg final on the back of two stoppage wins.

Quinn’s slick movement was causing Cairns bother from the get-go, leaving the Legacy man falling short with big shots as his opponent worked well behind the jab, countering with uppercuts and back hands to take the win.

And, according to club coach and father Ciaran Quinn, Eoghan’s preparation couldn’t have been any better.

He said: “Eoghan has spent a good eight weeks training flat out for this All-Ireland, getting great spars with JP Hale and Lee McKee from Star, as well as Errigal’s Dominic Bradley.

“He now travels to the Hull Box Cup in two weeks as captain of a strong Derry youth team, and will enter the Irish U18 Championships next month.”

Tiarnan Mayse of Two Castles took the Junior 2 middleweight honours when he defeated Kerry’s Patrick Lawlor

At middleweight, meanwhile, Tiarnan Mayse from the Two Castles club in Newtownstewart turned in an impressive performance to get the better of Kerry’s Patrick Lawlor.

It was a third Irish title for Mayse, who has also picked up two silver medals along the way. He is now preparing to head to the Black Forest Cup in Germany with the Ulster High Performance team in the coming weeks.

“Tiarnan trained hard in the past six weeks for this championship under the experienced eye of coach Mick O Neill,” said Two Castles coach John Gallagher.

“He is now looking forward to the Black Forest Cup, having previously won gold out there - albeit he had to move up a weight class to box.

“The club’s other boxers in these championships - Danny McHugh and Cealan Doherty - were both beaten by the eventual winners in very close contests, arguably giving the gold medallists their toughest bouts.”

Joining Mayse on the Black Forest Cup panel is East Down’s Oisin Mulholland, who claimed the 48kg Junior 2 crown - his second Irish title - with a split decision win over Jake Rapple, while clubmate Bryce Collins took Junior 1 42kg gold on a walkover.

Mullaghbawn native Rory O’Gorman, from the St Malachy’s club in Camlough, beat Paulstown’s David Drennan on a split to take the Junior 1 63kg title, with brother Shane – also bound for the Black Forest Cup - losing out on a 4-1 split after going toe-to-toe with Crumlin’s William Hayden.

Coaches Thomas Shields and Marty Mulholland praised both boys, who have trained side by side throughout the year.

“Their hard work and commitment is what’s got them this far,” said Shields.

Virginia’s Malachy Duffy and Ardoyne, Holy Cross fighter Joshua Philips took the 91+kg and 125kg titles on walkovers, while there were two Ulster winners in the Boy 4 finals on Friday night.

Star of the Sea’s Oran Carton got the better of Cookstown’s Charles McDonagh in the lightweight decider, with Dunfanaghy flyweight Bernie McDonagh beating Bay City’s Thomas McDonnell on a split.

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Holy Family's Kane Tucker with Dutch veteran Peter Mullenberg after their fight in Rotterdam on Friday night

KANE KEEN TO GRAB OPPORTUNITY AFTER WARD PRO SWITCH

WITH months of speculation surrounding Joe Ward’s future in the vest coming to an end last week, the door is now open for the next light-heavyweight prospect to emerge.

The three-time European champion was expected to remain amateur until next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, but has now signed pro forms with New York-based promoters Times Square Boxing.

It comes too late in the day to send a replacement 81 kilo fighter for the European Games later this month, but there is no shortage of talent in Ireland ready to fill Ward’s boots.

Thomas O’Toole is the reigning Irish champion, with Tommy Hyde and the big-hitting Paul McCullagh jr right up there too.

The St John Bosco man was part of an Irish team that took on a Dutch select in Rotterdam last Friday night - a show that also saw the elite debut of highly-rated Kane Tucker (Holy Family), who is well in the shake-up at 81kg now.

The Newry teenager showed he belongs at this level by dropping experienced Dutchman Peter Mullenburg in the second round of their clash, a lovely short left hook leaving the Rio Olympian on the seat of his pants.

In his opponent’s back yard, Tucker’s sterling performance still wasn’t enough to get the decision, but he took plenty of encouragement from sharing the ring with a veteran of the game

“It was a good test,” he said.

“If it had’ve been neutral judges, I probably would’ve won. But I sort of knew when he was announced as ‘Peter Mullenburg - legend of Holland boxing’. That wasn’t a great sign!

“One of the things I was worried about was whether I had the power, the man strength at this level. I’m only turned 19, he’s 31, he’s a man, so if I’m putting people like that down I know I’m ready for it.”

And with the Joe Ward-shaped roadblock now out of the way, the path is clear for a new king to emerge.

“As long as Joe was about, he was going to be the man at 81.

“Him turning pro has opened up that whole division now. The next seniors will be a good competition with so many young lads coming up.

“Obviously it’s very hard to get to the Olympics, but if was chosen to go to qualifying competitions, if they felt I was ready for it, then I’m not going to turn it down.

“The Olympics is massive, that’s what you always dreamed of.”

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OLIVER PLUNKETT TO HOST END OF SEASON SHOW

OLIVER Plunkett will host an end of season show at the club on Wednesday, June 19.

There will be 14 fights on the night, with Plunkett welcoming fighters from Holy Trinity, Rathfriland and Saints.

Former Oliver Plunkett boxers turned pro punchers Anthony Cacace, Tommy McCarthy and Tyrone McKenna will be on hand to give out prizes.

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