Jake Tucker aiming to topple Irish champion David McDonagh
JAKE Tucker will be hoping for redemption in Friday's National Under 18, 75kg semi-final at the National Stadium when he takes on old foe, David McDonagh from Mullingar Elite with a place in Saturday's final up for grabs.
McDonagh overcame the Emerald fighter last year in a close contest, so the Banbridge native will be doubly determined to set the record straight with the overall winner likely to be selected for the Irish team who will travel to the European Championships in September.
Tucker enjoyed an impressive win over All Saints, Ballymena's Joshua Adams in Friday's quarter-final as he swept to a unanimous victory, so will go into Friday's meeting with McDonagh full of confidence having also impressed at the prestigious Hanigey Cup in England recently.
"That was a great fight for him against a good, strong boy, but Jake won 30-24 on all of the cards," said his coach, Harry Hawkins who initially was in his corner at Holy Trinity in the past.
"He boxed very well and was very sharp. He's after getting three good wins in the Haringey Cup when he was over in England so he was nice and sharp going in at the weekend.
"It was just a matter of staying focussed and keeping his concentration so he did very well. He has the semi-final on Friday now and hopefully the final on Saturday."
Defending champion, McDonagh received a bye into the last four and having claimed the title last year also, will also feel extremely confident going in.
The winner will take on either Lewis Browne or Jack Kelly in Saturday's final and will believe they can complete the job whoever emerges on Friday.
It is a massive test for Tucker, but one his coach believes he is ready for having enjoyed sparring with older brother, Kane in the lead-up.
"This is a big test for him," he agreed.
"McDonagh got a bye into the semi-finals and Jake got a good fight against Adams and that should stand to him.
"He's nice and sharp and is full of confidence after that win.
"He's looking forward to reversing that decision from last year.
"The two of them have been coming up from Banbridge and have been training away.
"Kane was imitating McDonagh and we have been working on our tactics. He (McDonagh) fights tall so it will be a matter of getting inside his jab and hopefully we have a good win on Friday."
Having just turned 18, the younger of the Tucker's will be using this competition as a platform to lead him into the Elite ranks and hopefully a place at the High Performance Unit in Dublin.
With Joe Ward now in the professional ranks, there is a chance for Kane to claim that place on the Irish team with Olympic qualification still to begin, but it is the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022 that is the target for the Banbridge brothers who Hawkins feels can mature into major players at senior level.
"The Commonwealth Games is what we're looking at," Hawkins explained.
"The main thing now is to get these out of the road and hopefully he will be going to the Europeans in Sofia in September.
"If he does that then it will get him into the High Performance. Kane, the older brother, is only 19 and he is hoping to take Joe Ward's place so he is going to Dublin next Tuesday for a two-week camp with the High Performance so it's a matter of getting Jake over the line this week and then he should be selected for the Europeans.
"Both boys have got very big, so it's a matter of nursing them into the Elites at senior level."