Michaela Walsh books spot at 2024 Olympic Games with win in Poland

Belfast feather Michaela Walsh shows off her 'ticket to Paris' after victory in yesterday's quarter-final at the European Games in Poland
Belfast feather Michaela Walsh shows off her 'ticket to Paris' after victory in yesterday's quarter-final at the European Games in Poland

IT was an Olympic qualification hat-trick for Ireland at the European Games on Wednesday as Michaela Walsh, Kellie Harrington and Dean Clancy all secured their places at next summer's Paris Games.

Walsh was in sensational form as she accounted for Denmark's Melissa Juvonen Mortensen in their featherweight quarter-final on a unanimous decision to set-up a semi-final against France's Amina Zidani on Friday.

Needing to reach just the last four to stamp her ticket for next summer, the Emerald fighter did so with aplomb as she lured the Dane in and punished throughout the opening round to earn the nod from four of the five judges.

Walsh stepped it up in the second as she got the better of an early exchange, but again was taking that step back and countering, even holding her feet on occasion with confidence in full flow.

Walsh took a clean sweep of the second that left her with one hand on her ticket to Paris and there was no letting it slip.

While Mortensen knew she had to go for broke, Walsh was too quick, slick and elusive. The jab was effective in keeping the Dane at bay and Walsh was now landing some check rights, forcing a count late in the dying seconds to underline her dominance and seal an impressive win. 

Olympic lightweight champion Kellie Harrington is also through to the last four as she overcame Sweden's Agnes Alexiusson 4-1 to land one of the four Olympic spots on offer at 60 kilos.

In a competitive opener, the Dubliner shaded it on three of the five cards, but upped it in the second as she appeared on top, yet it was another 3-2 split leaving her well ahead on two cards, behind on one and level on the remaining, leaving it all to play for.

Alexiusson enjoyed some good moments, but the final round saw Harrington take over with much crisper work to sweep the boards and advance into Friday's semi-final against France's Estelle Mossely.

Dean Clancy has also punched his ticket to Paris as the Sligo man dominated Italy's Gianluigi Mananga to march into Friday's 63.5kg semi-final on a unanimous decision.

However, it wasn't all good news for the Irish as Amy Broadhurst crashed out at welterweight against GB's Rosie Joy Eccles, meaning her hopes of qualifying for Paris will now move onto next year's qualifiers should she decide to remain amateur.

Eccles made a bright start, but Broadhurst gradually grew into the round and began to find her timing, impressing four of the five judges.

The onus was on Eccles to turn the tide and she did to an extent in the second, tagging Broadhurst on a number of occasions as the Dundalk woman looked to hold, but still it was the Irishwoman ahead going into the final round.

Both had visibly tired, but momentum was on the side of Eccles who remained on top in a round she had to make hers and did so, earning the nod of all five judges that ensured a deserved 3-2 victory.

In the opening bout of the day, Meath's Jennifer Lehane lost out in her bantamweight quarter-final as she dropped a unanimous decision against Bulgaria's Stanimira Petrova.

There was also disappointment for Waterford light-heavyweight Kelyn Cassidy who looked on course to score a huge win over Oleksandr Khzyhniak, but the Ukrainian produced a big last round to emerge on a 3-0 decision with two judges scoring the bout even. 

Daina Moorehouse was pipped at the post in her flyweight quarter-final by Wassila Lkhadiri as the Frenchwoman finished strong to nick a 3-2 verdict.

Jack Marley and Aoife O'Rourke required a place in their respective finals to book their place in Paris and heavyweight Marley remained on course with a 4-1 win over Croatia's Marko Calic to reach the last four, while European champion O'Rourke is also through to Friday's semis with a unanimous decision win over Sweden's Love Nelli Holgersson.