Boxing

Michaela Walsh keen to send out a message on return to international stage at Chemistry Cup

Two-time Commonwealth Games silver medallist Michaela Walsh is part of the Irish team competing at the Chemistry Cup in Germany this week. The draw will be made tomorrow. Picture by PA
Neil Loughran

THE hand injury that curtailed the latter months of last year fully healed, Michaela Walsh is determined to send out a message that she is back to her best at the Chemistry Cup this week.

With the 2020 Olympic Games on the radar of every top fighter at the prestigious Cologne multi-nations tournament, Walsh will get a good look at the competition around her featherweight division.

The 25-year-old looked sharp as a tack when comfortably defeating domestic rival Dervla Duffy at the Irish Elite Championships back in February, but the Chemistry Cup will be her first foray into the international arena this year.

Walsh’s appearance at last November’s World Championships ended in disappointment when she was edged out by Italian Alessia Mesiano in the last 16 – the same opponent she had convincingly defeat en route to a European bronze medal five months previous.

And the Monkstown fighter has revealed that a hand injury sustained in the weeks before travelling to Delhi meant she wasn’t able to fire on all cylinders.

“Going into the Worlds, I was carrying a hand injury that I kept quiet. I hadn’t done much sparring, though I’m not using that as an excuse,” said Walsh.

“I had beaten her at the Europeans on a unanimous decision, but out there I didn’t perform how I know I can. That’s just the way boxing goes sometimes. It was still a close fight, a split decision, and it’s just something you have to learn from.

“At the time, going out there, I still felt as though I was mentally and physically prepared to do the business but things didn’t go to plan. When I came back, I was able to get my injury healed and able to get back to myself.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do the nationals but luckily everything worked out and I was able to enter. I was in working with the physios in SINI and they helped me back to full health.

“Now I’m able to punch with both hands, so everything’s going well. Considering this year there’s the European Games in June, the Worlds in September which is an Olympic qualifier, I couldn’t afford to take any risks.”

Along with the rest of the Irish team, Walsh has been part of a training camp at German Olympic Centre in Kienbaum for the past 10 days.

Having spent time there before the Worlds last year, she was well aware that, aside from boxing, there is little else to do.

“We went out for a bit of a kickabout there but it’s quiet enough here. The closest shop’s about 25 miles away,” she laughed.

“It’s been a long camp, especially for a multi-nations tournament, but sometimes it’s just good to be out of Dublin as well, a change of environment and different sparring partners.

“We were in this camp before the Worlds so we knew what to expect, that it would be a bit boring with not much to do, but it’s good to be focused. You’re ready to fight then.”

Teams from powerhouse nations such as Russia, Cuba and Great Britain will be competing at the Chemistry Cup – which gets under way after tomorrow’s draw – and Walsh has enjoyed some top spars leading into the competition.

“I’ve been sparring with Poland and Germany so far – Russia are here too but they’ve only sent fellas. It’s not that big of a camp but it’s good quality sparring.

“There are some great nations at this competition, and you want to test yourself against the best in the world. Everyone’s looking to perform, and you want to see who’s about at your weight. It’ll be a good test for everyone.

“Everyone’s flying at the minute, we had our last spar on Wednesday so it’s just weight management now, keeping sharp and keeping light.”

Also on the comeback trail after injuries are fellow Commonwealth Games silver medallists Brendan Irvine and Kurt Walker, both of whom will be eagerly awaiting tomorrow’s draw.

Holy Family pocket rocket Carly McNaul bids to keep up her impressive start to 2019 in the 51 kilo category, while James McGivern will be in the mix at 63kg.

IRISH TEAM

Chemistry Cup (April 10-14)

51kg: C McNaul (Holy Family)

57kg: M Walsh (Monkstown)

69kg: C Desmond (Fr Horgan’s)

69kg: G Walsh (Spartacus)

52kg: B Irvine (St Paul’s)

57kg: K Walker (Canal)

63kg: J McGivern (St George’s)

63kg: W Kelly (Portlaoise)

69kg: K Molloy (Oughterard)

75kg: E Brennan (Glasnevin)

81kg: J Ward (Spartacus)

91kg: T Browne (St Michael’s)

91kg+: D Gardiner (Clonmel)

Team manager: Bernard Dunne

Coaches: Zaur Antia, John Conlan, Damian Kennedy

Physiotherapist: Muireann Harte

Physiologist: Damian Martin

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Irish U22 champion Colm Murphy (right) is part of a four-strong County Antrim team competing at the Montana Belts tournament in France

LEFT HOOKS

A four-man County Antrim team are bound for the prestigious Montana Belts tournament in Paris, which gets under way on Thursday.

County Antrim has enjoyed some impressive results in the competition during years gone by, with the likes of James McGivern and Caoimhin Hynes returning home with gold.

And they will fancy their chances of impressing again at the weekend tournament, which runs until Saturday.

Ulster light-heavyweight champion Paul McCullagh (St John Bosco) is joined by 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games medallists Anthony Johnston and Colm Murphy (St George’s), as well Ulster Elite finalist Dylan Duffy from the Pegasus club.

McCullagh’s father, Paul sr, and Danny Boyd from St George’s are the coaches travelling to Argenteuil, while the experienced Chris McCrory (Townland) will be County Antrim’s R&J.

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ON the same weekend his sister Michaela is in action at the Chemistry Cup in Germany, Aidan Walsh is also set to make his return to the ring.

The Monkstown welterweight, who narrowly lost out to Limerick’s Paddy Donovan at the semi-final stage of the national elite championships in February, heads to Sweden with a four-strong Irish team from Friday to Sunday.

Former Irish middleweight champion Michael Nevin, Thomas O’Toole – who upset light-heavyweight favourite Tommy Hyde in the Irish final – and Castlerea’s Aoife O’Rourke are also travelling. They will be joined by coaches Dmitri Dmitruk and Mike Mongan.

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THE County Antrim Boy 1,2,3 and Girl 1-7 Championships get underway at Girdwood Community Hub tonight, and continues tomorrow and Thursday.

With a 7pm start, the fights listed for tonight are as follows.

Skill bouts

Boy 0: N Bacon (Saints) v C Hughes (Scorpion), F McCullagh (St John Bosco) v L McAuley (East Down), D O’Boyle (Scorpion) v K Brannigan (Lisburn), J Blades (Cairn Lodge) v H Corcoran (Castle), T Russell (Canal) v N Hall (Saints), C Wilkinson (Star) v G McCann (Oliver Plunkett)

Quarter-finals

Boy 1 37kg: C Irwin (St Canice’s) v B Shea-McNulty (Rathfriland); Boy 2 35kg: B Walsh (Holy Family) v C Girvan (Lisburn); Boy 2 40kg: AJ McDonald (Emerald) v C Burns (Holy Trinity), M Brown (Emerald) v J Doherty (Holy Trinity)

Semi-finals

Boy 1 33kg: A Scott (Glengormley) v F Lyttle (Holy Family), S Gray (Clonard) v J McCloskey (St Canice’s); Boy 1 38.5kg: Y Khalifa (Rathfriland) v F McCallin (St John Bosco); Boy 1 40kg: C Burgoyne (Lisburn) v C Fox (Oliver Plunkett); Boy 1 41.5kg: C McNally (St Paul’s) v T McAuley (Spartans), 41.5kg: J McAughey (St George’s) v J Rainey (Ledley Hall)

Finals

Girl 1 45kg: C Gorman (St Monica’s) v K Kearney (Clonard); Girl 3 55kg: C Young (Emerald) v G Magennis (Gleann); Girl 6 52kg: C Nelson (Lisburn) v N Clyde (Antrim); Girl 6 60kg: T Maguire (Immaculata) v Z McGlone (St Paul’s)

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