Boxing Video: Seconds Out: Tucker brothers raring to go at Ulster Elites

Brothers Jake and Kane Tucker with trainer Harry Hawkins as they prepare for next month's Ulster Elite Championships. Picture by Hugh Russell
Neil Loughran

TRAINER Harry Hawkins is backing both Tucker brothers to show what they are made of at next month’s Ulster Elite Championships.

It will be a first step up to elite level for 18-year-old Jake, while elder sibling Kane looks to build on a year when his performances in Abbotstown earned him a surprise call up for the World Elite Championships.

The 19-year-old was right in the frame for a shot at the European Olympic qualifier in March until a hand injury forced him out of the Irish Elite Championships last November.

However, after initial fears that he had suffered a fracture, subsequent tests revealed that wasn’t the case, with Kane returning to sparring this week.

Dublin’s former Irish middleweight champion Emmett Brennan - who Tucker had been due to face in the light-heavyweight last eight - went on to take the 81kg title and put himself in pole position for the qualifier at London’s Copper Box Arena.

But, depending on how Brennan performs if picked, the door could yet re-open, with the final World Olympic qualifier taking place in Paris in May.

“It was just unfortunate the way it worked out in Dublin,” said Hawkins.

“I fancied Kane to win the all Irelands, I really did. He had a great win first up then he was to fight Emmett Brennan the next night but he damaged his hand.

“We were all set, I know Kane’s young but we would’ve fancied our chances against him, even though he was in great shape. We’d have fancied our chances against anybody really, but the hand swelled up badly overnight and that was that.

“Emmett won a good weight division and he deserves his shot at the Olympic trials. If he qualifies, the best of luck to him. We’re quite realistic – Kane’s 19 years of age and his time will come.”

First up will be the Ulster Elites, but Tucker won’t get the chance to pit his wits against defending champion Paul McCullagh.

The St John Bosco banger confirmed last week that he had turned over to the paid ranks, and Hawkins admits it is a shame for all concerned that the two won’t get to trade leather in a domestic dust up.

“That’s a fight we were looking forward to - especially Kane,” he said.

“But we’re looking forward to the Ulsters regardless, a good win there could put us in the frame if there is going to be [Olympic qualifier] box-offs down the road. I’m not sure if there will be but if there is, we would hope to be in that picture.

“I can see the experience gained from going to the Worlds last year, even in terms of showing Jake wee things he maybe picked up from the Cubans and the Russians. I can see a really confident fella coming along and I can see him bring that on to Jake too.

“It was a great achievement to be picked for that and it has brought him on a lot. If he gets the opportunity of a shot at an Olympic qualifier, with the experience gained there, he’d be hard to shift.”

Since he started working with the Newry brothers, Hawkins has always taken a long-term view, believing their very best will come down the road.

And, with Ulster High Performance coach John Conlan watching from ringside at the Dockers club and the Ulster Hall next month, it is a chance to impress as his thoughts turn to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“We always thought the 2020 Olympics was coming a bit early,” said Hawkins.

“It was a great bonus for Kane to be selected for the Worlds, but the goal for both of them is the 2022 Commonwealths.

“These Ulster finals won’t book your place or anything, but it will put you in the frame for Commonwealth selection and that’s where we intend to stay.

“This will be Jake’s first elite competition. I know there’s a couple of strong boys in there and older lads, but he’s training really hard, he’s looking extra rounds, going really well in the gym and we’ve stepped up the sparring to prepare him for it.

“This is a chance for both of them to lay down a marker ahead of the Commonwealth Games.”


Holy Trinity's Kyle Smith celebrates his Ulster title win in Newry at the weekend. He is pictured with club coaches Michael Hawkins, Ciaran Scullion (left) and Robert Fisher (right)

Holy Trinity will be holding a night of exhibition boxing at the Trinity Lodge on Thursday, showcasing the skills of some up and coming talent as well as champion boxers the club has produced.

Starting at 7pm, there will be 18 exhibitions involving boxers from Clonard, North Down, Evolution and Gilford.

Click on link below for Holy Trinity training session... Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much...




John McConnell faces another all-Ulster clash on Friday night as he eyes a place in the final of the Irish U18 Championships.

The Holy Trinity lightweight got the better of Belfast rival Tomas McCann 5-0 at the weekend and now faces off against Cahir Gormley, who boxes out of the Illies GG club in Letterkenny, in the semi-final.

McCann’s St Paul’s club-mate Dylan Eagleson delivered one of the performances of the night at the National Stadium as he proved too slick for the highly-decorated Johnny Joyce of Olympic, Mullingar.

The secured a place in the January 31 light-fly final, where the Bangor teenager takes on Letterkenny’s Paddy McShane, who scored a unanimous win over Cian O’Toole (St David’s, Naas).

Gleann’s Martin McCullough came out the right side of a tough fight with Glengormley’s Chad Magill to move into the bantamweight final, where he comes up against Jack Connors of St David’s, Naas on January 31.

Raphoe’s Leah Gallen will be at the stadium that night too after seeing off Dominika Gulli (Bracken) to set up a 69kg decider against Crumlin’s Shelby Myers.

Gallen’s club-mate Liam McMonagle and Emeka Onwuka (All Saints) are in semi-final action in the welterweight division on Friday night, with McMonagle facing James Whelan (Dublin Docklands) and up against Crumlin’s 11-time Irish champion and European gold medallist William Hayden.

Monkstown’s Frank Duffin faces Eoghan Lavin (Ballyhaunis) in a middleweight last four clash, with Tiernan Mayse of Two Castles in the other semi-final against Patrick Lawlor (Brian Dillon’s).

Irish U18 Championship semi-finals National Stadium Dublin

Friday (6.30pm)

60kg: A Byrne (Kilcullen) v C Lewis (Ballymun)

60kg: C Gormley (Illies GG) v J McConnell (Holy Trinity)

69kg: L McMonagle (Raphoe) v J Whelan (Dublin Docklands)

69kg: E Onwuka (All Saints) v W Hayden (Crumlin)

75kg: E Lavin (Ballyhaunis) v F Duffin (Monkstown, Antrim)

75kg: P Lawlor (Brian Dillon’s) v T Mayse (Two Castles)

81kg: J Myers (Titans) v D Treen (Dungarvan)

81kg: Z Ribbon (St Anne’s) v E Samba (Four Kings)

91kg: J Ward (Brosna) v J Redmond (Ballybrack)

91kg: P Maughan (Ballyhaunis) v J Marley (Monkstown, Dublin)

91+kg: N Ivanauskas (St David’s, Naas) v T Leddy (Aglish)

91+kg: P Myers (Sligo City) v B McDonagh (St Anne’s)



East Down ABC had two winners on finals day at the Ulster 9 County Boy/Girl 4567 Championships, which were held in St John Bosco, Newry over the weekend. In the Boy 4 60 kilo decider, Emmett O’Donnell (pictured above) edged out Ronan McNamee (St John’s), while Bryce Collins (pictured below) got the better of Holy Trinity’s Diarmuid Bradley in a high quality Boy 6 46kg contest. There are 16 more titles up for grabs in Newry on Saturday, with the action getting under way at St John Bosco at 11am. Last weekend's final results as follows - B4 36kg: L Rooney (Star) bt D McAleavy (SJB, Newry) 4-1; B4 44kg: K Smith (Holy Trinity) bt C Graham (Moneyglass) 5-0; B4 46kg: L Hanna (Townland) bt K McGonigle (St Bridget’s) 5-0; B4 50kg: E White (Castleblaney) by P Money (Moneyglass) 4-1; B4 52kg: G Brown (Emerald) bt S Hara (Errigal) 3-2; B4 57kg: B McDonagh (Dunfanaghy) bt L Rodgers (Omagh B&G) 5-0; B4 60kg: E O’Donnell (East Down) bt R McNamee (St John’s) 3-2; G4 66kg: E Aisling-Ridge (Letterkenny) bt Ellie Young (Coleraine) 3-2; B4 70kg: C McGillion (Two Castles) bt C Devenny (Oakleaf) 5-0; B5 80kg: J Muckian (Silverbridge) bt BJ Evans (Gilford) 4-1; B5 46kg: D McGuigan (Clonard) bt C Devine (Oliver Plunkett) 5-0; B5 50kg: B McComiskey (Gilford) bt B Ramsey (Bangor) 5-0; B5 52kg: D Keary (Rathfriland) bt F Duffy (John McCoy) RSC1; G5 52kg: C Gibbons (St Bronagh’s) bt M Murray (Oakleaf) RSC2; B5 54kg: B McDonagh (Dunfanaghy) bt L McMahon (Spartans) 5-0; B5 70kg: J McGuinness (St Monica’s) bt C Neill (Ardoyne) 3-2; B5 75kg: J Walker (Lisburn) bt S Davey (Townland) 5-0; G6 63kg: S McCloskey (Carn) bt R McGlinchey (Letterkenny) 5-0; B6 46kg: B Collins (East Down) bt D Bradley (Holy Trinity) 5-0; B6 54kg: S Fee (Two Castles) bt J O’Donnell (St George’s) 5-0; B6 60kg: J McVicar (Castleblaney) bt E O’Gara (SJB, Donegal) 5-0; B6 70kg: R O’Gorman (St Malachy’s) bt C Donnelly (Rathfriland) 5-0; B6 75kg: T Cunningham (St Joseph’s) bt C McCormack (Gleann) RSC3

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