Boxing

Seconds Out: Hopes high for another JP Hale and Colm Murphy classic on Ulster finals night

With the Ulster Elite Championship finals taking place tonight, Neil Loughran previews the action on what promises to be a huge night at the Ulster Hall…

Colm Murphy (left) and JP Hale served up a classic bantamweight final at the Ulster Hall last year, and they meet again in tonight's 57kg decider. Picture by Mark Marlow

W54kg: Clodagh McComiskey (Gilford) v Sionan McKenna (Holy Family)

McCOMISKEY has put plenty of hard work into her preparation for this Ulster final, and was recently up at the Immaculata getting in some valuable rounds with Caitlin Fryers – a walkover winner of the 52kg class following Carly McNaul’s withdrawal.

In the opposite corner is Sionan McKenna, who reached the final of last year’s Irish senior championships. There is unlikely to be much between this pair, but the Holy Family woman could hold the edge.

Verdict: McKenna

49kg: Craig Bigger (Cookstown) v Diarmuid Toland (Holy Family, Belfast)

LURGAN native Toland is as solid a 49kg fighter as you’ll see, and hopes to follow in the footsteps of other famous Holy Family light-flyweights Hugh Russell and Paddy Barnes by landing the Ulster elite title.

Bigger showcased his own potential in the Irish U18 Championships last summer, producing some impressive performances en route to the final. However, with the benefit of a semi-final win over the experienced Ricky Nesbitt already under his belt, Toland gets the nod.

Verdict: Toland

60kg: Mosa Kambule (Holy Trinity) v Rory Lavery (Holy Family)

RORY Lavery came out the right side of a good fight with Star’s Lee McKee a week ago, but Kambule presents a different kind of challenge tonight. The Holy Trinity fighter was too quick for Cookstown’s Teo Alin in the last four and there was some surprise when he was adjudged to have only won the fight on a split, most feeling he had taken all three rounds. An intriguing encounter awaits.

Verdict: Kambule

81kg: Kane Tucker (Emerald) v Garth McDowell (Eastside)

A COUPLE of years after moving up to light-heavy, Tucker looks increasingly strong at the weight. Suitably impressed the Irish coaches in behind-closed-doors spars to be selected for the World Elite Championships last September, and should have too much for McDowell tonight.

Verdict: Tucker

91+kg: Denis Boriskins (Sacred Heart, Newry) v Patrick Rogers (St John’s, Derry)

ROGERS had a frustrating evening against Belfast’s Frankie ‘Bring Your Brothers’ Carruthers last Thursday night, but kept his cool and was still a clear winner. The experienced Boriskins, meanwhile, landed some big shots on the way to beating Bangor’s William Close in the other semi-final.

Rogers, at 6”6, has the height to dominate and carries serious power in that right hand. Boriskins is always dangerous, but Rogers looks well placed to bring the title back to Derry.

Verdict: Rogers

91kg: Karol Dlugosz (Immaculata) v Michel Erpelding (Holy Family)

LUXEMBORGIAN Erpelding was given all he wanted by Newington’s Stephen McMullan in the semi-final, and will need to up his game if he is to get the better of ‘Krusher’ Dulgosz tonight.

Now training at Immaculata, Dlugosz had to stay disciplined against Cavan mover Thomas Maughan, choosing his moments wisely to go on the front foot. If he follows the same template, the defending champion can hold on to the heavyweight crown for another year.

Verdict: Dlugosz

63kg: Jack McGivern (St George’s) v Daryl Clarke (Monkstown)

A TACTICAL battle awaits. Clarke is straight out of the Monkstown academy and has more than a bit of Aidan Walsh about him in the way he moves and looks to counter from the ropes. McGivern, though, has shown a bit of everything in his two wins to reach this stage – he boxed beautifully on the back foot to pick off Ben Ferran in the quarter-final before being brought into the trenches at times by Dominic Bradley, especially in the first round. Managed to navigate those choppy waters, and can use his physical advantages to edge to victory again tonight.

Verdict: McGivern

75kg: Jake Tucker (Emerald) v Gerard French (Emerald)

IN his first fight as a senior boxer, this is a real test for the younger Tucker brother. French has been about at Ulster and Irish level for years, pulling off some big results and possessing power in both hands. Tucker, though, is a seriously classy operator and looks to have the upper hand in terms of skill and movement.

Despite sharing the same club, the pair have never sparred. Very tough one to call, with potential for sparks to fly.

Verdict: Tucker

69kg: Eugene McKeever (Holy Family, Drogheda) v Matthew McCole (Illies GG)

DEFENDING champion McKeever means every punch he throws, but showed he could box plenty as well in getting the better of Holy Trinity’s Edgar Vuskans at the semi-final stage last week. Picked his shots well and didn’t rush his work, the Mullaghbawn man will likely have to adopt the same approach against the slippery McCole tonight.

Dungloe native McCole, currently boxing out of the Illies Golden Gloves club, won the Irish senior title last November and was named boxer of the tournament. He proved too slick for Clonard’s Tiernan Duffy in the last four and his movement and long limbs will give McKeever plenty of problems.

If McKeever catches up with him, though, it could be a hard night.

Verdict: McKeever

57kg: JP Hale (Star) v Colm Murphy (St George’s)

A FITTING way to close the show as the two men who served up the 2019 fight of the night find themselves back under the lights again.

On that occasion Hale dropped Murphy in the first round and had to hold off a sustained fightback from the St George’s man in the next two rounds to have his hand raised.

A similar kind of encounter can be expected tonight – everybody going to the Ulster Hall will be hoping that’s the case anyway. Murphy is a slow starter, and had to pick himself off the canvas in his semi-final win over Emerald’s Kane Marshall. Big-hitting Hale will surely try and exploit this again but he also has to be ready for Murphy being in his face for every second of every minute of every round.

The 20-year-old has an incredible engine, never stops coming forward and throwing punches, and it is for this reason he gets the most tentative of nods to land his first Ulster Elite title.

Verdict: Murphy

TONIGHT’S RUNNING ORDER

Ulster Elite Championship finals (7.15pm start)

W51kg: C Fryers (Immaculata) walkover

52kg: J O’Neill (Corpus Christi) walkover

64kg/69kg special contest: S O’Callaghan (Clann Naofa) v R Doherty (St Francis’s, Limerick)

W54kg: C McComiskey (Gilford) v S McKenna (Holy Family)

49kg: C Bigger (Cookstown) v D Toland (Holy Family, Belfast)

60kg: M Kambule (Holy Trinity) v R Lavery (Holy Family)

Interval

81kg: G McDowell (Eastside) v K Tucker (Emerald)

91+kg: D Boriskins (Sacred Heart, Newry) v P Rogers (St John’s, Derry)

91kg: K Dlugosz (Immaculata) v M Erpelding (Holy Family)

63kg: J McGivern (St George’s) v D Clarke (Monkstown)

75kg: J Tucker (Emerald) v G French (Emerald)

69kg: E McKeever (Holy Family, Drogheda) v M McCole (Illies GG)

57kg: JP Hale (Star) v C Murphy (St George’s)

****************

He stole the show with an interval appearance at the Devenish last Thursday, and young Dáithí Mac Gabhann will be the star attraction at the Ulster Elite finals tonight when he makes his ring debut at the famous Ulster Hall. His opponent will be Paddy Barnes and, five months after the two-time Olympic medallist retired, Dáithí will be hoping he can soften up ‘The Leprechaun’ in front of a full house. Three-year-old Dáithí was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and has been on the waiting list for a heart transplant for more than 500 days. His family started this Donate4Dáithí campaign to raise awareness of organ donation while he waits, and more information is available at www.donate4daithi.org. Picture by Mark Marlow

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