Olympians watch on as fresh talent emerges at Irish Elites

Evelyn Igharo proved too strong for Aoife O'Rourke in the 70kg final at the Irish Elite Championships in Dublin Picture: Hugh Russell
By Neil Loughran

Amateur boxing: Irish Elite Championship finals

OLYMPIANS were dotted around the National Stadium on Saturday night – and there were plenty who showed they have the potential to force themselves into the frame for Paris 2024.

Beijing ’08 silver medallist Kenneth Egan was joined in the commentary booth by Tokyo Olympians Kurt Walker and Michaela Walsh at various intervals, Michael Carruth - Ireland’s only male gold medallist - was working the corner of Drimnagh’s Kellie McLoughlin, while London 2012 veteran Darren O’Neill rolled back the years to claim the cruiserweight title.

Yet while none of the seven who represented in Ireland during the summer stepped between the ropes, the Irish Elite Championships - as always - shone a spotlight on some real talents. Eighteen-year-old heavyweight Jack Marley added to his burgeoning reputation while Adam Hession proved he could be a bona fide contender to Kurt Walker after coming through the tough side of the draw to the land the featherweight title.

When asked where he stood with regards to the World Championships later this month, Walker was non-commital but suggested it was unlikely he would be in Poland as he had only returned to training. That could open the door for Hession.

Evelyn Igharo caught the eye once more at this level, proving far too strong and fit for Lisa O’Rourke in their 70 kilo clash - and what about Kelyn Cassidy in the final fight of the night, coming in and forcing a first round stoppage of pre-fight favourite Tommy Hyde? It was some way to announce his arrival at light-heavy having previously campaigned at 75kg.

In the eagerly-anticipated 60kg decider, JP Hale produced a disciplined, punch-perfect performance to take the 60kg title against Emerald’s Dominic Bradley, really forcing the pace in the second and third rounds to claim the crown.

Another all-Ulster clash saw Immaculata’s Caitlin Fryers come out on top against tall, rangy Antrim southpaw Nicole Clyde in an engrossing encounter. With Gerry ‘Nugget’ Nugent and Martin Lindsay in her corner, Fryers set the pace from the first bell, and the west Belfast woman’s work-rate proved the difference as she claimed a unanimous decision.

At 63 kilos, Brandon McCarthy claimed victory over an Ulster boxer for the second week in-a-row when he proved just too sharp for Jack McGivern, having edged out Holy Trinity’s John McConnell in the semi-final.

McCarthy and McGivern met several times through their underage careers, and the St Michael’s, Athy man was always that bit quicker to the punch, pouncing on any McGivern hesitation. In his first Irish Elite Championships, the St George’s man will be back at this stage in years to come.

Mullaghbawn’s Eugene McKeever – who boxes out of the Holy Family club in Drogheda – boxed brilliantly to outwit former Irish champion Wayne Kelly on his way to the 67 kilo crown, while Letterkenny’s Paddy McShane got the better of Padraig Downey (St John Bosco) on a 3-2 split in the 51kg final.

Earlier in the evening, 36-year-old Darren O’Neill completed his fairytale return to top level boxing when he won his eighth Irish title against Faolain Rahill (DCU).

At the other end of the age scale, teenager Jack Marley (Monkstown) was a comfortable 5-0 winner over Marcin Skalski (Athlone), while Galway middleweight Gabriel Dossen picked up his second elite title at the age of 22 when he claimed a unanimous points win over Sean Donaghy (St Canice’s Derry).

Kaci Rock, daughter of former pro fighter Jim Rock, was crowned welterweight champion, Beth Doocey (Castlebar) is the new light heavyweight champion while Eve Woods (Corinthians) won the light-welterweight title in her first adult fight.

Meanwhile, AIBA have announced that the 2021 women’s World championships will take place in Istanbul. No dates have been confirmed as yet, but the event is expected to be held in early December.


Irish Elite Championship finals

48kg: R Nesbitt (Holy Family, Drogheda) WO

75kg: G Dossen (Olympic, Galway) bt S Donaghy (St Canice’s, Derry) 5-0

63kg: E Woods (Corinthians, Dublin) bt G Duffy (St Mary’s, Dublin) 5-0

66kg: K Rock (Enniskerry, Wicklow) bt K Attwell (Tobair Pheadair, Galway) RSC3

81kg: B Doocey (Castlebar, Mayo) bt N Fox (Rathkeale, Limerick) 5-0

86kg: D O’Neill (Paulstown, Kilkenny) bt F Rahill (DCU, Dublin) 5-0

92kg: J Marley (Monkstown, Dublin) bt M Skalski (Athlone, Westmeath) 5-0

92+kg: M Keenan (Rathkeale, Limerick) bt T Maughan (Cavan) 3-2

48kg: S Sweeney (St Anne’s, Westport) bt C Coughlin (Monkstown, Dublin) 5-0

51kg: P McShane (Letterkenny, Donegal) bt P Downey (St John Bosco, Antrim) 3-2

50kg: C Fryers (Immaculata, Antrim) bt N Clyde (Antrim) 5-0

52kg: D Moorehouse (Enniskerry, Wicklow) bt N Early (Ryston, Kildare) 5-0

57kg: A Hession (Monivea, Galway) bt S Purcell (Saviours Crystal, Waterford) 5-0

54kg: S Hagightat-Jo (St Brigid’s, Edenderry) bt N Fay (Ballyboughal, Dublin) 3-2

60kg: JP Hale (Star, Antrim) bt D Bradley (Emerald, Antrim) 5-0

57kg: J Lehane (DCU, Dublin) bt K McLoughlin (Drimnagh, Dublin) 5-0

63.5kg: B McCarthy (Athy, Kildare) bt J McGivern (St George’s, Antrim) 5-0

67kg: E McKeever (Holy Family, Drogheda) bt W Kelly (Ballynacargy, Westmeath) 4-1

70kg: E Igharo (Clann Naofa, Dundalk) bt L O’Rourke (Castlerea, Roscommon) 5-0

71kg: K Molloy (Oughterard, Galway) bt L Maguire (Esker, Dublin) 5-0

80kg: K Cassidy (Saviours Crystal, Waterford) bt T Hyde (St .Michael’s, Athy, Kildare) RSC1

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