Boxing

Amy Broadhurst setting Common goals as part of big 2022 plans

Dundalk boxer Amy Broadhurst, who is affiliated to the St Bronagh's club in Rostrevor, weighed in for her first crack at the Ulster Elites on Sunday, and will face Christine Gargan in Thursday night's 60 kilo final at Girdwood Community Hub. Picture by Mark Marlow
Neil Loughran

PARIS 2024 hopeful Amy Broadhurst has thrown her hat into the ring to represent Team NI at next summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The Dundalk woman - a 2019 European bronze medallist who has eyes on the next Olympics - qualifies for Commonwealth selection through her English dad Tony, and is affiliated to the St Bronagh’s club in Rostrevor.

Broadhurst attended the initial assessments over Hallowe’en weekend, and will face the experienced Christine Gargan at the Girdwood Community Hub on Thursday night after both received a bye through to the 60 kilo Ulster Elite final.

“The Commonwealths has been on my radar for probably the past 18 months or so,” said the 24-year-old

“I have an English passport, a northern address and I’m affiliated to a northern club - I meet all the criteria, so hopefully it’s a matter of winning the Ulsters and then getting selected.

“I remember watching the last couple of Commonwealths, and I’ve thought about them for a long time but wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go or not. When I looked into it I was eligible, and it’s something I would love to experience.”

Broadhurst recently returned from a training camp with the Irish women’s squad in Italy, initially scheduled as preparation for the World Championships before they were postponed until next March.

For a woman who hasn’t boxed since losing out to Olympic bronze medallist Mira Potkonen at the Strandja tournament in early 2020, Broadhurst is itching to get back between the ropes – with the rescheduled Worlds, European Games and the Commonwealths all on the horizon in a stacked 2022.

After picking up the lightweight crown at the Irish Elite Championships earlier this year, Broadhurst was told she would be going to the Worlds at 63kg to avoid any conflict with Olympic champion Kellie Harrington.

However, her intentions looking into the next Olympic cycle have changed.

Broadhurst flew out to Tokyo with the Irish team last summer, and was Harrington’s main sparring partner in the lead-up to the Games. Despite an earlier rivalry, that arrangement proved mutually beneficial as the Dubliner went all the way to the top of the podium.

But Broadhurst insists she won’t be staying out of Harrington’s way any longer.

“Going forward, every championships that come up, I’m going to enter at 60 kilos. I’m not going to shy away from it.

“There’s obviously talk about 63 being added into the Olympic weights as well and, if so, happy days. But if not I’ll be staying at 60. I’m comfortable at both weights, though I’ve really developed in the last year or so and grown into a big 60.”

Just as Harrington went all the way back in August, Broadhurst makes no bones about the fact she would love to replicate that achievement when Paris rolls around – even if it means reigniting her rivalry with the 31-year-old.

“It’s a mad one… I think Kellie knows right well that I will be entering at 60, and that probably changes things. Before the Olympics we were very friendly - it’s kind of, not awkward now, but we know there’s a chance we’re going to fight each other again. Before, no-one knew what was going to happen.

“We still get along, don’t get me wrong, and we’re still sparring. At the end of the day I’m very lucky to be having work done with an Olympic champion, and vice-versa, I’d like to think I helped her a little bit coming up to the Olympics because I was brought to Tokyo as her training partner, so I must have been doing something right.

“She asked the coaches if I could be her last spar before she went into the Olympic village, so we benefit off each other.”

The pair have only met once competitively before, with Harrington having her hand raised at the end of the 2018 Irish elite final, but Broadhurst believes she is better equipped now.

“I wouldn’t say we know each other inside out, and if I was going to box her I’d probably re-watch the spars, see what works and doesn’t work. Kellie punishes your mistakes, so the key thing is to not to make any mistakes.

“Over the last six months I’ve noticed my body developing, I am getting better. I think the next time people see me box they’ll see the improvements I’ve made over the last few years.

“I know I’m up there with the very best in world, but with boxing comes a bit of luck as well. I’ll put in the work and what’s meant for me won’t pass me.

“That situation with Kellie is away down the line. There won’t be another elite championships for another year or so. I’m just going to focus on the Worlds, the Europeans, the Commonwealths, and trying to make my own success.”

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Light-fly Ricky Nesbitt will face the winner of ttonight's semi-final between Diarmuid Toland and Padraig Downey in Thursday's 48kg final. Picture by Mark Marlow

O'CONNELL AND McGIVERN CAN SERVE UP PRE-CHRISTMAS CRACKER

SOME mouth-watering contests will kick off the Ulster Elite Championships at the Girdwood Community Hub tonight - with the showdown between up-and-coming stars Jon O’Connell and Jack McGivern sure to be a cracker.

Both men lost out to eventual 63.5kg champion Brandon McCarthy at the Irish Elite Championships back in September, and will be keen to force their way into the thoughts of Ulster High Performance coach John Conlan ahead of next summer’s Commonwealth Games.

It will be a first Ulster elites for Holy Trinity’s McConnell - a European junior bronze medallist in 2018 - while McGivern reached the 63kg final in 2020, coming up short against Monkstown’s Daryl Clarke.

Opening the action tonight is the lightweight showdown between Teo Alin and Dominic Bradley, Emerald boxer Bradley having beaten his Cookstown opponent at the Irish elites recently, while the light-fly bout between Diarmuid Toland (Holy Family) and Padraig Downey (St John Bosco) has the makings of an entertaining encounter.

Defending middleweight champion Jack Tucker takes on Cavan’s Stephen Flynn in the first semi-final, before the meeting of Ardoyne’s Lex Weston and Jordan Hamilton (Cairn Lodge).

Holy Family’s Rory Lavery, who took the 60kg crown last time, returns to the ring against Tomas McCann (St Paul’s) tomorrow night, while Irish 67 kilo champion Eugene McKeever comes up against Matthew McCole in an intriguing clash of styles.

Among the finals already scheduled for Thursday, Jude Gallagher and Monkstown’s Conor Kerr bid to stake a claim for the 57kg spot vacated by Tokyo Olympian Kurt Walker, who turned pro last month, while 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Carly McNaul faces Sionnan McKenna (Holy Family) in the 52kg decider.

Ulster Elite Championships draw

Tonight (7.30pm start)

Quarter-finals

60kg: T Alin (Cookstown) v D Bradley (Emerald); 63.5kg: J McGivern (St George’s) v J McConnell (Holy Trinity)

Semi-finals

48kg: D Toland (Holy Family) v P Downey (St John Bosco); 75kg: S Flynn (Cavan) v J Tucker (Emerald), J Hamilton (Cairn Lodge) v L Weston (Ardoyne); 92+kg: W McCartan (Gilford) v T Maughan (Cavan), A Travers (Carrickmore) v D Boriskins (Sacred Heart, Newry)

Tomorrow (7.30pm)

Ulster Boy 3 final

44.5kg: Sean Gray (Clonard) v C Cassidy (Erne)

Ulster Elite semi-finals

60kg: Rhys Owens (Erne) v T Alin (Cookstown)/D Bradley (Emerald), T McCann (St Paul’s) v R Lavery (Holy Family); 63.5kg: R Gould (Monkstown) v J McGivern (St George’s)/J McConnell (Holy Trinity), A Malanaphy (Erne) v L McKee (Star); 67kg: C Jennings (Holy Family) v G Arthurs (Gleann); 67kg: E McKeever (St Malachy’s, Newry) v M McCole (Illies)

Thursday (7.30pm)

Confirmed finals

F48kg: C Fleck (Canal) v N Clyde (Antrim); M48kg: R Nesbitt (St John Bosco, Newry) v D Toland (Holy Family)/P Downey (St John Bosco); 51kg: P McShane (Letterkenny) v C Biggar (Cookstown); F52kg: S McKenna (Holy Family) v C McNaul (Ormeau Road); F54kg: C McComiskey (Gilford) v N Meli (Immaculata); 57kg: J Gallagher (Two Castles) v C Kerr (Monkstown); F60kg: A Broadhurst (St Bronagh’s) v C Gargan (St George’s); 71kg: J Boyd (Gleann) v E Onwuka (All Saints); 80kg: R Kinney (Scorpion) v G French (Emerald); 92kg: C Boyle (Monktown) v S McMullan (Newington)

Walkovers

50kg: C Fryers (Immaculata); 54kg: J O’Neill (Corpus Christi); 57kg: M Walsh (Monkstown); 66kg: E Nugent (Immaculata); 70kg: R Doherty (Star); 86kg: K Tucker (Emerald)

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Boxing