Jack McGivern edges past Belfast rival Jon McConnell to seal Ulster semi spot
Amateur boxing: Ulster Elite Championships
JACK McGivern kept alive his dream of following older brother James to the Commonwealth Games when he edged beyond Belfast rival Jon McConnell in an engrossing quarter-final clash at the Ulster Elite Championships last night.
In a fight that many considered the 63.5 kilo final before a punch had been thrown in this competition, St George’s ace McGivern had his hand raised on a 3-2 split decision that divided opinion among those watching on, as well as the ringside judges calling it.
The taller McGivern controlled the first, using his southpaw jab to dictate proceedings, staying patient and catching McConnell when the Holy Trinity man moved onto the front foot, finishing the round with an eye-catching one-two.
The first minute of the second round followed a similar pattern, McGivern’s jab still proving his greatest asset, but gradually McConnell’s class began to tell as he grew into the round, landing uppercuts and forcing the pace.
The round finished with the pair trading off on the ropes, and McConnell’s confidence was clear to see as he came out and took control of the third, stalking McGivern as the St George’s man looked to be tiring.
With a semi-final shot against Monkstown’s Robbie Gould tonight up for grabs, the pair again went at it in the dying seconds – and it was McGivern’s hand that was raised when all was said done.
Having also come out the wrong side of a closely contested Irish Elite semi-final fight with eventual champion Brandon McCarthy back in September, McConnell’s frustration was clear to see in the aftermath.
But, in his first year at elite level, it is obvious that a big future lies ahead.
For McGivern it is a step closer to a potential Commonwealth Games place, three years after James – a vocal presence in his brother’s corner at the Girdwood Community Hub last night – returned from Australia with a bronze medal around his neck.
“Jon’s a top operator, me and him are probably the top two in this competition at the minute and that was a barnburner of a fight,” he said.
“I had to stay switched on the whole fight, it was a very mentally tiring fight. Everybody in this competition is quality so you can’t afford to switch off for a second.
“James was in my corner, he’s been there and done it all before, he’s had the big fights. He was giving me all the advice and it worked.”
In the first fight of the night, Dominic Bradley recorded his second victory over Cookstown’s Teo Alin in the space of a matter of months – but this time there was very little to choose between them.
Alin came out strongly from the first bell but Bradley settled into the fight, and was sharper with his shots as he used his jab to set up two right hands.
But Alin probably edged the second, despite a hurtful shot to the body from Bradley early on, as the Cookstown man landed some eye-catching single shots in a scrappy round.
Pinning Bradley to the ropes at the start of the third, things looked to be going Alin’s way, with his jab also coming into play. But the smaller, quicker Bradley was still managing to get in and out impressively to keep the pressure on his opponent, and it is he who advances to a last four showdown with Erne’s Rhys Owens tonight after taking a 3-2 split.
Tonsilitis ruled Holy Family’s Diarmuid Toland out of his scheduled light-fly bout with Padraig Downey, the St John Bosco man moving into a final clash with the experienced Ricky Nesbitt tomorrow night.
Defending middleweight champion Jake Tucker was always in control in his semi-final against Cavan’s Stephen Flynn on the way to a unanimous decision win.
In the night’s other 75 kilo clash, Jordan Hamilton’s corner threw in the towel during the first round as Ardoyne’s Lex Weston proved too strong for the Cairn Lodge man.
Cavan’s Thomas Maughan and Carrickmore’s Aaron Travers will meet in the super-heavy final tomorrow night after victories over William McCartan (Gilford) and Denis Boriskins (Sacred Heart, Newry) sealed their spots.
Ulster Boy 3 final
44.5kg: Sean Gray (Clonard) v C Cassidy (Erne)
Ulster Elite semi-finals
60kg: R Owens (Erne) v D Bradley (Emerald), T McCann (St Paul’s) v R Lavery (Holy Family); 63.5kg: R Gould (Monkstown) v J McGivern (St George’s), 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)
F48kg: C Fleck (Canal) v N Clyde (Antrim); M48kg: R Nesbitt (St John Bosco, Newry) v 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); 92+kg: T Maughan (Cavan) v A Travers (Carrickmore)