Grainne Walsh first Irish boxer up at World Olympic qualifier

Aidan Walsh begins Paris bid on Sunday; GB’s Amy Broadhurst fights on Monday

A devastated Grainne Walsh is embraced by Poland's Aneta Rygielska after Monday's winner-takes-all 66kg quarter-final in Italy. Picture by Ben McShane/Sportsfile
Grainne Walsh missed out on qualification for Paris 2024 in controversial circumstances following final day defeat to Poland's Aneta Rygielska in Italy. Picture by Ben McShane/Sportsfile (Ben McShane / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)
Amateur boxing: World Olympic qualifier

SHE was the last Irish boxer to enter the fray in Italy almost three months ago, but Grainne Walsh will be first between the ropes when the final World Olympic qualifier gets under way in Bangkok on Friday.

The Offaly woman - who got the nod ahead of world champions Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O’Rourke for a second crack at qualification - faces Ngoc Mai Hoang at around 2.15pm.

Walsh has had to overcome the devastation of her controversial near miss on the final day in Italy, the 28-year-old coming out on the wrong side of a split decision against Aneta Rygielska as the Pole sealed her place in Paris this summer.

South Korea’s Hyo Sun Hwang awaits the winner of Walsh-Mai Hoang in the last 32 on Wednesday, with a semi-final spot required to reach the Olympics.

Belfast light-middle Aidan Walsh gets his bid to reach a second successive Games under way against Kenya’s Mogunde Boniface Maina in the last 64 on Sunday. Either Youcef Islam Yaiche (Algeria) or Salvatore Cavallaro (Italy) await the winner on Tuesday.

Tokyo bronze medallist Walsh returned from over a year away from the ring to compete in Busto Arsizio, but the Holy Family counter-puncher – hoping to join big sister Michaela in Paris - came unstuck against Brazilian Wanderson de Oliveira.

In Thailand, there are five quota places up for grabs at 66kg.

All eyes will be on Broadhurst on Monday following her last-minute decision to change allegiance from Ireland to Team GB to keep her Olympic dream alive.

The Dundalk woman, who fought at 66kg in last year’s European qualifier and qualifies for GB through English-born father Tony, has been selected at 60kg – boxing at lightweight for the first time since winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham almost two years ago.

Qualification could set Broadhurst on a possible collision course with former rival Kellie Harrington in Paris, but first she has to reach the French capital.

Broadhurst takes on Spain’s Sheila Martinez on Monday, with the winner facing either Terris Smith (Canada) or Bulgaria’s Aslahan Sezgin in the last 16 two days later. There are only three quota places available at 60kg.

The Irish Athletic Boxing Association has opted to boycott competitions run by the International Boxing Association. Ireland returned from last year's women's Worlds with two gold medals, courtesy of Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O'Rourke. Picture by INPHO
Amy Broadhurst, a 2022 World and European champion for Ireland, will represent Team GB at the final World Olympic qualifier in Thailand. Picture by INPHO

Dublin light-fly Sean Mari is the second Irish boxer between the ropes in Bangkok when he goes toe-to-toe with Pakistan’s Muhammad Faheem on Saturday, with the winner taking on Malaysia’s Ariffin Muhammad Abdul Quaiyim in the last 32 on Thursday. There are four quota places at 51kg.

Waterford light-heavy Kelyn Cassidy – who has fallen just short on his two qualification attempts so far – also enters the fray on Saturday, when he faces Germany’s Delil Dadaev, who will have former Irish coach Eddie Bolger in his corner. There are three quota spots at 80kg.

Jennifer Lehane is also making her third and final attempt at reaching Paris, with Puerto Rico’s Angelyris Lopez standing between the Mayo woman and a place in the last 16 on Tuesday as she bids to land one of the four quota places for Paris.

Super-heavy Martin McDonagh, so impressive in Busto Arsizio, has received a bye through to the last 32 in Bangkok, where he will face Vietnam’s Doan Ngoc Minh Hieu on Wednesday. Cuba’s Fernando Arzola or Mexican Javier Cruz await the winner on Saturday, June 1, with a semi-final place required for qualification.

The last of the Irish contingent to step between the ropes will be light-fly Daina Moorehouse when she takes on Armenia’s Anush Grigoryan in the last 32 on Friday, May 31.

Having come so close in both the European and World qualifiers, the Enniskerry pocket rocket will be hoping to nail down one of the four quota places at the last time of asking.

The Irish boxers are hoping to join already-qualified Kellie Harrington, Michaela Walsh, Aoife O’Rourke, Jude Gallagher, Dean Clancy and Jack Marley on the plane to Paris.

The same as at the first World qualifier, boxers will contest to quota – meaning the competition will end once the qualification bout is complete, so there will be no semi-finals or finals, and no medals handed out.


Friday, May 24

66kg round of 64: G Walsh v N Mai Hoang (Vietnam)


50kg round of 64: S Mari v M Faheem (Pakistan)

80kg round of 64: K Cassidy v Delil Dadaev (Germany)


71kg round of 64: A Walsh v M Boniface Maina (Kenya)


60kg round of 32: A Broadhurst (GB) v S Martinez (Spain)


54kg round of 64: J Lehane v A Lopez (Puerto Rico)


92+kg round of 32: M McDonagh v D Ngoc Minh Hieu (Vietnam)

Friday, May 31

50kg round of 32: D Moorehouse v A Grigoryan (Armenia)