Michaela Walsh bows out of European Championships in Belgrade

Olympic champion Harrington prepares to enter fray

Michaela Walsh looks confident as she progresses to the quarter-finals of the European Games in Krakow (Pic: Sportsfile)
Michaela Walsh lost out to France's Sthelyne Grosy at the European Championships in Belgrade. Picture by Sportsfile

IT wasn’t to be for Michaela Walsh as she bowed out of the European Championships in Serbia on Monday night.

The Holy Family featherweight - looking forward to a second consecutive Olympic Games in Paris this summer - was up against Sthelyne Grosy in Belgrade, but fell to a unanimous decision defeat after a tough encounter.

Just before Walsh stepped between the ropes, Niamh Fay secured her spot in the 54kg last eight after taking a split decision victory over Russia’s Karina Tazabekova. The Dubliner faces experienced Bulgarian Stanmira Petrova in Tuesday’s quarter-final.

Earlier in Monday’s evening session, light-fly Shannon Sweeney booked her quarter-final spot with a unanimous decision win over Russia’s Geliusa Galieva. Mayo meets Laura Fuertes Fernandez in a last eight showdown on Tuesday.

Olympic champion Kellie Harrington finally enters the fray on Tuesday, bidding to retain the European lightweight title claimed in Budva two years ago.

The 34-year-old - who has already secured her place in Paris this summer - received a bye into the last eight, where familiar foe Rebecca Nicoli lies in wait. The experienced Italian got the better of Turkey’s Ozer Gizem, and now meets Harrington for a podium place.

The O’Rourke sisters also make their Belgrade bow on Tuesday, with younger sibling Lisa facing Slovakia’s Jessica Triebelov in the 66kg quarter-final.

It is a welcome return to the ring for the Roscommon woman after a difficult couple of months, having been informed that her weight class would not be assessed for next month’s final World Olympic qualifier in Thailand.

The 2022 World champion had hoped to join big sister Aoife in Paris and, having seen Amy Broadhurst and Grainne Walsh both handed shots at qualifying, was hopeful of being given a crack.

However, the Irish coaches decided that Walsh – controversially defeated in her quota place showdown at March’s second World qualifier in Milan – merited selection for Bangkok, leaving Broadhurst and O’Rourke out of the Olympic picture.

Broadhurst refused to participate in an assessment to go to these Europeans, and become first reserve at 66kg, with the Dundalk woman now in the frame to represent Great Britain at the final World qualifier having been granted permission to change allegiance.

O’Rourke, however, is determined to make her mark in Belgrade, while she will also be supporting Aoife in her quarter-final on Tuesday afternoon.

The 26-year-old - set to join Harrington and Michaela Walsh as a two-time Olympian this summer - also received a bye to the last eight, where she faces the winner of the preliminary round bout between Hungary’s Veronika Nakota and Poland’s Oliwia Toborek.

Back between the ropes on Wednesday afternoon, meanwhile, are Paris-bound Dean Clancy and Galway featherweight Adam Hession.

Clancy meets Azerbaijan’s Malik Hasanov after the Sligo light-welter outclassed Abdul Fawaz Aborode in his opening bout on Sunday, taking a unanimous decision win.

Hession faces Russia’s Eduard Savvin, having already impressed on the way to victories over Georgia’s Giorgi Kapanadze and Belgium’s Vasile Usturoi.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for Mullaghbawn’s light-middle Eugene McKeever on Sunday as he came out on the wrong end of a 4-1 split decision against Azerbaijan’s Sharkan Ailyev.