Paddy Barnes, seven time Elite champion
It was a night of contrasting fortunes for Ireland’s four
London 2012 Olympians at the National Elite Finals at Dublin’s
Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan both won, but Adam Nolan,
the defending welterweight champion, and Darren O’Neill dropped
split decisions to Stephen Donnelly and Michael O’Reilly.
“Things went the way I wanted them to go. I’m only 20,
only starting – when I get to me prime, then you’ll see something,”
said O’Reilly after his win over O’Neill.
Barnes beat Hughie Myers, the defending champion, to nail
his 7th light-flyweight crown, and Conlan secured his four
successive belt at two-different weights at the expense of Tyrone
McCullagh in the bantamweight class.
Joe Ward made it four in-a-row in the light-heavy class.
The Moate BC southpaw beat his fellow leftie Matthew Tinker, the
durable St Francis BC fighter taking a standing count in the second.
David Oliver Joyce joined the high-five club after
dethroning defending champion Sean McComb in a fiery lightweight
final. Tonight’s win was Joyce’s fifth Elite final victory since
Chris Phelan, Ryston BC and Defence Forces, won his first
Elite belt at the fourth time of asking after earning a unanimous
decision over Adam Courtney at flyweight.
Dean Walsh, who has his dad, Donal, his uncle, Irish head
coach Billy Walsh, and Nicky Kane, working his corner tonight, beat
Michael Nevin to claim the vacant light-welter title.
Joe Ward (red) versus Matthew Tinker
At the end of pulsating three rounds, Walsh, who beat
Nevin in the 2013 U/22 final, was handed a unanimous decision.
Gary Sweeney made a spectacular start to his heavyweight
final with Steven Ward. The Olympic BC ace dropped the 2010
Commonwealth Games silver medallist in the first round with a
Ward showed his character to grind his way back into the
91kg clash after being felled, before Sweeney got the nod on a
split decision from a hard-punching three-rounder between two
totally committed boxers.
On the same day in 2011, Sweeney and Michael O’Reilly,
who beat Darren O’Neill tonight, won a silver medal each at the
IABA hosted European Youth Championships at the Citywest Hotel
in Hotel. Both were adjudged (harshly) to have lost to Russian
Tonight, both boxers are the new National Elite
middleweight and heavyweight champions – and both won on split
decisions for the Portlaoise BC and Olympic BC.
Meantime, on an evening of mixed emotions for Tipperary
boxing, Con Sheehan, who has never been beaten at the Irish Elite
Championships, beat his Clonmel BC team-mate Dean Gardener on a
unanimous decision to secure his 6th Irish Elite title in the final
bout of the night.
Stephen Donnelly of the All Saints BC in Ballymena
capped an excellent tournament, a tournament in which he beat
two Olympians, after scooping the Best Boxer Award. Seventy
eight athletes competed in the 2014 National Elite Men’s
Joe Ward was the only boxer
that didn’t surrender his title this evening.
“It’s good to get the fourth. Every win is sweet,
anytime you win a national championships it’s sweet,” said Ward.
Liam Walsh, father of Irish head coach Billy Walsh and
one of the great stalwarts of Irish boxing, received a sustained
standing ovation form a packed National Stadium when he stepped into
the ring to accept a presentation for his services to the
sport from IABA President Tommy Murphy tonight.