London 2012 Olympians Darren O’Neill and Adam Nolan forced their opponents into standing counts in the second round to help Ireland to a 9-3 victory over the French Elite side amid a terrific atmosphere at a well-attended National Stadium tonight.
Hughie Myers, Dean Walsh, Elite debutant Brendan Irvine, Kurt Walker, Fearghus Quinn, Sean McComb and George Bates also won in Dublin.
Nolan, looking sharp and fit, obliged Daouda Sangare to take a count off a flashing left, and O’Neill, who moved up to heavyweight tonight, wobbled Djibril Coupe with a left over the top in the first and detonated a superb left in the second.
Myers claimed a unanimous decision over Anthony Chapat. The durable French light-fly took three big rights in the opening frame, the third of which earned Myers a spontaneous applause.
And Irvine, who was making his Elite debut, impressed en route to a unanimous decision over Jean-Michel Braganza at the home of Irish boxing.
The visitors pulled one back via Anthony Brett at the expense of Garry McKenna, two of the judges opting for Brett’s aggression over McKenna’s skills after three, three minute rounds.
However, Walker restored Ireland’s two-bout cushion against Samuel Kistohurry, who had a good second, until Walker went back to working from body to head in the third.
“He was game, I beat him before in the World (Youth) Championships a few years ago by four points. He’s a tough opponent,” admitted the Ulster bantamweight.
McComb edged out Maxime Devignaud on a split decision after three tight frames in the lightweight class.
And Dean Walsh ensured that Ireland couldn’t be beaten after winning a slug-fest with European Elite bronze medallist Abdel Malik Ladjali. Walsh’s win fired Ireland 6-3 ahead in the 12-bout international to ensure that the best the the visitors could hope for was a draw.
George Bates, however, buried any hopes the French were entertaining about salvaging a stalemate with a fine performance against Sofiane Oumiha in another edge-of-the-seat split.
Ross Hickey bounced back after taking a count in the first to dominate the second again French light-welter Hassan Amzile, but the third stanza was close to call in a hard-hitting 64kg duel.
Adam Courtney dropped a unanimous decisions to tricky southpaw Marcus Gevia.
Irish head coach Billy Walsh had predicted that it was going to be tight against this talented French side, and Ireland’s Chief Seconds was proved to be correct with five of tonight’s bouts going either way on split decisions after being in the balance right up to the final bell.
Willie O’Donoghue, a former AIBA World Junior champion, gave a fine account of himself in an exhibition match with Elie Konki.
The French fly showed the skills that earned him an EU silver medal in Bulgaria this year, but O’Donoghue, when he went to work on the inside, found the target with regularity against the three-time French Elite champion.
Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan had to sit out tonight’s international because of a stomach bug and a hand injury. But the London 2012 bronze medallists posed with numerous young fans for photographs and signed countless autographs to contribute to a top class international as Irish boxing approaches the end of the year which marks the 75th anniversary of the opening of the National Stadium in 1939.