Kenny Egan through to final against Joe Ward

A night of few surprises at the National Stadium where the evening’s proceedings included three women’s finals and nine men’s semi-finals in the ‘ Irish Daily Star’ sponsored Elite Senior Championships.

Highlights included Kenny Egan reaching a second successive light heavy final against Joe Ward and Callan’s Clare Grace scoring an emphatic 15-8 win against Patricia Roddy to take the women’s 69kg crown.

Men’s Semi-finals:

Joe Ward and Kenny Egan will come to blows again on Friday 3rd February when the Elite finals reach a conclusion at the same venue. As most fans of Irish boxing will recall Ward won a memorable bout when last the two met
And Egan will be keen to revenge the loss on that occasion which deprived him of a remarkable eleventh straight title.

Eamon Walsh was 17-4 behind when a facial injury forced him to retire in round two and indeed Egan had forced Walsh to take two standing counts by then, one in each round.
Ward though will be favourite to emerge again as champion after Friday’s battle of the two southpaws but the form shown by Egan in winning the “London Prepares” Olympic test event and in these championships to date suggests another close battle is in store and a good reason why boxing fans should flock to the National Stadium on Friday.

Ryston’s Chris Phelan had a most convincing 26-13 victory over Holy Trinity’s Ruairi Dalton in their 52kg clash and in the process became the second Ryston boxer to reach the finals.
Phelan was leading 6-5 after round one but from there on in Dalton hard though he tried was never in the picture as some slick counter punching from Phelan saw him chalk up a 17-8 second round advantage on his way to a 26-13 winning margin. the second and open up a 17-8 advantage.

Michael McDonagh will be hoping to gain a second successive 60 kg lightweight crown when he meets David Oliver Joyce again in this year’s final. Last night the all St Michael’s Athy clash between Joyce and Eric Donovan was tied at 3-3 at end of round one.
Joyce though went ahead in round two as he took the initiative to lead 11-7 lead and went on to take the third 5-4 and an overall 16-11 winning margin.

“I am not looking past McDonagh. He beat me last year. Back to the club for the week and learn how to fight this lad. He is a different style of boxer but I’ll worry about that on Monday,” said Joyce following his last night’s success.
Portlaoise’s Michael Nevin qualified for the 56kg final by virtue of a 15:10 win over Glenn Murray (Corinthians) and now faces cousin John Joe Nevin (Cavan) in the finals.

Martin Wall, had caused the sensation of the tournament so far when he defeated Ray Moylette in the preliminaries but the Dubliner took a count in round three last night against Stephen Coughlan, reached the 64Kg final with a 16-11 margin of success and deservedly so.
St Michael’s Athy have in fact three boxers through to next Friday’s finals since Christy Joyce gained an 11:5 win over Patrick Corcoran and 2008 Beijing Olympian John Joe Joyce overcame Roy Sheahan in the second all-St Michael’s Athy duel .

Conor Coyle of St Joseph’s had three points in hand over Holy Family’s, Michael Reilly in their semi-final bout at 75kg.
In the evening’s final bout, Sean Turner fresh from his W.S.B experiences won a 20-12 decision against David Joyce thus ensuring a place in Friday’s final against Clonmel’s Con Sheehan.

Women’s finals:

Three finals were won – and lost – in the ring . Ceire Smith opened proceedings as the Cavan BC member of the Irish team in Barbados 2010 forcer her Dublin opponent Emma Duffy to retire in round one having taken both a standing count and suffering a shoulder injury.
In winning her second Irish senior title, Ceire once more showed that she is ‘one for the future’ albeit in a weigh division that also boasts the up and coming Geesala teenager Katie Rowland.

The all Mayo clash between Castlebar’s Michelle Chambers and Michelle Lynch from the Golden Gloves club was as expected, a tough encounter though Lynch was always in control and held a 9-3 commanding lead entering the final round and eventually taking the coveted title on a 12:3 score line. Chambers also took a standing count in round two here.

It was back in the autumn of 2010 that Callan’s Clare Grace first came to the attention of Irish boxing fans when she took a bronze medal in the European Youth and juniors championships in Calais – Sangatte. On Saturday she claimed the claimed her Irish Senior welterweight title and greatly impressing with a 15-8 points decision over Patricia Roddy from the Bray BC, a more experienced fighter . Grace is one of a number of highly promising women boxers who will serve Ireland well in the future IF and only IF, the IABA can provide proper funding that will allow them to regularly take part in club tournaments outside of Ireland.

General thoughts:-

There is no substitute for experience against international opposition outside one’s home country and the women’s group in question also includes Michelle Lynch, Carla Wright,Sarah Close, Laoise Traynor,Michaela Walsh, Niamh Ball, Lauragh O’Neill, Dervla Duffy, Christine Gargan and Katie Rowland.
Women’s boxing needs to be better promoted in Ireland, in the Media and by the IABA and the clubs, more especially those in rural areas, need to have funds made available ,difficult times though we may live in. The IABA needs to say quite clearly through statements to the media and on their own website EXACTLY what their plans are for the promotion of the women’s sport in Ireland .

Back in July 2011, a one-off grant of €1.25 million to improve facilities at boxing clubs, and in particular to provide accommodation for female boxers, was announced by Michael Ring, the Minister of State for Tourism & Sport.
That special allocation is being administered by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA).

At the time he said : “This special allocation is a fitting gesture to mark the centenary of the IABA and recognises that boxing is by far Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport,”
“It also acknowledges the fact that many boxing clubs operate in facilities which are in poor condition and lack basic facilities. This special allocation is an important step in helping to ensure that young people will be able to train in decent facilities which are fit for purpose.”

It may well be that some or all of this funding has already been well spent on providing and/or improving facilities – but if so then the IABA should be saying so loud and clear. Silence is not (always) Golden ! Sadly women’s boxing receives little attention in the mainstream Irish media and then only when Katie Taylor returns to Dublin Airport with another Gold medal.

Let us hope too that Friday’s National Elite Finals (and last night’s women’s finals) will be posted on “You Tube” AND included later on – after all Boxing IS Ireland’s most successful National sport . The media AND the IABA need to do more, much much more,
and work more closely together for the benefit of all. And next year too let there be at least four and preferably more duly qualified entrants for all of the women’s boxing divisions.

The 2012 Elite National Senior Championships finals will be held on Friday, February 3rd at the National Stadium.

Weekend Results:-
Saturday January 28th

51Kg: Ceire Smith (Cavan) beat Emma Duffy (Crumlin) RET1
54Kg: Michelle Lynch (Golden Gloves) beat Michelle Chambers (Castlebar) 12-3
60Kg: Carla Wright (Gleann) W/O
64Kg: Sarah Close (Holy Family GG) W/O
69Kg: Claire Grace (Callan) beat Patricia Roddy (Bray) 14-8
75Kg: Sinead Kavanagh (Drimnagh) W/O
81Kg: Lauragh O’Neill (Paulstown) W/O

Men’s S/Finals
52Kg: Chris Phelan (Ryston) beat Ruairi Dalton (Holy Trinity) 26-13
56Kg: Michael Nevin (Portlaoise) beat Glenn Murray (Corinthians) 15-10
60Kg: David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy) beat Eric Donovan (St Michael’s Athy) 16-11
64Kg: Stephen Coughlan (Bray) beat Martin Wall (Crumlin) 16-11
69Kg: John Joe Joyce (St Michael’s Athy) beat Roy Sheahan (St Michael’s Athy) 15-9
75Kg: Conor Coyle (St Joseph’s) beat Michael Reilly (Holy Family) 12-9
81Kg: Ken Egan (Neilstown) beat Eamon Walsh (St Annes) RSCI2
91Kg: Christy Joyce (St Michael’s Athy) beat Patrick Corcoran (Crumlin) 11-5
91+Kg: Sean Turner (Drimnagh) beat David Joyce (Moate) 20-12

Friday January 27th S/Finals
49Kg: Hugh Myres (Ryston) beat Evan Metcalfe (Crumlin) 23-15
52Kg: Michael Conlan (St John Bosco) beat Shane Roche (Corinthians) 28-12
56Kg: John Joe Nevin (Cavan) beat Sean McComb (Holy Trinity) 13-12
60Kg: Michael McDonagh (St Marys) beat Tyrone McCullagh (Holy Family GG) 11-5
64Kg: Ross Hickey (Grangecon) beat Niall Murray (Gorey) 15-12
69Kg: Adam Nolan (Bray) beat Willie McLaughlin (Illies GG) 17-12
75Kg: Darren O’Neill (Paulstown) beat Conrad Cummings (Holy Trinity) 13-10
81Kg: Joe Ward (Moate) beat David Joe Joyce (Ballinacargy) 17-4
91Kg: Tommy McCarthy (Oliver Plunkett) beat Stephen Ward (Monkstown) 16-11
91+Kg: Con Sheehan (Clonmel) beat Ken Okungbowa (Moate) 17-8


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