2018 National Elite Seniors – PREVIEW

It’s that time of year again – the National Elite Senior Championships.

Amateur boxing will take over the National Stadium in Dublin for the next three weekends as dozens of Irish boxers battle it out for the highest prize in the land

The first of two Elite Seniors scheduled for 2018 – to allow for Olympic qualifiers next year – this month’s edition provides a field that will ensure plenty of first-time winners.

With Commonwealth Games, European U22s, and just a general desire to wait until the second championships in November, the men’s tournament is missing a number of big names – although the women’s field includes almost a full compliment of talent.

Regardless, there is plenty of fresh talent coming through and it promises to be an exciting and dramatic few weeks at the home of Irish boxing.

Read Irish-Boxing.com’s preview of each and every weight category below:

Men’s Light Flyweight – 49kg
A straight final, last year’s semi-finalist Conor Jordan (St Aidan’s) – who was edged out by eventual winner Blaine Dobbins – takes on former Novice champion and reigning Ulster champ Ricky Nesbitt (Carrickmacross).

Men’s Flyweight – 52kg
Ulster runner-up Conor Quinn (Clonard) is the only entrant this year and has received a walkover.

Men’s Bantamweight – 56kg
A wide-open weight, 2015 champ Myles Casey (St Francis) has received a bye into the semis will be looking to claim a second title, but will face stiff competition from his rapidly-improving nephew and clubmate Tommy Casey who faces Christian Cekiso (Portlaoise) in the quarters. Evan Metcalfe (HBA) is a new fighter having linked up with the Hyland Brothers in Tallaght and starts off against the experienced Adam Courtney (St Mary’s). Finally, Eamon McNally (St Michael’s Antrim) will be looking to add to the Ulster title he won in November but has to contend with last year’s 52kg runner-up Tommy McCarthy (Setanta) in the quarter-finals.

Men’s Lightweight – 60kg
A Cinderella Story last time out, Pat Mongan (Olympic) is back to defend his title and starts off against last year’s U22 champ Dylan Duffy (Pegasus), Runner-up last time and Seniors regular George Bates (St Mary’s) will be hoping this is his year and faces Kilkenny youngster Shane Flavin (Paulstown) on Friday. Commonwealth bronze medalist Sean Duffy (Holy Trinity) remains down at lightweight and is set for a war with former underage star and 2016 Intermediate champ Frankie Cleary in the quarters. Then there is another young gun, Adam Kelly (Portlaoise) who starts off in a midlands derby with Yannick Meseke (Leo’s)

Men’s Light Welterweight – 64kg
Runner-up last year, the talented Wayne Kelly (Portlaoise) is being tipped by many. He fights in the sole quarter-final on Friday against Matthew McCole (Dungloe), runner-up at both the U22’s and Intermediates in recent months. The winner will face last year’s U22 champion Keith Flavin (Paulstown). In the other semi, Ulster’s runner-up – and runner-up to Flavin in last year’s U22’s – Caoimhin Ferguson (Clonard) is one of the most improved fighters in Ireland and squares off against Colm Quinn (Castlebar) to start.

Men’s Welterweight – 69kg
Champion Dean Walsh (St Joseph’s/St Ibarr’s) is continuing his adjustment to the heavier weight and has received a bye to the semis where he will face the winner of the bout between Feargal Redmond (Arklow) and the phenomenally talented Seniors debutant Kieran Molloy (Oughterard). The other quarters pit the experienced Eugene McKeever (Holy Family Drogheda), winner of the 2016 Intermediates at 64kg, against Michael Hennessy (St Monica’s) – son of promoter Mick – and another 2016 Inters winner, Tony McGlynn (Crumlin), against David Barrett (Rylane).

Men’s Middleweight – 75kg
Former underage star Michael Nevin (Portlaoise) makes his long-awaited Irish Elite Senior Championships debut. The medal machine faces the experienced David Biscevas (St Saviours) in the quarters. The corresponding quarter-final matches last year’s U22 69kg champ John Maughan (St Mary’s) against Belfast’s Gerard French (Clonard). Last year’s welterweight runner-up Brett McGinty (Oakleaf) has also stepped up and boxes Glory Carlos Imuala (Maynooth), with the victor facing the winner of the bout between last year’s U22 champion Kelyn Cassidy (Saviours Crystal) and Peter Carr (Crumlin), whom McGinty defeated in a war in last year’s semi final.

Men’s Light Heavyweight – 81kg
Karol Blugosz (Scorpion) has received a bye to the semis, as has Caoimhin Agyarko Hynes (Holy Trinity) who is stepping up in weight. They will, respectively, face the winners of Brian Kennedy (St Mary’s Daingean) v Robert Burke (Glasnevin) and Tony Browne (St Michael’s) v David Tsotsoria (Illies GG). Browne, runner-up last year, and Kennedy, runner-up last month at the U22s, have something of a rivalry following their meeting in the 2016 U22s – which were won overall by the Offaly man.

Men’s Heavyweight – 91kg
The lone quarter-final looks to be the fight of the night on Friday, with U22 and Intermediate champion Kevin Sheehy (St Francis) taking on last year’s runner-up Kenny Okungbowa (Athlone). The winner will face Liam Greene (South Meath) in the semis. The other semi-final sees Dublin-Russian Kirill Afanasev (Smithfield) take on veteran Ulsters runner-up Jason Barron (Holy Trinity).

Men’s Super Heavyweight – +91kg
Plenty of big men have entered. Last year’s winner Martin Keenan (Rathkeale) kicks off against Dubliner Geoffrey Kavanagh (Glasnevin) who has stepped up in weight for this tournament following a period out of the ring. The corresponding quarter sees John McDonnell (Crumlin) face Intermediate champion Antoine Griffin (Celtic Eagles). On the other side of the draw, Patrick Nevin (St Michael’s) is in with veteran Romanian Constantin Popovicu (Crumlin), while last year’s runner-up Thomas Carty (Glasnevin) boxes former champion Dean Gardiner (Clonmel) in a repeat of the 2016 final.

Women’s Light Flyweight – 48kg
Last year’s runner-up Shannon Sweeney (St Anne’s) – who has improved immensely over the past 12 months – boxes in the semi-finals against recent Intermediates runner-up Courtney Daly (Crumlin). In the other semi, 2016 Intermediate champion Carol Coughlan (Monkstown) fights 2017 Intermediate champion Megan Doyle (Whitechurch)

Women’s Flyweight – 51kg
A straight final, Niamh Earley (Ryston) will look to make it three Irish titles in three months having claimed the Intermediate and Under-22 crowns recently. The World Junior silver medalist will face veteran Ceire Smith (Virginia) who, after a period spent in Australia, returned with a bang in November when she decisively beat reigning Irish champion Carly McNaul in the Ulster final.

Women’s Bantamweight – 54kg
A straight final, two-time champion at 48kg, Lauren Hogan (St Brigid’s Edenderry) makes the step up and faces the experienced Amanda Loughlin (St Michael’s)

Women’s Featherweight – 57kg
Reigning champ Dervla Duffy (Mulhuddart) fights in the semi-finals against Ailish McCullough (Albert Foundry) – not the first fighting McCullough to come out of the Shankill Road gym! EU bantamweight gold medalist Michaela Walsh (Monkstown) returns to feather ahead of the Commonwealth Games and faces Tiegan Russell (Fr Horgan’s) who was beaten by Duffy in last year’s semis.

Women’s Lightweight – 60kg
Another straight final, reigning champ and World and EU silver medalist Kelly Harrington (St Michael’s) goes up against underage star and recent U22 champ Amy Broadhurst (Dealgan)

Women’s Light Welterweight – 64kg
Joanne Lambe (Carrickmacross) is the only entrant and has received a walkover.

Women’s Welterweight – 69kg
A comparatively healthy weight with five entrants, Connie Vaughan (Dulhallow) and U22 runner-up Ciara Sheehy (Ardnaree) do battle in the sole quarter-final. The winner here will face reigning champ and EU bronze medalist Gráinne Walsh (Sparticus) in the semis. The corresponding fixture sees Youth Olympic silver medalist and champion at 64kg last time out Ciara Ginty (Geesala) face last year’s runner-up Gillian Duffy (Bray)

Women’s Middleweight – 75kg
European bronze medalist Christina Desmond (Fr Horgan’s) gets a fight this year and will face young star Aoife Burke (St Mary’s), with the rangey Dubliner stepping up to Elite level.

Women’s Light Heavyweight – 81kg
Winner of the Intermediate 69kg and U22 75kg titles in recent months, Aoife O’Rourke (Castlerea) has received a walkover.

Women’s Heavyweight – +81kg
For the first time in years, we have a women’s heavyweight final with Lisa Browne taking on the rangey Nell Fox (Rathkeale) a twelve time champion at underage and Intermediate level.

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: [email protected]