2019 National Elite Senior Championships – FULL PREVIEW


The National Elite Senior Championships begin tomorrow night in Dublin.

Over the next three weekends, 20 champions will be crowned at the National Stadium ahead of a major year for the sport with the European Games, European Championships, and World Championships all on the agenda.

With Tokyo on the horizon, there has been a massive entry to the tournament, the biggest in years and Irish-Boxing.com go through each division below.

Women’s Light Flyweight – 48kg
A wide-open division, there has been plenty of good close fights amongst the field over the past few months. Courtney Daly (Crumlin) has won the Intermediate and Under-22 titles, beating Emma Feeney (Virginia Cavan) and Ciara Walsh (Smithfield) respectively. Up in Ulster, Chloe Fleck (Lisburn) claimed the provincial title with a thrilling win over former Elite champ Donna Barr (Illies GG). Then there is Carol Coughlan (Monkstown Dublin), runner-up here last year and a rapidly-improving and physically-imposing fighter.

Men’s Light Flyweight – 49kg
Under-22 champion last month, runner-up in the 2016 Elites, and now a beast at the weight, Regan Buckley (St Teresa’s) is the front runner here. Joining the Bray boxer is recent Ulsters runner-up Rory Baird (Ederney) and young gun Sean Mari (Monsktown Dublin) who is stepping up to the adult ranks following a distinguished underage career.

Women’s Flyweight – 51kg
Last year’s runner-up Niamh Earley (Ryston) had looked set to receive a walkover but has been joined by Commonwealth silver medallist Carly McNaul (Holy Trinity). The pair have both been beaten by Céire Smith but both also defeated the talented Caitlin Fryers last month so it promises to be competitive. Two physical fighters, their showdown could be a war.

Men’s Flyweight – 52kg
A very intriguing weight. Evan Metcalfe (Hyland BA) won at bantamweight last year and looks to be stepping down where he will meet two people stepping up. Light flyweight runner-up Ricky Nesbitt (Holy Family D) feels reinvigorated at a new weight with a new team while 18-year-old Adam Hession (Monivea) has been mightily impressive in winning the Intermediate and Under-22 titles. Hession and Nesbitt, too, shared an exhibition in Belfast just last month and will be more than familiar with each other.

Women’s Bantamweight – 54kg
Emma Flannery (Baldoyle) is the only entry in this division.

Women’s Featherweight – 57kg
European bronze and Commonwealth silver medallist Michaela Walsh (Monkstown Antrim) is, of course, the woman to beat here. The Belfast Olympic hopeful defeated Dervla Duffy (Crumlin) in last year’s final and she is joined at the weight by the Monaghan veteran again here. There are new faces too, with decorated underage star Mary Geraghty (St Anthony’s Dublin) making the step up while Isobella Hughes (Mount Tallant) makes a move down in weight following a number of runner-up finishes at lightweight.

Men’s Featherweight – 57kg
A wide-open class, Paddy Adamus (Drimnagh) makes the move down in weight and should be a force if the cut does not take too much out of him. Myles Casey and nephew Tommy Casey (both St Francis’s) will always be there or there abouts while Christian Cekiso (Portlaoise) is becoming increasingly highly-rated. Rounding off the weight is Dublin veteran Adam Courtney (St Mary’s Tallaght) and recent Intermediates runner-up Conor Kerr (Monkstown Antrim).

Women’s Lightweight – 60kg
World champion Kelly Harrington (St Mary’s Tallaght) is the only entry in this division.

Men’s Lightweight – 60kg
A straight final in a division which has lost its place on the Olympic roster. David Oliver Joyce (Ballymun), nephew of the Olympian, was extremely impressive in claiming the Under-22 title last month while Commonwealth Youth Games team captain Dominic Bradley (Errigal) was defeated in the Ulster final by Barry McReynolds.

Men’s Light Welterweight – 63kg
An absolutely packed division, with a number of fighters stepping up from lightweight to chase their Olympic dreams. These include reigning 60kg champ George Bates (St Mary’s Tallaght) and Commonwealth bronze medallist James McGivern (St George’s). These should provide stiff competition to reigning champ Wayne Kelly (Portlaoise) but the talent doesn’t stop there. Senan Kelly (Crumlin) won the Intermediate crown back in November while Pierce O’Leary (Docklands) blasted his way to the Under-22 title last month with wins over Shane Flavin (Paulstown), Michael Avetisian (Swords), and Matthew McCole (Dungloe) – all of whom also enter. Then there is the always-tricky Dylan Duffy (Pegasus), last season’s Under-22 and Intermediate champ Kenneth Doyle (Monkstown Dublin), heavy-hitting former underage star Terry McEntee (Old School), experienced Belfast puncher Gerard Matthews (St Paul’s), another talented underage fighter in Craig Kavanagh (Crumlin), and Army brawler Stephen Lockhart (Baldoyle).

Women’s Light Welterweight – 64kg
World Championships 64kg quarter-finalist and European U22 60kg champ Amy Broadhurst (Dealgan) has started 2019 with a bang, retaining her Irish 60kg U22 title before defeating Russia’s 2016 European 64kg champion Alexandra Ordina. Chasing Broadhurst in this competition will be former Elite featherweight champ Moira McElligott (St Michael’s Athy), Intermediate and U22 champ Shauna O’Callaghan (Clann Naofa), and Chelsey Orr (Ards).

Women’s Welterweight – 69kg
One of the busiest weights for the women, EU bronze medallist and Best Boxer last time out Grainne Walsh (Sparticus) will be looking to defend her crown but faces a lot of competition. European bronze medallist Christina Desmond (Fr Horgan’s) returns from long-term injury and steps down in weight where she could be an even more potent force. Then there is Cheyanne O’Neill (Athlone) who has impressed since stepping up in weight. Intermediate champ Clodagh Greene (Crumlin) was dismayed when she was edged out in the U22 final last month and will be looking for a big few results here while Gillian Duffy (St Mary’s Tallaght) and Tina Donnelly (Dublin Docklands) were both beaten by Walsh in the 2017 edition and will want revenge.

Men’s Welterweight – 69kg
A clash between reigning champion and Best Boxer Kieran Molloy (Oughterard) and top prospect Paddy Donovan (OLOL) has been talked about for some time now but the welterweight division goes far beyond this. European bronze medallist Dean Walsh (St Joseph’s/St Ibarr’s) is determined to get back on top having been defeated by Molloy in the semis last year while beaten finalist Eugene McKeever (Holy Family D) has improved massively over the last 12 months and claimed the Ulster title last month. Beyond this there is even more, with Aaron Daly (Castlebar) who gave Donovan some trouble in the U22 final last month, strong former Intermediate champ Conor Ivors (St Francis’s), the very experienced Fergal Redmond (Arklow), Michael Kinsella (St Anthony’s/Pats) who scored some good results in 2018, and Dubs Luke Maguire (Esker) and Michael McGrane (Crumlin).

Women’s Middleweight – 75kg
It looks set to be a straight final between European U22 silver medallist Aoife O’Rourke (Castlerea) and 2017 light heavyweight champ Leona Houlihan (Crumlin), two tall big-punchers, it could be an explosive fight.

Men’s Middleweight – 75kg
Another packed, quality-filled division. Michael Nevin (Portlaoise) is the reigning champion but he has a real job ahead of him to retain his title. Brett McGinty (Oakleaf) knocked Nevin down in last year’s final but he was beaten himself in the Ulsters decider last month by the relentless Fearghus Quinn (Camlough) who will be a player here. Then there is Gabriel Dossen (Olympic), a Tokyo tip for many, who will be making his Seniors debut. The Galway star was given a tough enough fight by John Joe Nevin (Crumlin) last month in the Under 22s and they could meet again here while Gerard French (Emerald, Antrim) has the ability to knock anyone out with his left hook. 2017 champ Emmett Brennan (Glasnevin) makes his return having missed the last championships through injury and will want to have a big say while Kelyn Cassidy (Saviours Crystal) has developed into a smart cagey fighter that will give a tough night to anyone. Tony McGlynn (Crumlin) steps back up to middle and can be a handful while, last but not least, African Games silver medallist Glory Carlos L’Muala (Maynooth) is back in the Seniors having made his pro debut in France last April.

Women’s Light Heavyweight – 80kg
Heavyweight runner-up last year, Lisa Browne (Aglish) is set to claim the title on a walkover

Women’s Heavyweight – +80kg
Limerick’s Nell Fox (Rathkeale) is primed to retain her title on a walkover

Men’s Light Heavyweight – 81kg
Irish Team Captain Joe Ward (Sparticus) has perhaps more competition here than many anticipated. The triple European gold medallist missed last year’s edition due to the WSB but is back here amongst a fresh-looking field. Paul McCullagh (St John Bosco) showed some devastating power in the Ulsters while Tommy Hyde (Mayfield) has impressed since stepping up to adult level, winning the Haringey and the Intermediates. Brawler Robbie Burke (Glasnevin) can be a handful while Thomas O’Toole (Celtic Eagles) and David Biscevas (St Saviour’s) are both stepping up from middleweight.

UPDATE: It has since been reported that Joe Ward has been forced to pull out due to an elbow injury.

Men’s Heavyweight – 91kg
An extremely exciting weight division where a lot of the competitors have traded wins over the years. Dubliner Kirill Afanasev (Smithfield) is the reigning champ but has a number of big men on his heels. Last year’s runner-up Kevin Sheehy (St Francis’s) is older, wiser, and stronger while Kenneth Okungbowa (Athlone) believes this will, finally, be his year. Big Dee Sullivan (Emerald) was edged out in the 2017 super heavy semis by eventual winner Martin Keenan and the Commonwealth Games participant is extremely strong at 91. Tony Browne (St Michael’s Dublin) has stepped up from light heavy and underlined his credentials with a win over Dutch star Peter Mullenburg while, similarly, Karol Długosz (Scorpion) announced his arrival to the weight with a win at the Ulsters last month. Army men Danny O’Brien (Santry/DCU) and Geoff Kavanagh (St Michael’s Dublin) are both back following periods away and are dangerous propositions while Liam Green (South Meath) pushed Sheehy close in the semis last year.

Men’s Super Heavyweight – +91kg
Finally we have the giants and ‘Breakfast’ Dean Gardiner is the name that will stand out to many. In increasingly better shape, the big man has a lot of competition. Martin Keenan (Rathkeale) will be aiming to regain the title while two-time runner-up Thomas Carty (Crumlin) will be confident he can go one better following a big 2018 which ended with him going five rounds with Italian legend Clemente Russo. Galway’s Gytis Lisinskas (Celtic Eagles) only fully committed to boxing last year but has overcome everyone in his path and enters here as an unbeaten fighter – however, he was pushed hard in the Intermediates final by Dean Scullion (Loughshore) who is a real handful. An underage medallist, James Clarke (Crumlin) has stepped back up to super heavy and is joined by Seniors regulars John McDonnell (Crumlin) and Antoine ‘Toto’ Ó Griofa (Celtic Eagles). Denis Borskins (Sacred Heart N) enters for the first time since 2014 while there is a familiar name in Tommy Sheahan (St Michael’s) who also returns after five years – and a full TWENTY-ONE years after his first entry.

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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]