Contrast in fortunes for London Olympians in exciting National Finals

By IABA Press Officer Bernard O’Neill

IT was a night of contrasting fortunes for Ireland’s four London 2012 Olympians at the National Elite Finals at Dublin’s National Stadium.

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 2005.

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.

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 big right.
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 opponents.

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 Championships.

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.

 

National Elite Championships 2014 National Stadium Dublin

Men’s Finals March 7th

49kg Paddy Barnes (Holy Family) beat Hughie Myers (Ryston) 3-0

56kg Michael Conlan (St John Bosco) beat Tyrone McCullagh (Holy Family) 3-0

60kg David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy) beat Sean McComb (Holy Trinity) 2-1

69kg Stephen Donnelly (All Saints) beat Adam Nolan (Bray) 2-1

75kg Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise) beat Darren O’Neill (Paulstown) 2-1

81kg Joe Ward (Moate) beat Matthew Tinker (St Francis) 3-0

52kg Chirs Phelan (Ryston/Defence Forces) beat Aadm Courtney (St Marys) 3-0

64kg Dean Walsh (St Josephs/St Ibars) beat Michael Nevin (Portlaoise) 3-0

91kg Gary Sweeney (Olympic) beat Steven Ward (Monkstown, Antrim) 2-1

91+kg Con Sheehan (Clonmel) beat Dean Gardiner (Clonmel) 3-0

Best Boxer: Stephen Donnelly (All Saints, Ballymena)

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