25 April 2008 – by Bobby Lavery
Having taken my seat in a fairly central part of the Anderstown leisure centre (and hoping no one with a very large head was going to sit in front of me) I was pleased with my vantage point.
The nights boxing began with three youth bouts. with all six lads putting in fine performances.
The first senior into the ring was Beijing-bound Paddy Barnes. He lifted the Turkington Cup by way of walkover. By that time it was standing room only and the first two boxers were ready to enter the fray – Jamie Conlan (St John Bosco Belfast) and Ruairi Dalton (St Johns Belfast)
Dalton, at 17, must not be disappointed with this result. Yes, he was edged out 22-21 in this thrilling flyweight encounter, Conlans cleaner punches and, at times, faster hands keeping him in front throughout, but the teenager, for his terrific effort, won the most improved boxer of the championship and I feel we will be seeing plenty of this young man in the future.
Another top-class display of boxing came in the lightweight division between Anthony Cacace (Holy Trinity) and Stephen Donnelly (All Saints Ballymena).
This could just have been the hardest fight of the night to judge with both lads evenly matched in height and style.
Cacace seems to have perfected the art of leaning back and making his opponent miss before quickly getting in with a quick left-right. He used this tactic to good effect on several occasions.
Donnelly, for all that, pressed well and displayed a solid defence and a long left jab which did regularly tag Cacace.
When the 12-9 score was called out in favour of 19-year-old Cacace, Donnelly, 21, showed good sportsmanship in the manner in which he took the defeat and acknowledged the crowd for their support.
In what could have been billed the main event for obvious reasons, Shane McGuigan (Clones) and Cathal McCauley (Dungloe) locked horns in the welterweight division for the McGeough Cup.
All cameras were pointed in the direction of McGuigan’s corner as his coach (and father) is former world featherweight champion Barry.
Once things got underway it was southpaw McCauley who settled the better, picking McGuigan off with right hooks. They were very timid shots, though, and, as the end result showed, did not seem to register scores.
Indeed, McCauley somehow found himself down by four points at the end round one and this led the Dungloe man to change his style and press forward in round two.
He caught McGuigan with a cracking left uppercut but the Clones mans response was a straight right, knocking his opponent back onto the ropes and forcing him to retreat.
It was turning into be a hard-fought encounter for both men but McCauley, for my money, seemed to be edging it.
Rounds three and four were much the same, with McCauley finding himself behind and having to go and look for scores.
This suited McGuigan as he was the stronger of the two and found his right hand connecting well with his target.
However, McCauley felt he had done enough to be the Ulster champion and when the 26-13 scoreline was called in favour of McGugian, the crowd voiced their disapproval with a chorus of boos.
The boos were not directed at young McGuigan, of course, but at the judges and the outrageous score they had came up with.
Ryan Lindberg W Tyrone McCullagh 14-4 Bantamweight
Carl Framton W Eamon Finnegan 20 point rule Featherweight
Patrick Murphy W Patrick Gallagher 12-5 Light-welterweight
Eamon O’Kane W Martin Lynch 21-15 Middleweight
Tommy McCarthy W Paul Moffett RSC2 Light-heavyweight
Shane Curran W John Paul Reah Heavyweight
Cathal McMonagle Walkover Super-heavyweight.