Team Ireland head east tomorrow morning ahead of the opening bell for the European Elite Men’s Championships in Bulgaria.
The 41st edition of the tournament since 1925 begins in Samokov on Friday.
The seven-strong Irish panel will be aiming to build on the podium finishes of Cork’s Kieran Joyce and Dublin’s Ken Egan at the last two European Championships hosted in the eastern European nation this month.
Both boxers, who have 15 Irish Elite titles between them, were beaten by Russian opponents – Petr Galkin and Artur Beterbiyev – and eventual gold medallist in the last-four.
Billy Walsh also lined out for Ireland in Varna in 1983.
Walsh, Ireland’s head coach, admitted that it’s a quick turnaround since the inaugural 2015 European Games, which ended in Baku, Azerbaijan just 39 days ago, but that the squad were firmly focused on securing more places for October’s World Men’s Championships in Doha, Qatar which is a qualifier for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The top six boxers in each weight class (the semi-finalists and quarter-finalists that lose to the eventual finalists) in Samokov this month qualify for Qatar.
Michael O’Reilly, Brendan Irvine and Seam McComb has already qualified for Qatar, courtesy of winning gold, silver and bronze at the European Games in June.
London 2012 Olympian Darren O’Neill, a silver medallist at the 2010 European Elite Championships in Moscow, will captain Team Ireland at the 41st European Elite Men’s Championships.
European Elite Men’s Championships August 6th/15th
52kg Myles Casey (St Francis)
56kg Michael Conlan (Clonard ABC)
64kg Dean Walsh (St Joesphs/St Ibars)
69kg Adam Nolan (Bray)
81kg Joe Ward (APB)
91kg Darren O’Neill (Paulstown)
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Clonmel)
Team Manager: Peter O’Donnell
Coaches: Billy Walsh, Zauri Antia and Eddie Bolger
Physiotherapist: Julianne Ryan
Sports Psychologist: Gerry Hussey
Performance Analyst: Alan Swanton
Cuts Man: Dr John Haughey