Darren O’Neill and Dean Walsh claimed a double for Ireland at the European Union Men’s Elite Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria today.
The Leinster duo emerged victorious over opponents from Poland and France.
O’Neill, a gold medal winner at the last European Union Championships in Denmark in 2009 who has moved up to light-heavy for Sofia, was in control for all three rounds against Jordan Kulinski en route to a comfortable unanimous decision.
The Kilkenny southpaw and London 2012 Olympian will now meet Nikolas Sekhniashvili of Georgia, who TKO’d Armend Xhoxhaj of Kosovo in the first round this afternoon, in the quarter-finals.
Walsh emerged with a split decision from a slug-fest with Malik Ladjali. The French light-welter was beaten in the semi-finals of the 2013 European Elite Championships in Minsk, Belarus by Dmitri Galagot of Moldova on a split decision.
Galagot, who Walsh will meet in the last-eight in Sofia next week, was decisioned in the European Elite final in Minsk by Russia’s Armen Zakaryan.
Ladjali and Walsh both found the target with solid shots throughout the three rounds today, but Walsh’s cleaner work, particularly in the second and third frames, was enough to earn a ticket into the last-eight.
The Wexford ace also clipped the AIBA World No. 16 ranked light-welter on the final bell with a left – just to be sure!
“Darren gave a fine performance and was in control of the bout. Dean had to dig deep against a European medallist to get his win and he did that. We’re happy to come away with two wins from two today,” said Irish head coach Billy Walsh.
Current Irish Elite champions David Oliver Joyce, also a gold medal winner at the 2009 European Union Championships, and Gary Sweeney will be in action tomorrow.
European Union Championships Sofia, Bulgaria
(Last 16 bouts unless stated, Irish times apply)
August 8th (1pm)
56kg Gary McKenna (Ireland) lost to Veaceslav Gojan (Moldova) 0-3
69kg John Joe Joyce (Ireland) beat Damian Kiwior (Poland) 3-0
August 9th (1pm)
64kg Dean Walsh (Ireland) beat Malik Ladjali (France) 2-1
81kg Darren O’Neill (Ireland) beat Jordan Kulinski (Poland) 3-0
60kg David Oliver Joyce (Ireland) v Mahmoud Khattab (Denmark)
91kg Gary Sweeney (Ireland) v Tadas Tamasavkas (Lithuania)
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) v Henrich Bagan (Slovakia)
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) v Kristiyan Stefanov (Bulgaria)
August 12th (Q/Final)
49kg Hughie Myers (Ireland) Oliver Simpson (England)
69kg John Joe Joyce (Ireland) v Simeon Chamov (Bulgaria)
75kg Darren O’Neill (Ireland) v Niklos Sekhniashvili (Georgia)
August 13th (Q/Final)
64kg Dean Walsh (Ireland) v Dmitri Galagot (Moldova)
49kg Hughie Myers (Ryston)
56kg Gary McKenna (Old School)
60kg David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy)
64kg Dean Walsh (St Joesphs/St Ibars)
69kg John Joe Joyce (St Michael’s Athy)
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise)
81kg Darren O’Neill (Paulstown)
91kg Gary Sweeney (Olympic)
91+kg Dean Gardiner (Clonmel)
Team manager: Paddy Osbourne
Coaches: Billy Walsh, Zuar Antia, Eddie Bolger
R&J: Sadie Duffy
Physio: Jullianne Ryan