Michael Conlan, Dean Walsh and Joe Ward assured Irish boxing of at least three bronze medals after recording last-eight wins at the European Elite Championships in Samokov, Bulgaria today.
But Adam Nolan bowed out of the tournament this afternoon after losing out on a unanimous decision to Belarusian welter Pavel Kastramin – 29-28,29-28,29-28.
Ward completed the hat-trick on a unanimous decision – 30-27, 29-28,29-28 – verdict over Mikhail Dauhaliavets, also of Belarus, who like Conlan and Nolan, competed at the London Olympics.
The 2011 European Elite champion and 2013 AIBA World Elite bronze medallist will now meet Croatia’s No. 1 seed Hrvoje Sep in the light-heavy semi-final on Friday.
Earlier today, Walsh became the first boxer from Wexford to win a European Elite medal after beating Hungarian light-welter Nyeki Georgian on a unanimous 30,27 30-27,29-28 verdict.
London 2012 bronze medallist Conlan, a silver medal winner at the 2013 European Elite Championships, got Ireland off to a winning start over Denmark’s Frederik Jensen – 30-27,30-27,30-27.
Conlan, Walsh and Ward have now qualified outright for October’s World Elite Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Doha, Qatar, although Conlan has already secured an Olympic quota place through the World Series of Boxing.
Adam Nolan will also qualify for Doha if Kastramin reaches Saturday’s 69kg final, as the top six boxers in Samokov – the semi-finalists and quarter-finalists who lose to the eventual fnalists – qualify for the World Championships.
Thursday is a rest day at the European Championships. The semi-finals and finals will be decided on Friday and Saturday.
As things stand, Ireland has six boxers – Conlan, Walsh, Ward, Michael O’Reilly, Brendan Irvine and Sean McComb qualified for Doha. Nolan, who was unlucky to go out today, could be a seventh.
O’Reilly, Irvine and McComb qualified for Doha, courtesy of winning gold, silver and bronze at the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan in June.