Classic Irish Boxing: 2007 National Seniors Report
February 3rd, 2007 – by Tomás Rohan
54Kg: Ryan Lindberg (Immaculata) V Kevin Joseph Fennessey (Clonmel)
This was always going to be a close one and so it proved with Lindberg claiming his first Irish senior title by a single point.
Fennessy will be left ruing a public warning in the fourth and final round that ultimately handed the Belfast teenager the title.
Lindberg made a fast start but the more accurate work came from Fennessy and this was reflected in the 4 – 2 advantage to the Clonmel man at the end of the opener.Lindberg clawed back a further point going into the third while Fennessy had already been warned by referee Jim Murren for use of the shoulder.
Going into the final round Fennessy maintained a single point advantage but the turning point arrived midway through the last when Murren finally lost patience with the Tipp teenager and signalled the public warning that would prove so decisive.
At the final bell the score was 19 – 18 for Lindberg and the Ulster man was understandably delighted. “It’s unbelievable, this has been my dream since I was a child. I was a bit nervous and I didn’t start well but I knew going into the final round that I had to work and I wasn’t going to leave it behind me. I just hope I get picked for the World Championships now later in the year.”
69Kg: Roy Sheahan (St. Michaels, Athy) V David Joyce (St. Michaels, Athy)
This was a repeat of last year’s decider and once again it was the same result. The first of two all Athy battles on finals night never really caught fire with Sheahan jabbing his way to a very comfortable 12 points to 5 win.
IABA President and Athy head coach couldn’t bear to watch his two charges face off so veteran Belfast trainer Gerry Storey manned Sheahan’s corner while Arklow’s Jim Moore looked after Joyce.
Sheahan was carrying an injury to his right hand which will require an operation in the coming weeks but you would never have known from the Kildare man’s performance.After his win Sheahan revealed the reasons behind his stick and move battle plan. “I watched the tape of last years final and decided to keep with my jab instead of mixing it. I just wanted to get in and out without getting caught with David’s flurries.”
Sheahan admitted that facing his own club mate wasn’t easy, “It’s very difficult training in the same club all week. We’re still friends and we know each other inside out so it’s very hard.”With domestic matters out of the way Sheahan has just one thing on his mind. “Last year in the worlds I was beaten in the last 16 on a countback by the eventual silver medallist. The target this year if to go at last one step further by getting to the last eight and qualify for the Olympics.”
81Kg: Ken Egan (Neilstown) V Willie Mitchell (Dromore)
Ken Egan didn’t have to wait long for his seventh straight Irish Senior title with an opening round win over Willie Mitchell.
It was predictable enough with Egan staying on track for Olympic qualification by passing the very first hurdle with a stoppage win inside a minute.
“I’d give everything I’ve ever won to get a place on the plane to Bejing so that’s the goal,” said the Neilstwon southpaw. “I want about 15 internationals behind me before I head for the world championships in Moscow, that’s the main thing for me now this year.
60Kg: Special Contest – Katie Taylor (Ireland) V Eva Walstrom (Finland)
Two time European and World champion Katie Taylor got a rousing reception from the National Stadium crowd on her return to the South Circular Road venue following her exploits in 2006.The frenzied atmosphere certainly seemed to throw Walstrom as the Finnish visitor struggled to get into the fight in the opening stanza.
Five points up going into the second the Bray girl doubled her lead picking off Walstrom as she attempted to get close to the local favourite.Taylor rounded out the contest in style extending her lead still further in the final round to run out a comfortable 20 points to 4 winner against a game but outgunned Walstrom.Taylor now hopes to complete a hat trick of European titles this year. “I’ve the European championships in October so that’s the one I’ll be aiming for and hopefully I can retain my title. It was great to come back home as a world champion and box in front of my home crowd especially on the night of the Senior finals.”
75Kg: Darren Sutherland (St. Saviours OBA) V Eamon O’Kane (Immaculata)
Darren Sutherland arrived back with a bang on the amateur scene stopping Derry’s Eamon O’ Kane in 3 rounds.
Sutherland endured a miserable second half to 2006 after a serious eye injury threatened his boxing career. However after a semi final win over Edward Healy the Sports science student from Blanchardstown continued his comeback with an impressive won over O’ Kane.
The Belfast based O’ Kane started off well trying to outhustle the defending champion. Sutherland’s extra strength became increasingly apparent though and a left to the body early in the third took all the remaining steam out of the Ulster champion.Two further counts followed before the referee finally called a halt to the bout.
A clearly delighted and emotional Sutherland was delighted with the triumph. “Six months ago it didn’t look like I was ever going to box again. I’m so happy to be back because I only got the all clear in October.
“Last week I went all guns blazing because I was getting rid of all the frustration built up in the time out of the ring. I knew I couldn’t fight like that against Eamon and throw caution to the wind so I changed my style and worked.”
57Kg: Eric Donovan (St. Michaels, Athy) V David Oliver Joyce (St. Michaels, Athy)
This one was billed as a potential fight of the night and it didn’t disappoint. Once again Jim Moore (Donovan) and Gerry Storey (Joyce) were left to work the Athy men’s corners with Dominic O’ Rourke again stepping aside from coaching duties.
Donovan was favourite and he started off well picking off his clubmate with a stiff southpaw jab but Joyce began to warm to the battle as the round progressed.Joyce got off to a much better start in the second working his way inside Donovan’s jab to launch fast, two fisted attacks.
Going into the third Joyce was in control by 12 points to 8 and while Donvan began to fade last years 54kg champ just seemed to get stronger and stronger.
The flu had disrupted Donovan’s preparations for last weeks semi final win over Willie Casey and the 22-year-old Athy boxer was on antibiotics right up until the day of that fight.It all caught up with him against Joyce in the third and fourth rounds as his team mate extended his lead to eventually run out an overwhelming 30 – 13 winner.The two friends embraced at the final whistle with Donovan seemingly resigned to his fate. High Performance head coach Billy Walsh admitted his surprise at the outcome. “I’ve seen them spar in the gym countless times and Eric has never lost a spar so it’s a great result for
David.”Joyce picked up his second Irish senior title and at only 18 he remains a terrific prospect. However the feeling remains that with his high pressure, bustling style he might be more suited to the pro game than the computer scoring oriented amateur code.Speaking after the win Joyce said, “My plan was to mess up Eric’s pace and get stuck in and it worked. Some people wondered about me moving up in weight but I’ve proved I’m strong enough to be at 57kg. I’ve put a lot of training and sacrifices into this but it’s paid off.”Donovan was gracious in defeat and full of praise for his conqueror. “The flu is no excuse, the worst of it was gone but that was a phenomenal performance from David. It’s a pity the two of us had to fight at the same weight but congratulations to him. He was the better man on the night but I’ll bounce back again.”
91Kg: Ian Tims (St. Matthews) V John Sweeney (Dungloe)
Ian Tims experience proved crucial as he took a points win over John Sweeney to claim the heavyweight title for 2007. Sweeney in his first senior final looked a little nervous early on as Tims forced the early pace.
The Donegal man began to warm to the task in the second round and got stronger as the session progressed cutting the Dubliner’s early lead to a single point.Tims (with Bernard Dunne’s dad Brendan) in his corner extended that lead back to two points at the end of the third but a public warning in the final session appeared to left the outcome in the balance.
At the bell both men felt they had won and there looked to be nothing between the two of them. However Tims had been the more prolific on the computer in the last round to run out a 14 – 9 winner.Afterwards Tims was full of praise for his opponent. “He was tough as nails and he’s only 21 so he’ll be around for a long time. I didn’t think it would be as hard as it was. It was tough but glad to win all the same.
With 2006 champion Alan Reynlods ringside and suggesting a comeback Tims said he’d be happy to accommodate him. “We’ll have a go again, it’s 1- 1 between us at the moment but it would be great to see him back. We need boxers like Alan around.”
For now though Tims wants to concentrate on securing some international success. “I have a lot of experience and I’ve beaten some good lads over the years. I’m going to train with the High Performance team more this year and get my head down and try and get some good wins.”
60Kg: John Joe Joyce (St. Michaels, Athy) V Ciaran Bates (St. Marys Dublin)
John Joe Joyce put on a clinical display of boxing to secure his second Irish Senior title. Just like his cousin David Oliver Joyce the Athy boxer is still a teenager but he boxes with a maturity beyond his 19 years.
Bates tried his best but he simply couldn’t deal with Joyce’s speed, accuracy and sheer class. Joyce launches that long right hand to the body in the same way that a fencer might go on the attack with their sword.He stepped it up as fight went on picking off Bates with clean, classy punches and moving through the gears and his repertoire to run out a clear 29 – 12 points winner.Afterward Joyce was refusing to get carried away. “I boxed alright but I’d a bit of an upset stomach and Ciaran boxed well but I was happy enough just to win.”
48Kg: Jimmy Moore (St. Francis) V Paddy Barnes (Holy Family)
Jimmy Moore’s reign as Irish light flyweight champion came to an end in a repeat of last years final with Paddy Barnes. The Belfast fighter had felt aggrieved to have lost out on points this year and he determined to make amends in 2007 boxing his way to a relatively clear-cut 19 -3 win.After a scrappy opening Barnes pulled away over the second half of the fight to seal a comfortable win.”I was training hard all year for this fight in particular,” said a delighted Barnes. “I knew what I had to do to win it and I went out there and did that.”
51Kg: Conor Ahern (Baldoyle) V Shane Cox (Gorey)
Conor Ahern retained his Irish flyweight title but only after a major scare from Wexford’s Shane Cox. The Gorey youngster pushed Ahern all the way in a terrific scrap that eventually ended in a 16 – 15 win for the Baldoyle man.It was seven points a piece after two rounds but a right hand from Ahern floored Cox in the third and things looked to be turning his way. However a public warning for Ahern shortly afterwards allowed Cox to close the gap and set up a thrilling final round.Ultimately it was Ahern who emerged victorious but Cox certainly made an impression in his Seniors debut.
64Kg: Aodh Carlyle (Golden Cobra) V Thomas Dwyer (St. Aidans)
Aodh Carlyle picked up his second Irish title after a scrappy affair with Wexford man Thomas Dwyer that never really caught fire.
91Kg+: Anthony Crampton (St. Broughans) V Cathal McMonagle (Holy Trinity)
Anthony Crampton surrendered his super heavyweight title when a late surge from Belfast’s Cathal McMonagle in the last round saw the Holy Trinity man claim a points victory.