Classic Irish Boxing: McDonagh pushes O’Kane all the way
After an impressive run to the final of the all-Irish middleweight Prizefighter, JJ McDonagh can rest easy in the knowledge that he gave a good overall account of himself and the 26-year-old will now look to push on to bigger things.
“I feel disappointed, but I feel good at the same time – I know I gave it a good go,” admitted McDonagh after the bout. “I have the height of respect for Eamonn O’Kane and all the boxers involved; there were no easy fights in there for anybody.”
It was a rough-and-tumble final and JJ tried –with varying degrees of success- to use his rangy southpaw lead jab and slick skills to keep O’Kane at bay. The rugged Dungiven competitor O’Kane repeatedly dived head first in to range and hands and arms frequently became locked together, prompting several warnings from referee Terry O’Connor. Eventually after the pair had swapped low blows, McDonagh was penalised a point and the fight was mathematically pushed beyond his reach.
“Fair play to Eamonn, he won and he probably even deserved to win, but all I know is that I didn’t hit him with a low blow, but the referee kept warning me the whole time and he never warned Eamonn,” lamented the Mullingar man. “I didn’t throw a low blow but if the ref thought I did then it was a complete accident. I never grabbed a hold of his head and dragged him down either; his head was tucked in under me so what was I to do – lift him up or something? I’m not blaming Eamonn – he probably would have beaten me anyway – but I don’t think the referee gave me a chance.”
BUI president Mel Christle confirmed post-fight that McDonagh had actually damaged his hand in the opening round clash with Darren Cruise, so his ascension to the final was even more impressive.
“Both my hands were troubling me,” confirmed JJ, “even before the tournament started and maybe I shouldn’t have even been in the competition. But the money was there so I went through with it and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse. Eamonn O’Kane beat me fair and square and I wish him all the best for the future.
“There’s another fight out there for us. I’d love to get him again, maybe over eight rounds.”