By IABA Press Officer Bernard O’Neill
The 2014 National Elite Championships finals will be decided at the National Stadium in Dublin on Friday night.
The Holy Family BC, Portlaoise BC and Ryston BC clubs have two representatives each in Friday finals. Six titles are vacant.
The finals will be contested over three, three minute rounds under the AIBA 10-point must scoring system.
Michael Conlan (2), Paddy Barnes (3) and Joe Ward (9) (click on names) are ranked in the top ten in the World going into Friday’s finals in the updated AIBA rankings for March.
The running order for Friday’s finals, which will be broadcast live in TG4, will be confirmed shortly.
The women’s Elite finals will be decided on Saturday, March 8th.
2014 National Elite Finals National Stadium Dublin, March 7th
49kg – Light-flyweight – Hughie Myers (Ryston BC, Kildare) v Paddy Barnes (Holy Family, Belfast)
Both boxers recorded solid semi-finals wins over Thomas Waites and Blaine Dobbins last weekend to set up a rematch of the 2012 final, which Banes won by a four-point margin under the old computer scoring system. Barnes missed the 2013 Championships because of the flu and Myers won the title, his first Elite belt. Barnes, who is currently ranked No. 3 in the world at flyweight (52kg) – he moved up to this weight class for the AIBA World Elite Championships in Kazakhstan last year, but has since dropped back down – admitted that he underestimated Myers in the 2012 final.
52kg – Flyweight – Adam Courtney (St Mary’s BC, Dublin) v Chris Phelan (Ryston BC/Defence Forces)
Chris Phelan has been knocking on the door for the last three years. The Ryston/Defence Forces fighter reached the last three flyweight finals. He was beaten by Michael Conlan on all three occasions. Phelan meets experienced Dublin flyweight Adam Courtney on Friday. Both boxers have represented Ireland at international level. Courtney reached the National U/22 final last year where was beaten by Antrim’s Brendan Irvine.
(The flyweight title is vacant as defending champion Michael Conlan moved up to bantamweight)
56kg – Bantamweight – Michael Conlan (St John Bosco BC, Belfast) v Tyrone McCullagh (Holy Family BC, Belfast)
Conlan, who is ranked No.2 in the World by AIBA, will be aiming for his fourth successive Elite title in two different weight classes – he’s won three at flyweight. McCullagh is no stranger to leaving the National Stadium with an Elite belt adorning his waist either. The 2010 European Elite bronze medallist won the featherweight belt (57kg) in 2010.- featherweight has since been dropped as a weight class for men by AIBA. Conlan won bronze at the 2012 Olympics and silver at the 2013 European Elite Championships in Minsk, Belarus.
(The bantamweight title is vacant as defending champion Declan Geraghty moved up to lightweight)
60kg – Lightweight – Sean McComb (Holy Trinity BC, Belfast) v David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy BC, Kildare)
McComb, the defending champion, came through a tough test against Declan Geraghty in the preliminaries. The Holy Trinity BC ace reached the last 16 of the AIBA World Elite Championships in Kazakhstan last year, the year in which he won his first Elite title. David Oliver Joyce, a former European Union champion, will be targeting his fifth Elite belt on Friday night. A seasoned international, Joyce has beaten ex World champion Domenico Valentino (Italy) twice in the past. Joyce won four titles on-the-trot between 2005 and 2008 and will be appearing in his eight Elite final.
64kg – Light-welterweight – Michael Nevin (Portlaoise BC) v Dean Walsh (St Josephs/St Ibars BC, Wexford)
Nevin, who was beaten in the 2012 bantamweight final by London 2012 silver medallist John Joe Nevin, came through a war of attrition with 2011 European Elite champion Ray Moylette last weekend. At the end of three fiery rounds the judges split 2-1 in favour of the Portlaoise BC stand out at the expense of the 2008 World Youth champion. Dean Walsh also booked his ticket into the final on a split decision (over Waterford’s Rohan Date). Walsh will have his dad Donal, and uncle, Irish head coach Billy Walsh, working his corner on Friday night.
(The light-welterweight title is vacant as defending champion Ross Hickey withdrew with an arm injury).
69kg – Welterweight – Adam Nolan (Bray BC, Wicklow) v Stephen Donnelly (All Saints BC, Belfast)
Adam “The Guard” Nolan is nine minutes away from nailing his four successive Elite title. The London 2012 Olympian beat Willie McLaughlin in the 2013 final and also scooped the Best Boxer Award. Wexford-born Nolan, who works as a Gardai in Bray, lined out for Ireland at the AIBA World Elite Championships last year. Donnelly was in excellent form at the recent Ulster Elite Championships. He beat Beijing 2008 Olympian and ex Irish Elite champion John Joe Joyce – who Nolan beat by a two-point margin in the 2012 final – on a split decision in the semi-finals last weekend.
75kg – Middleweight – Darren O’Neill (Paulstown BC, Kilkenny) v Stephen O’Reilly (Portlaoise BC)
O’Neill will be appearing in his eight – he’s won four, lost two to Ken Egan and one to Darren Sutherland – Elite final versus Michael O’Reilly. O’Neill, who captained the Irish squad at London 2012, won silver at the European Elite Championships at the Ice Palace in Moscow. O’Neill was beaten by eventual champion Jason Quigley on a count back following a tie in the last-eight of the Elite Championships in 2013. O’Reilly won silver – the only reason it wasn’t gold was because of the convoluted scoring system which somehow conspired to hand Russia’s Igor Kharitonov victory from a fight he lost – at the IABA hosted 2011 European Youth Championships at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin.
(The middleweight title is vacant as defending champion Jason Quigley did not enter).
81kg – Light-heavyweight – Joe Ward (Moate BC, Westmeath) v Matthew Tinker (St Francis BC, Limerick)
Ward, the defending champion, will be aiming for his fourth successive Elite light-heavyweight belt before his 21st birthday. The 2010 AIBA World Youth and 2011 European Elite champion claimed bronze at the 2013 AIBA World Elite Championships in Kazakhstan to help Ireland finish in joint 6th spot with Brazil and Uzbekistan in the medals table at the 100-nation tournament. Tinker, who hails from Scarborough in the UK , is appearing in his first Elite Championships. He recorded a solid win over Donlan Ward in the semi-finals last weekend. Joe Ward received a bye into Friday’s decider after Sean McGlinchey withdrew with the flu. Ward beat Kenneth Egan in the last three light-heavyweight finals.
91kg – Heavyweight – Gary Sweeney (Olympic BC, Galway) v Stephen Ward (Monsktown, Antrim)
Sweeney and Ward will go head-to-head for the vacant heavyweight belt. Sweeney won silver for Ireland at the 2011 European Youth Championships after being edged out by Russia’s Vladimir Korsunov in the light-heavyweight final at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin. The Galway ace beat Bernard O’Reilly on a unanimous decision last weekend, while Ward beat Limerick’s Krys Sikora (St Francis BC), also on a unanimous decision. Ward settled silver for Northern Ireland at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi after he had to retire injured in the first round versus England’s Simon Vallily in the heavyweight final.
(The heavyweight title is vacant as defending champion Tommy McCarthy has turned professional)
91kg+ – Super-heavyweight – Con Sheehan (Clonmel BC, Tipperary) v Dean Gardiner (Clonmel,BC Tipperary)
The only prediction that five-time Elite champion Con Sheehan would make before this final is that he won’t make any predictions. Sheehan described the decider as an historic occasion for the Clonmel BC. Sheehan would have been aiming for his sixth successive title last year, but the former EU champion had to withdraw injured and Dubliner Sean Turner claimed the super-heavy crown. Both Sheehan and Gardiner advanced to Friday’s all Tipperary showdown on split decisions over Niall Kennedy and Joe Joyce last weekend. Sheehan beat Gardiner on a unanimous decision in an Elite Competition at the National Stadium last year.
(The super heavyweight title is vacant as defending champion Sean Turner has turned professional)