The 2019 Ulster Elite Championships drew to a close with a bumper finals night at the historic Ulster Hall where 1- finals were decided and 13 new champions crowned.
It was a smaller field than the last edition, which had Commonwealth Games places on the line, but there was still plenty of quality on show, with underage stars making the big step up along with a smattering of major medallists and internationals.
Chloe Fleck, runner-up last time out, kicked off the night’s action by going one better at light flyweight. The relentless Canal youngster outworked the classy Donna Barr, forcing a count in the final round which looked to prove decisive as she took a 3-2 split-decision win.
The slugfests continued with the men’s light fly decider as rangy Belfast boxer Jack O’Neill edged gutsy Fermanagh fighter Rory Baird on another 3-2 split following a topsy-turvy bout that had the theatre in raptures.
Carly McNaul had claimed a sensational silver medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year and the power-puncher looked to impose her strength on young Caitlin Fryers at flyweight. A fantastic clash of styles, former underage star Fryers landed some quality uppercuts and overhands but McNaul was just too strong and grinded the Immaculata teenager down to claim a unanimous decision win.
John Paul Hale showed his power in the opening round of the featherweight final, an early contender for Fight of the Year. The Star star decked Colm Murphy heavily and continued to land heavy rights throughout. Murphy, though, showed tremenduos spirit to hang in and fight back and had Hale badly hurt in the third but his Belfast rival had done enough already to take a 4-1 split win. The pair will meet again next Friday in the Irish U22 bantamweight final in what promises to be another epic contest.
In a cagey lightweight final, the better-timed right hands from Barry McReynolds earned him a unanimous decision win over Commonwealth Youth Games team captain Dominic Bradley.
Stepping up to light welter in line with the new Olympic weight classes, James McGivern looked as classy as ever. The Commonwealth bronze medallist outboxed old friend Dylan Duffy to claim his second Ulster title on a 4-1 split-decison.
Eugene McKeever scored an incredible first-round KO in the welterweight final. Having forced a count early on, the Holy Family Drogheda puncher sent Tiernan Duffy down with a right hand – the Clonard man being put out standing up and falling to the canvas hard. Duffy was eventually brought to his feet and, thankfully, seemed to be feeling no ill-effects from the finish.
In what was being billed as fight of the night, Camlough’s Fearghus Quinn outlasted Brett McGinty to claim the middleweight title, going one better than last time. Quinn finished extremely strong to ensure a 4-1 split triumph.
There was another sensational first round knockout in the light heavyweight final, Paul McCullagh steamrolling Noel Donnelly inside a round. The Belfast youngster looks to be a huge puncher and would dedicate the victory to his legendary late grandfather, also named Paul, who passed away recently.
Closing the show, Scorpion’s Karol Dlugosz outslugged Michael Erpelding to take the heavyweight crown on a 3-2 split decision.
19th January 2019
2019 Ulster Elite Championships
48kg Chloe Fleck (Canal) beat Donna Barr (Illies GG) 3-2
49kg Jack O’Neill (Corpus Christi) beat Rory Baird (Ederney) 3-2
51kg Carly McNaul (Holy Family GG) beat Caitlin Fryers (Immaculata) 5-0
52kg Ricky Nesbitt (Holy Family Drogheda) W/O [fought Adam Hession in exhibition]
54kg No Entries
57kg John Paul Hale (Star) beat Colm Murphy (St George’s) 4-1
57kg No Entries
60kg Barry Mc Reynolds (Holy Trinity) beat Dominic Bradley (Errigal) 5-0
60kg No Entries
63kg James McGivern (St George’s) beat Dylan Duffy (Pegasus) 4-1
64kg No Entries
69kg Eugene Mc Keever (Holy Family Drogheda) beat Tiernan Duffy (Clonard) KO1
69kg No Entries
75kg Fergus Quinn (Carnlough) beat Brett McGinty (Oakleaf) 4-1
75kg Caroline Connelly (Mourne GG) W/O
81kg Paul McCullagh (St John Bosco Belfast) beat Noel Donnelly (Holy Family Drogheda) KO1
81kg No Entries
81kg No Entries
91kg Karol Dlugosz (Scorpion) beat Michael Erpelding (Holy Family GG) 3-2
91+kg Stephen McMonagle (Holy Trinity) W/O [fought Dean Scullion in exhibition]