2017 Ulster Elite Senior Championships – FINALS PREVIEW


Tomorrow night boxing makes its return to the famous Ulster Hall in Belfast.

The Ulster Elite Senior Championships are back at their rightful home for the first time this decade and there is a real excitement in the air ahead of finals night.

The glamour has been restored to the night, which will be streamed live via the BBC website, and this year’s competition attracted big entries.

Following preliminary rounds last week in the Dockers Club, we are now set for 10 deciders which could have a huge impact on the participants’ careers.

While not the sole means of making a judgement, results tomorrow night will factor heavily into selection for the Northern Irish team for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia next April.

Below Irish-Boxing.com takes a look through all the weights, how the fighters have fared thus far, and what to look out for in the atmospheric venue.

Men’s Light Flyweight – 49kg
2013 Irish Novice champion Ricky Nesbitt (Carrickmacross) has received a walkover following the withdrawal of reigning Irish Elite champion Blaine Dobbins. Nesbitt will now box Jason McKay in an exhibition.

Men’s Flyweight – 52kg
Rio Olympian Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s) has gotten a bye straight into the final and will face Conor Quinn (Clonard). The former underage star scored a notable win in the semis over Jason McKay, but Irvine will be a hot favourite here.

Men’s Bantamweight – 56kg
Another straight final, highly-rated reigning champion Eamonn McNally (St Michael’s) will face Conor Kerr (Glengormley). A curious weight, the absence of Kurt Walker due to injury means that the incentive of the Commonwealth Games is not as immediate, with tomorrow’s winner most likely having to box-off with the European bronze medalist.

Men’s Lightweight – 60kg
Following three years out, 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Sean Duffy (Holy Trinity) has returned at 60kg and has looked sensational thus far. The experienced fighter has already beaten the in-form Gerard Matthews and dropped and defeated Stevie McKenna. In the final he will face the mercurially talented youngster James McGivern (St George’s) in the semis. The 2015 Commonwealth Youth gold medalist is looking for another gold medal in Australia and is unbeaten for over a year. After receiving a bye to the semis he edged Dylan Duffy, and this match up with another Duffy could be one of the fights of the night.

Men’s Light Welterweight – 64kg
Irish Elite champion Sean McComb (Holy Trinity) is back on the Ulster scene and cruised into the final with a win over Matthew McCole. The European Games bronze medalist will face the young and hungry Irish U22 runner up Caoimhin Ferguson (Gleann) in the decider. Ferguson, a sparring partner for top pro Paul Hyland Jr, has scored two wins so far over Intermediate runner-up Vinny Esler and Mozambique’s 2014 Commonwealth Games participant Bernaldo Marime.

Men’s Welterweight – 69kg
A top class final between two medalist from the 2015 Commonwealth Youths. Gold medalist at 64kg Aidan Walsh (Monkstown) has looked sensational in defeating Ross Boyle and Gerard French, showing speed and agility. On the other side of the ring there is the strong and powerful Brett McGinty (Oakleaf) who claimed 69kg silver at the Youths in 2015. The Derry-Donegal man, a runner-up in this year’s Irish Seniors, received a bye to the semis where he defeated Nathan Watson

Men’s Middleweight – 75kg
Reigning champion Fearghus Quinn (Carnlough is in the final again after a win over Conor Doherty in the semis, and will be looking to make a breakthrough to elite international competitions following some bad luck and close calls in recent years. He faces a big test though against 2014 Commonwealth bronze medalist and Rio Olympian Steven Donnelly (All Saints), who has moved up in weight for these championships. The Ballymena fighter claimed a big win over Caoimhin Agyarko Hynes in the semis to announce his arrival on the middleweight scene.

Men’s Light Heavyweight – 81kg
Conor Wallace (Holy Family Drogheda) has been handed a walkover after finals opponent Karol Dlugosz (Scorpion) was forced to pull out injured. Wallace will box in an exhibition versus John Joyce on the night.

Men’s Heavyweight – 91kg
In the best shape of his career, Dee Sullivan (Emerald) is in form and looking to stamp his authority on the division. Down from super heavy, where he won the Ulsters last time out, Sullivan is looking to kick on and scored a good win over Stephen Lawrence in the semis. He is faced however by wiley veteran Jason Barron (Holy Trinity), who beat Charlie Boyle in the semis, and who is going for his fourth Ulster title – and a Commonwealth Games place after being overlooked last time.

Men’s Super Heavyweight – +91kg
Denis Borskins (Sacred Heart Newry) has withdrawn from the final, crowning Joe Joyce (Erne) champion. Joyce defeated Stephen McMonagle (Holy Trinity) in the semis, and this fight will take place again tomorrow as an exhibition.

Women’s Light Flyweight – 48kg
A straight final, Irish Elite champion Kristina O’Hara (St John Bosco) will be hot favourite to add an Ulster title to her locker. The West Belfast wrecking machine has dominated all her fights on home soil since moving down in weight and a huge task awaits Irish U22 runner up Chloe Fleck (Canal).

Women’s Flyweight – 51kg
In what has ended up a straight final following Donna Barr’s withdrawal, Irish Elite champion Carly McNaul. takes on veteran Ceire Smith (Cavan) in a very intriguing puncher v boxer fight.

Women’s Bantamweight – 54kg
No boxers have entered at this weight.

Women’s Featherweight – 57kg
EU 54kg gold and Commonwealth 51kg silver medalist Michaela Walsh (Monkstown) has received a walkover

Women’s Lightweight – 60kg
2014 Commonwealth bronze medalist Alanna Nihell (Eastside/British Army) has received a walkover

Women’s Light Welterweight – 64kg
No boxers have entered at this weight.

Women’s Welterweight – 69kg
No boxers have entered at this weight.

Women’s Middleweight – 75kg
Sarah Close (Holy Trinity) has received a walkover.

Women’s Light Heavyweight – 81kg
Irish Elite runner up Caroline Connolly has received a walkover.

Women’s Heavyweight – +81kg
No boxers have entered at this weight.

Irish-Boxing.com would like to wish the best of luck to each and every boxer in the finals tomorrow.

dpg

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie