2020 National Elite Championships – FULL PREVIEW

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While the release of the FULL DRAW yesterday led to a lot of questions and controversy, we still have an Elite Senior Championships to take place.

While it is no longer nearly as crucial as once believed in terms of Olympic prospects, over 70 boxers will still weigh in and there will be plenty of good fights over the next week.

Some big names still remain not to mention some top young fighters coming through along with plenty of familiar faces.

Boxing begins at the National Stadium in Dublin tomorrow [Friday 15th November] with further nights of action on Saturday, Monday, Wednesday, and the big finals night next Friday [November 22nd].

Fighters from around the island have entered in all 20 weights – 13 Olympic and seven non-Olympic – with 17 classes set to be contested.

Below Irish-Boxing.com goes through the entire field.

Women’s Light Flyweight – 48kg
Non-Olympic Weight
Having missed the tournament in February, 2018 champion Shannon Sweeney (St Anne’s) is back from Canada looking to reclaim her crown from Chloe Fleck (Canal) but there is plenty more beyond this. Under-22 champ Courtney Daly (Crumlin) is confident of a breakthrough while Carol Coughlan (Monkstown) has come close in the past. Then there are the young guns, with Ciara Walsh (Smithfield) and triple European underage medallist, and many people’s favourite to win, Daina Moorehouse (Enniskerry).

Men’s Light Flyweight – 49kg
Non-Olympic Weight
Both runners-up previously, Sean Mari (Monkstown) and Ricky Nesbitt (Holy Family Drogheda) have met twice recently – with one win apiece – and could have their biggest fight yet next week. Looking to upset the applecart is 2018 Intermediate champ Diarmuid Toland (Holy Family GG).

Women’s Flyweight – 51kg
Olympic Weight
Having performed well at the Worlds earlier this year, Céire Smith (Virginia) will be looking to rubberstamp her status as Ireland’s top fly having missed the Elites in February. Reigning champ and Commonwealth silver medallist Carly McNaul (Holy Family GG) is hungry to avenge an Ulster final loss to Smith. Then there are rising former underage World Championships medallists Niamh Early (Ryston) and Caitlin Fryers (Immaculata) who have defeats to McNaul fresh in their memories, while Cork’s Nycole Hayes (Togher) is looking to make a breakthrough herself.

Men’s Flyweight – 52kg
Olympic Weight
Highly-tipped reigning champion Adam Hession (Monivea) is not happy having been overlooked for the two major tournaments earlier this year and will want to underline his status. Stepping up to 52kg, light fly champ Regan Buckley (St Teresa’s) was chosen to go to the Worlds in October and is improving exponentially. Slipping in perhaps under the radar having skipped the Intermediates is World Youth bronze and European Youth silver medallist Jude Gallagher (Two Castles) and the Tyrone teen is joined by Inters winner Sean Kavanagh (Monkstown) and Ulster light fly champ Jack O’Neill (Corpus Christi).

Women’s Bantamweight – 54kg
Non-Olympic Weight
One of the sparser classes, the last two Intermediate champions, Zara Breslin (Tramore) and Shauna Blaney (Navan), are both aiming to make an Elite breakthrough. Top Canadian Sarah Haghighat-Joo (St Brigid’s Edenderry) is also in the draw following her move across the link.

Women’s Featherweight – 57kg
Olympic Weight
The hugely decorated Michaela Walsh (Monkstown Antrim) is the obvious woman to beat as she goes for her eighth Elite title. Emma Agnew (Dealgan) has power, especially down at featherweight, while World Junior bronze medallist Kelsey Leonard (Curragh) will be looking for a Senior breakthrough having lost out in the Intermediate final last week. Additionally, coming in as a late entry, Youth Olympic bronze medallist Dearbhla Rooney (Sean McDermott’s) makes the step up into the adult ranks.

Men’s Featherweight – 57kg
Olympic Weight
Reigning champ Paddy Adamus (Drimnagh) is a late entry while double underage European silver medallist Dean Clancy (Sean McDermott’s) has bags of confidence. Belfast’s JP Hale (Star) and Colm Murphy (St George’s) could meet in the final in what would be yet another epic fight between the pair. Beyond this, there is Tommy Casey (St Francis’s) and recent runner-up Christian Cekiso (Portlaoise), both with plenty of experience at this level, and 2018 Intermediate champ Sean Purcell (Enniskerry) as well as Belfast boys Conor Kerr (Monkstown Antrim) and Kane Marshall (Emerald).

Women’s Lightweight – 60kg
Olympic Weight
European bronze medallist Amy Broadhurst (Dealgan) will win the title on a walkover following the withdrawal of Kelly Harrington (St Mary’s).

Men’s Lightweight – 60kg
Non-Olympic Weight
A division waiting for someone to grab by the scruff of the neck. Former flyweight champ and bantamweight runner-up Myles Casey (St Francis’s) has moved up again while Brandon McCarthy (St Michael’s Athy) comes in off the back of a win in the Intermediates last week. Ulster champ Barry McReynolds (Holy Trinity) could make a National Elite breakthrough with Crumlin duo Paul Alexander and Killian Geraghty also featuring.

Men’s Light Welterweight – 63kg
Olympic Weight
2018 champion Wayne Kelly (Portlaoise) seeks to regain his crown with 2019 runner-up George Bates (St Mary’s) chasing hard. Intermediate champions Kenneth Doyle (Monkstown) and Michael Avetisian (Mulhuddart) are both maturing well while Gerard Matthews (St Paul’s) is always there or thereabouts. Yannick Meseke (Olympic) rounds out the field.

Women’s Light Welterweight – 64kg
Non-Olympic Weight
Fresh from an Intermediate final KO win, Euro Youth silver medallist Evelyn Igharo (Clann Naofa) enters the Elite ranks while Youth Olympic silver medallist Ciara Ginty (Geesala) returns having missed the tournament earlier this year. Facing them will be two boxers moving down from welter, 2018 Intermediate champ Clodagh Greene (Crumlin) and 2017 Elite runner-up Gillian Duffy (St Mary’s).

Women’s Welterweight – 69kg
Olympic Weight
With a spot at the Olympic qualifiers on the line, we look set for a rematch between EU and Euro Games bronze medallist Gráinne Walsh (Sparticus) and European bronze medallist and reigning champion Christina Desmond (Fr Horgan’s). Aiming to cause an upset is Cheyanne O’Neill (Athlone), back at her natural weight following a brief visit to middleweight.

Men’s Welterweight – 69kg
Olympic Weight
Now probably the best weight in the championships, EU bronze medallist Kieran Molloy (Oughterard) defends his crown but faces stiff competition from Commonwealth silver winner Aidan Walsh (Monkstown Antrim) while 2018 runner-up and Ulster champ Eugene McKeever (Holy Family Drogheda) is aiming to go one better. Stepping up in weight and into the adult ranks is European Junior champ Callum Walsh (Riverstown) while European Youth bronze medallist Terry McEntee (DCU) is another climbing to welter. A packed division, veteran Fergal Redmond (Arklow) enters for an amazing 20th time and is also joined by Michael Bustard (Dockers), Michael Kinsella (St Anthony’s/Pat’s), Luke Maguire (Esker), and Ryan O’Rourke (St Michael’s Dublin).

Women’s Middleweight – 75kg
Olympic Weight
European champion Aoife O’Rourke (Castlerea) is the only name entered and will claim the title should she weigh in.

Men’s Middleweight – 75kg
Olympic Weight
Wide open, Ulster champ Fearghus Quinn and Inters winner Jason Harty (Rathkeale) are perhaps the front runners although, dropping from light heavy, Kelyn Cassidy (Saviours Crystal) will have something to say about that. 2015 African Games silver medallist Glory Carlos L’Muala (Maynooth) is also back having reached the quarter-finals of the latest African Games in Morocco in August. On top of this then there is Crumlin pair John Joe Nevin and Jack Brady.

Women’s Light Heavyweight – 80kg
Non-Olympic Weight
In a busier division than ever, Leona Houlihan (Crumlin) is aiming for a third Elite title – although many felt that Lisa Browne (Aglish) should have been given the nod in the championships earlier this year. They rematch in the semis with the winner facing Elite heavyweight champ Nell Fox (Rathkeale) who has come down in weight.

Men’s Light Heavyweight – 81kg
Olympic Weight
With Joe Ward gone to the pros, a vacuum has developed. Heavyweight Tony Browne (St Michael’s Dublin) has stepped down in weight but he is just one of a number of fighters with a claim to the throne. Thomas O’Toole (Celtic Eagles) is the reigning champion while young hotshot Kane Tucker (Emerald) was the fighter chosen by Bernard Dunne to go to the World Championships. This selection angered some around Elite runner-up Tommy Hyde (St Michael’s Athy) who, along with Paul McCullough (St John Bosco) are aiming to make a breakthrough here. Returning to the fold is 2018 runner-up Brian Kennedy (St Mary’s Daingean) while former middleweight champ Emmet Brennan (Docklands) steps up. Experienced heads David Biscevis (St Saviours) and Michael Frayne (Clonard Wexford) are also in the mix along with Peter Nosic (Brian Dillon’s) who drops from heavyweight. Finally, keep an eye out for Sean Crowley (Arklow) who is just 17 years of age.

Men’s Heavyweight – 91kg
Olympic Weight
With Browne gone down, Kirill Afanasev will be favourite to claim a second title. However, fresh from a brilliant bronze at the World Military Championships, Danny O’Brien (Santry/Army) is a force to be reckoned with. Recent Intermediate champion Martin Mongans (Rathkeale) is looking to make an early step up while James Clarke (Crumlin) is back again.

Women’s Heavyweight – +80kg
Non-Olympic Weight
Naoise Finney (Ballybrack) has won this title on a walkover.

Men’s Super Heavyweight – +91kg
Olympic Weight
A very competitive weight to finish us off with no clear favourite. Martin Keenan (Rathkeale) is the only former champion in the field – along with reigning heavyweight champ Ken Okungbowa (Athlone) who steps up in weight. Commonwealth Games participant Stephen McMonagle (Holy Trinty) enters alongside Thomas Carthy (Crumlin) who is said to be in the form of his career. Big punching Gytis Lisinskas (Celtic Eagles) takes another shot at the biggest competition in Irish boxing while John McDonnell (Crumlin) can never be written off. Ciarán Ó Griofa (Celtic Eagles) and his team were not happy that Martin Mongan (Corpus Christi) got the nod in the Intermediate final last week and both are back again here. Another Celtic Eagles Ó Griofa, older brother Antoine ‘Toto’ rounds out the field.

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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: [email protected]