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2020 UPDATE – The pound-for-pound Irish counties rankings

Back in 2016 we put out a fun rankings of Irish counties in terms of boxing.

Having re-shared it during the week, we thought it’s time for an update.

So, below we have ranked all 32 counties in Ireland in terms of their boxing pedigree. To make the rankings somewhat consistent, they are based entirely on active fighters.

It’s just a fun topic to debate while we await boxing’s return on this side of the world – and we’d be very interested to hear our readers’ suggestions as to who is too highly or lowly ranked, and maybe even what your Top 5/Top 10/Top 32 is.

We’ve mentioned as many champions, talents, and stars as possible but there are, of course, many, many, many, many, more. Due to space, especially with the larger counties, dozen of boxers are not listed – and no offence is intended.

So, let the countdown begin!

32 – Carlow
The Raging Bull Boxing Club has an Irish champion in Nadine Dermody.

31 – Longford
The Slashers have a real rising talent on their hands in young Michael Nugent. The Olympic Mullingar boxer has five Irish underage titles to his name and is one to watch out for.

30 – Fermanagh
The Ernesiders have a recent European champion in their ranks in 2018 Schoolgirls champ Kaci Crowley of Erne Boxing Club.

29 – Kerry
Kevin Cronin is strutting his stuff in the pros for The Kingdom as is recent Celtic Nations title challenger Siobh√°n O’Leary.¬†

28 – Leitrim
European Youth silver and Youth Olympic bronze winner Dearbhla Rooney of Sean McDermott’s is arguably the Wild Rose County’s most decorated international sportsperson ever.

27 – Sligo
Yeats County has two active pro prospects in Aaron Gethins and James Lynch along with promoter Leonard Gunning. Then there is reigning Elite champion and double European underage silver medallist Dean Clancy repping the amateurs.

26 – Clare
While boxing out of Limerick, top pro prospects and former underage amateur medallists Paddy and Edward Donovan are Ennis men. Banner GAA star Keelan Sexton could also do a job if ever he were enticed back.

25 – Armagh
While both box out of Louth, Ulster and Intermediate champs¬†Eugene McKeever and Shauna O’Callaghan are both from the Orchard County. On the pro side of things there is Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Sean Duffy and Jamie Douglas.

24 – Tipperary
Dean Gardiner has ruled the super heavyweight vest in Ireland for half a decade, Conor Ivors is always there or there abouts, and there is a rising Clonmel talent in European Junior champ Ellie Mai Gartland.

23 – Down
Australian light heavyweight champion Conor Wallace hails from the Mourne County along with dominant amateur brothers Kane and Jake Tucker.

22 – Roscommon
European middleweight champion Aoife O’Rourke is a Rossie along with, obviously, her younger sister Lisa – a two-time medallist at European underage level. Then there is the New York-based Donal Ward, a recent Golden Gloves winner.

21 – Cavan
National team regular Céire Smith comes from the Breffni County, while there is a burgeoning pro rivalry between light middleweights Dominic Donegan and Owen Duffy.

20 – Offaly
EU and European Games bronze medallist Grainne Walsh is the star from this midland county. Brian Kennedy is perhaps the top male fighter while St Brigid’s Edenderry attracts talent from all over the country – and beyond, in the case of Canadian Irish Elite champ Sara Haghighat.

19 – Waterford
The Déise are becoming something of a pro hotbed with the likes of Rohan Daté, Dylan Moran, Craig McCarthy, and Rhys Moran Рalong with Ring Kings shows from Neil Power.

18 – Kilkenny
While a pro move has been delayed, Olympian and European silver medalist Darren O’Neill is still around. Then there are young cats coming through in new Elite champ Brandon McCarthy as well as brothers Shane and Keith Flavin and Urlingford youngster Michael McCarthy.

17 – Mayo
Ray Moylette is synonymous with Mayo and will be hoping to get quickly back in the swing of things following a long lay-off Рas will Gary Sweeney. These are ably backed up by some top amateurs such as the Ginty sisters, Ciara and Aoibhe, big Sean Conroy, and little Shannon Sweeney.

16 – Louth
Amy Broadhurst has two European U22 gold and a Senior bronze to add to a glittering underage career. Another young talent is Evelyn Igharo, who made her explosive Elite breakthrough in the most recent national championships, while Ricky Nesbitt is another tournament regular and Dearbhla Tinnelly already has two underage European medals.

15 – Tyrone
Irish champion Feargal McCrory has relocated to New York for the next chapter while his fellow Coalisland fighter, Conrad Cummings, is looking for one more roll of the dice. The Bradleys, Tiernan and Callum, are at the start of their pro careers and, at amateur level, European and World Youth medallist Jude Gallagher is tipped by many.

14 – Derry
Tyrone McCullagh will begin his rebuild once boxing resumes, while fellow Foylesider Connor Coyle continues to impress Stateside and Dominic Bradley represents at amateur level.

13 – Wexford
Gorey Garda Niall Kennedy is leading the charge for the Yellowbellies and Dean Walsh looks set to join him in the pros soon. In the amateurs, Caoimhe Kinsella won European Schoolgirls gold last year and is one to watch.

12 – Monaghan
The McKenna brothers, Aaron and Stevie, are flying the flag for the Oriel County on the U.S. West Coast while former Old School clubmate Terry McEntee does his thing in Ireland. Then, over in London, trainer Shane McGuigan has three world champions to his name.

11 – Meath
Dunshaughlin’s Jono Carroll is chasing a second world title tilt while Chris Blaney is hoping for a pop at the Irish title. Blaney’s younger sisters, Shauna and Catherine, on the other hand, are decorated amateurs, as is young David Oliver Joyce.

10 – Laois
Former underage king Michael Nevin claimed his first senior medal last year with European Games bronze while his Portlaoise clubmate Christian Cekiso is a National Stadium regular. In the pros, recent world champ TJ Doheny will want to quickly bounce back from a shock loss last time out.

9 – Limerick
Former WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee has moved into training and the Treaty County is now represented in the pros by Graham McCormack, Lee Reeves, Jason Harty, and Matthew Tinker. At amateur level, Limerick are always strong with the giants of Rathkeale Martin Keenan and Nell Fox and the Caseys, Tommy and Myles, from St Francis’s among the many, many fighters on the circuit.

8 – Galway
The Tribesmen have a strong amateur scene with the likes of stars Gabriel Dossen and¬†Kieran Molloy and youngster Jason Myers. Then there are the Celtic Eagles big men such as Gytis Lisinskas,¬†the √ď Griofa brothers Ciar√°n and Toto, and Thomas O’Toole as well as the extremely highly-rated Adam Hession.

7 – Donegal
Jason Quigley leads the line for Tír Chonaill and he has been joined in the pros by Brett McGinty. A strong county for amateur boxing, Leah Gallen is a two-time European underage bronze medallist and Donna Barr and Matthew McCole are some other established names. 

6 – Cork
Spike O’Sullivan is closing in on a world title tilt and Mike Perez is never too far away. Down the ladder there is Noely Murphy in New York and some hardy men in Vladimir Belujsky and Staz Tomasevski. At amateur level, Christina Desmond is the star with Callum Walsh being one to keep tabs on – as is big Tommy Hyde and youngsters Katie O’Keefe and Michael Faulkner.

5 – Westmeath
The Lake County has provided some of Ireland’s greatest amateurs ever – John Joe Nevin,¬†Joe Ward, and David Oliver Joyce (not to mention John Joyce at underage level). All of these are now doing their thing in the pros, with Nevin and DOJ having picked up rankings titles. Remaining in the amateurs there’s Elite champions Wayne Kelly¬†and Ken Okungbowa and young talent like Robyn Kelly

4 – Wicklow
Katie Taylor is perhaps our greatest ever Рand there is plenty of other talent from the Garden County. Regan Buckley won bronze at the European Games last year, Daina Moorehouse has three underage European medals, and Eddie Treacy is ripping opponents apart in the pro ring.

3 – Kildare
The lilywhites are super strong having had champions crowned at all levels recently. Irish champs Eric Donovan and Gary Cully both want breakthroughs at pro level while Dennis Hogan is after a world title shot at his natural weight. Mickes Donoghue is now a European Junior champion at amateur level and there has also been Internationals successes for Esther Lambe, Niamh Early, and new pro Katelynn Phelan.

2 – Dublin
World champ Kelly Harrington is leading the Dublin amateur scene which also includes the likes of Kirill Afanasev, George Bates, Sean Mari, Paddy Adamus, and Emmet Brennan. The next generation is especially strong with European champions Chloe Gabriel, Adam Olaniyan, Niamh Fay, Winnie Christina McDonagh, Willo Hayden, and Yasmin Meredith. In the pros,¬†Luke Keeler¬†leads the line with rising talents such as Pierce O’Leary, Senan Kelly, Tony McGlynn, Tony Browne, and Victor Rabei coming through.

1 – Antrim
The undisputed #1 Irish boxing county forever and always. Two-weight world champion Carl Frampton leads the line followed by title holders and hopefuls such as James Tennyson, Mick Conlan, Tommy McCarthy, Anto Cacace, and Paddy Gallagher as well as hot prospects like Sean McComb, James McGivern, Lewis Crocker, Caoimhin Agyarko, and Steven Donnelly. Amateur-wise, the pedigree remains strong with decorated fighters such as Brendan Irvine, Michaela and Aidan Walsh, and European champion Kurt Walker.


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