It was a different Brendan Irvine than before on Friday night at the National Senior Elite finals.
While the Wee Rooster’s talent is undoubted, his performance at the weekend was one of assured domination.
The Belfast flyweight took on Cork’s Tommy McCarthy in the 52kg decider and took a unanimous decision win over the talented teen, landing hurtful shots throughout, the third round especially, and forcing a standing count on the game Mayfield stylist.
The European Games silver medalist has grown and bulked up in the months since his Olympic opening round loss to Uzbekistan’s eventual gold medal winner Shakhobidin Zoirov, and now certainly seems to be at home among the flyweights
Irvine said after the win, which was his third Elite title, that “I’m delighted to be able to lift another Irish Senior title, not only for myself, but for my club and my family, it’s an honour for me. All the kids in the St Pauls club look up to me as a role model so it’s brilliant to give them something back.”
“I felt really comfortable. He’s a lovely lad, I respect him.”
“I only really got going in the last round, it took me a while to get going. I’d been sitting in the dressing room a long time, my legs felt like lead getting into the ring.”
Irvine has gone from being one of the youngsters on the team, a boxer with the words ‘dark horse’ seemingly permanently attached to his name, to being one of the stars of the show. However, following his Olympic experience, the 20 year old is well able for his newfound spot at centre stage.
“This here crowd, compared to the crowd in Rio, is nothing,” he explained. “It’s completely different. It’s the world’s biggest stage, bright lights, everybody screaming, so coming back to fighting in Dublin, you’re more ready for it. I was cool, I was calm, and I was relaxed.”
“When I was in my first Seniors nobody really knew who I was, now people know who I am. That young fella obviously knew who I was and he was only 18, same as I was when I first entered, so the roles were reversed a bit. There was no pressure on him, he was just coming to give it a go. If he beats me, he’d be loving it, he’d be the talk of the place. The pressure was on me I suppose, but you just get used to it.”
“Although there’s no Olympics, this is a huge year for me with the European Championships and the Worlds if I qualify. People will be more wary of me, I just need to keep performing.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)