Crocker Controversy: NI name team for Commonwealth Youth Games

The Ulster Council have named the boxing squad to represent Northern Ireland at September’s Commonwealth Youth Games in Apia, Samoa.

The five-strong team is as follows:

Stevie McKenna of Old School BC in Monaghan will line out in the light flyweight division (49kg). The recently crowned Irish u18s champion will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of fellow light flyweight Brendan Irvine, who lit up the European Games this Summer.

At bantamweight (56kg), Team NI will be represented by James McGivern. The St. George’s ABC fighter was a gold medal winner in at the 2012 European Schoolboy Championships in Russia and will be hoping to add to his international medal haul in the South Pacific.

Five-time Irish champion Tiernan Bradley will take part in the lightweight division (60kg). The Sacred Heart Omagh BC fighter has medalled in international competition before – winning a bronze at the 2011 European Schoolboys in Bulgaria back in 2011.

Holy Family GG boxer Aidan Walsh will participate in the light welterweight division (64kg). Walsh is younger brother to Senior Irish bantamweight champion, and Commonwealth silver medalist, Michaela Walsh and will be looking to make a similar international impact in the Samoan capital.

Brett McGinty of Oakleaf BC in Derry has been selected at welterweight (69kg). McGinty is a six-time Irish champion and won bronze at the 2012 European Schoolboys in Russia. McGinty’s selection however has proved controversial – with many, including IBF super bantamweight champion Carl Frampton, claiming that Holy Trinity BC’s Lewis Crocker should have been given the place instead.

Crocker, a year older than McGinty, won bronze at the 2011 European Schoolboys in Bulgaria, is undefeated at his weight in Ireland, and is internationally experienced. Indeed, Ulster High Performance director, John Conlan, nominated Crocker for the team before being overruled by the Ulster Council. Holy Trinity BC are pushing for a box-off between the pair and we will await to see the Ulster Council’s response.

Now in its fifth edition, the Commonwealth Youth Games have been a happy hunting ground for Northern Irish boxers. Back in 2004, in Australia, a certain Carl Frampton claimed bronze, with Patrick Murphy and Dee McComb taking home silver and bronze respectively. In the 2008 Games in India, Sean Duffy claimed silver while current pro, Paul Hyland Jr., took home a bronze. The 2011 Games on the Isle of Man saw Joe FItzpatrick, Enda Kennedy, and Conor Doherty all win bronze.

The 2015 squad will be jetting off to Russia in a few weeks to receive some world class preparation before they make their assault on the medals in September.

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