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Difficult but correct decisions – Dunne discusses Olympic qualifier section

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Bernard Dunne admits picking the Irish team to compete in the first round of Olympic qualifiers was difficult, but is confident he and the selectors have made the right call.

A team of 13 was confirmed for the European qualifying tournament last week.

Five females and eight males will battle it out with the best European has to offer between March 14 and 24 for a select number of places on the plan to Tokyo.

Team Ireland

  • Ceire Smith (51kg)
  • Michaela Walsh (57kg)
  • Kellie Harrington (60kg)
  • Christina Desmond (69kg)
  • Aoife O’Rourke (75kg)
  • Brendan Irvine (52kg)
  • Kurt Walker (57kg)
  • George Bates (63kg)
  • Aidan Walsh (69kg)
  • Michael Nevin (75g)
  • Emmett Brennan (81kg)
  • Kirill Afanasev (91kg)
  • Dean Gardiner (91kg+)

Performance Director with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, Dunne admits picking the 13 wasn’t easy.

There were some star studded weights and some decorated amateurs that had to be left out. Some tough decision were made, but Dunne see’s that as a positive.

“I think we have selected the best team possible to qualify for the Olympic games via the qualifiers in London.

“We have a good young squad. We have one former Olympian, we have European champions, we have a world champion- it’s a strong squad,” said Dunne.

“I think it’s as strong as possible at this point in time and we are very comfortable with it. We’ve made the right selections,” he adds before stressing the some of the decision were tough.

“It was quite challenging picking the team. In certain weight classes we have a top five in the world and a European bronze medal winner, at another weight we have a World gold medalists and a European silver medalist, we also have a top eight in the world and the European silver medalist.

“So you look across all the weights and we have good competition for everyone. It makes our job difficult in selecting the team, but that’s what you want. We want that challenge and internal competition where every one can drive each others performance. It was a tough task picking the team, but we feel we have picked the correct team.”

With attention now switching from securing selection to securing a place on the plane to Tokyo the training will intensify and become London specific.

Former WBA super bantamweight champion of the world, Dunne is happy with the how those selected have been working.

“The guys are in great shape. They have done all that’s been asked of them in training. If they go and perform to their best that’s all we can really ask of them. They have worked really hard and done all that has been asked of them.”

The intensity will increase during a two week training camp in Italy, but again Dunne has encouraged the 13 to relish it as it’s all part of the road to becoming an Olympian.

“We have an intense two week training champ in Italy with other countries all prepping for the Olympic qualifiers. It’s exciting, this is the stage that all these guys want to be involved in. It’s a great opportunity for them to and get to the Olympic Games.”


Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: