A ten man Irish team fly out to Romania tomorrow to compete against 30 other nations at the European Under 22 Championships.
The tournament in Braila is the second edition of the championships, which have been revived following the inaugural competition in Kaliningrad back in 2012 where Jason Quigley won gold and Hughie Myers took silver.
An opportunity for younger boxers to develop and compete at a high international level without rushing into Elite competition, the championships are a welcome addition to the calendar.
Encouragingly, the IABA are buying in heavily into the tournament, and the Irish team have been undergoing top class preparations at their new base in Abbottstown over the past five weeks.
Across the ten boxers there is a mixture of youth and experience, slicksters and scrappers, and with a bit of luck there will be some medals coming back this month from Eastern Europe.
Below Irish-Boxing.com profile the ten boxers.
Light Flyweight – 49kg
The Donegal man is a compact and destructive little fighter who blasted his way to the Irish U22 title in January before being edged out by Blaine Dobbins in the Senior Elite final. A nine-time Irish champion at underage level, Moran is no stranger to trips abroad to represent his country and came so close to medaling at the European Youths in 2014, losing a split decision in the quarters.
Flyweight – 52kg
The rangey and skilfull fighter has hit his stride over the past year, and impressed for Ireland at the World Youths in November. Making the move up to 52kg, the Dublin stylist was one of the stand-out performers in the Irish U22s, and will be one to watch in Romania despite his young age.
Bantamweight – 56kg
A late replacement for U22 champion James McGivern, Walker is undoubtedly the most experienced and decorated boxer in the side. A European Youth silver and World Youth bronze medalist, the Antrim man also has Elite International tournament experience having gone to the European Games in 2015. Fresh from winning his third Elite Senior title, Walker will be aiming for gold here ahead of the European Senior Championships during the Summer.
Lightweight – 60kg
The southpaw counter-puncher makes his Irish International debut here. A runner up at the most recent Intermediates, Duffy showed some impressive adaptability to put on an aggressive performance to defeat Martin Sammon in the Irish U22 final earlier this year.
Light Welterweight – 64kg
The Kilkenny boxer is one of the more experienced heads on the team. A regular in an irish vest and a competitor at the Elite Senior championships, Flavin was also team captain at the World Youths ways back in 2012. A crafty and clever fighter, the U22 champion is tough to beat.
Welterweight – 69kg
Holy Family Drogheda
The Armagh man was unlucky to be edged out by John Maughan in the U22 final when a cut brought an end to their contest in the second round. A smart and solid all-rounder, McKeever also grabbed the Intermediate title at light welter back in November before moving up in weight.
Middleweight – 75kg
A late starter but a quick learner, Cassidy only picked up boxing a few years ago. Despite this, the rangey Waterford puncher finished runner up in the Intermediates and claimed the U22 crown in January. A nightmare to fight, the awkward Déise boxer has the sort of reach and unorthodox style that could cause some problems.
Light Heavyweight – 81kg
St Mary’s Daingean
The Offaly youngster is a skilful boxer, although he does pack a punch when needed. A participant at the European Youths last year and the reigning Intermediate and U22 champion, Kennedy will be well able for the big stage here.
Heavyweight – 91kg
The outspoken Dub has plenty of natural talent and, if he has been whipped into shape over the past month or so, he will be a threat here. An Intermediate champion as far back as 2014, Kavanagh was off the scene for a period, but has returned in the past year or so and is targeting the Tokyo Olympics
Super Heavyweight – +91kg
Captain Carty will lead the Irish into battle over the next week. Another outspoken Dubliner, the venomous counter-puncher has a good skill set and plenty of power. Carty strolled to top prize at the recent Irish U22s and is a two-time Elite Senior runner-up with over a year’s worth of experience training in the High Performance Unit. While Ireland are not known for having massive success in the higher weights, Carty will be a big medal hope here.
Jamie Conlan joins Gavan Casey and Joe O’Neill for Episode 3 of The Irish Boxing Show: