European Union Championships – IRISH TEAM PROFILES


Ireland fly off to Spain tomorrow for the European Union Men’s Championships.

The revived tournament takes place in Valladoid and a seven-man team is being sent for the hunt for medals.

Ireland has a long history with the tournament and is the most successful nation in terms of medals throughout the previous eight championships, bringing home 32 medals, twelve gold, twelve silver, and eight bronze.

The seven Irish boxers flying out tomorrow will be looking to add to this tally and go up against 24 other nations – including non-EU countries Monaco, Turkey, Albania, Georgia, and Moldova.

Boxing begins in the Central Spanish city on Friday

Below Irish-Boxing.com profiles the team

49kg – Light Flyweight
None
No light fly is being sent, perhaps in anticipation of the weight’s removal from the Olympic roster. Connor Jordan from the St Aidan’s Club in Wexford is the reigning Irish champion.

52kg – Flyweight
Conor Quinn
Clonard ABC
20
Honours: Irish Elite Champion (2018)

The Belfast flier gave Brendan Irvine a scare in the Ulster final last year and won the Irish title on a walkover as his future rival for the spot prepared for the Commonwealth Games. A strong underage fighter, Quinn has impressed in multi-nations this year and makes his major tournament debut here.

conor quinn

56kg – Bantamweight
Kurt Walker
Canal BC
23
Honours: Commonwealth Games silver (2018), European bronze (2018), Irish Elite Champion (2017, 2016, 2015), European Youth silver (2013), World Youth bronze (2012)

The most experienced and decorated member of the team, Walker will be looking to add to his expanding CV and gain experience as he gears towards the Tokyo Olympics as one of Ireland’s team leaders.

kurt walker

60kg – Lightweight
None
No lightweight is being sent, perhaps in anticipation of the weight’s removal from the Olympic roster. George Bates of St Mary’s Dublin is the reigning Irish champion while St George’s puncher James McGivern won lightweight bronze at the Commonwealth Games.

64kg – Light Welterweight
Wayne Kelly
Portlaoise BC
22
Honours: Irish Elite Champion (2018), European Schoolboys bronze (2010)

Since winning his first Irish Senior title at the start of the year Kelly has been a fixture of the High Performance and been on numerous trips. It is a major senior tournament debut for the strong Ballinacargy man and one which precedes an uncertain period with the weight class set to retract down to 63kg next year.

wayne kelly

69kg – Welterweight
Kieran Molloy
Oughterard BC
19
Honours: Irish Elite Champion (2018), European Junior bronze (2014), European Schoolboys bronze (2016)

The Galway teen has been one of the recent break-out stars of Irish boxing and is another making their major tournament debut. Hugely impressive on both the U.S. tour in March and at multi-nations, Molloy will hope to stamp his authority on the Irish 69kg spot ahead of a crucial period where many top young names will be gunning for the position.

molloy

75kg – Middleweight
Michael Nevin
Portlaoise BC
20
Honours: Irish Elite Champions (2018), World Youth bronze (2016), European Youth gold (2016), European Junior gold (2014), European Schoolboys gold (2012)

The Laois youngster’s underage achievements are almost legendary and he makes his major tournament debut here. Hugely talented, there were a few jitters during his maiden Irish Senior title win and, with Gabriel Dossen impressing, Nevin will be looking for a confidence boosting few weeks to underline his position as Ireland’s #1 going forward.

nevin

81kg – Light Heavyweight
None
Medal machine Joe Ward suffered a minor hand injury in September so cannot compete while reigning Irish champion Caoimhin Hynes has turned professional.

91kg – Heavyweight
Kirill Afanasev
Smithfield BC
26
Honours: Irish Elite Champion (2018)

Since winning his first Irish title in February, Afanasev has had an incredible year scoring more international wins for Ireland than any other senior fighter. Heading into his first tournament, Afanasev is another looking to boost his standing ahead of what looks likely to be an extremely competitive 2019 Irish Seniors.

afanasev

+91kg – Super Heavyweight
Dean Gardiner
Clonmel BC
30
Honours: Irish Elite Champion (2018, 2016, 2015), World Olympic Qualifying Tournament silver (2016)

The Tipp veteran hasn’t been had the rub of the green in terms of draws over the past year but ‘Breakfast’ will be hopeful that he can finally claim a big international medal in Spain if things go his way.

gardiner breakfast

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)

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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