Five National U22 Championship Finals to Watch out for

One of the more keenly contested Under-22 National Championships in recent years concludes at the National Stadium on Saturday. 

Each final is exciting in its own right and there is something to take from each decider. However, we’ve picked out some which stand out to us. 

60kg Josefin Betist (St Brigids L) V Eve Woods (DCU)

There is a real international flavour to the lightweight decider and not in the European medal winner versus European medal winner way. 

Josefien Betist, a multiple-time Dutch champion, who has represented Holland at major tournaments, will attempt to become the Irish champion at under-22 level. 

That fact alone makes it a final with added intrigue but throw in the fact she takes on Eve Woods and you get a final that shouldn’t be missed.

Wood is a 2021 Elite champion and reigning Under-22 light welterweight champ, she moves down to lightweight in a bid to enjoy success at a weight class the likes of Katie Taylor and Kellie Harrington call home.  

 66kg Leanne Murphy (Togher) V Kaci Rock (Enniskerry)

The rivalry is renewed.

Leanne Murphy and Kaci Rock fight for the SEVENTH time at the domestic level at the National Stadium in a fight many suggest could be the fight of a busy day.  

A European Junior medal winner in 2018, Murphy is ahead on aggregate when it comes to wins between the pair – but Rock won their last meeting at this level and has gone on to establish herself as an Elite International fighter.

The 2021 Elite champ and European Under-22 medalist has represented Ireland at the World Championships and is a High Performance regular, although that only makes the prize bigger for the Cork native.

This is one not to be missed.

67kg Cian Duggan (Cabra) V Gareth Dowling (Dublin Docklands)

Such has Gareth Dowling’s tournament todate that his final was always going to be one to watch out for.

Dowling registered some big wins, including a victory over World Championships medal winner Jim Donovan and the respected Cian Crammer, en route to the decider. The Dockland’s fighter has also shown real natural power over the three fights making any fight he is involved in one to keep an eye on.

Making things more interesting, Dowling faces a fighter some suggest has the perfect tools to beat him in Cian Duggan. Duggan saw his Cabra clubmate, Crammer, beaten by Dowling last weekend and will be all out for club revenge.

70kg Evelyn Igharo (Clann Naofa) V Linda Desmond (Rylane) 

Maybe not one that jumps off the page but the 70kg decider could be one to catch fire.

Evelyn Igharo and Linda Desmond are both decorated and talented operators with experience of winning on the South Circular Road, two of the main ingredients for a quality final.

However, the fact both are probably in need of a big win and big performance to reignite their international ambitions adds some sauce to this decider.

Igharo, a European Youth silver in 2018 and a National Elite champ in 2021, lost out to  Lisa O’Rourke at this age level last year in what was a sliding doors fight, victory would see her re-stake her international claim.  Desmond, of Rylane, suffered a defeat to Eve Woods at 63kg last year, and moves up in weight trying to get back into the Irish winner’s circle.

 71kg Jon McConnell (Holy Trinity) V Darragh Gilroy (Fr Flanagans)

Just like Martin McDonagh and  Anton Genocky in the under-18 finals Jon McConnell versus Darragh Gilroy is the amateur equivalent of what is called a trade fight in the pro game.

McConnell caught the eye en route to the National Elite final earlier this year where he gave Dean Walsh a good. fight He also comes with a  real confident air and even a brash approach. Pair that with the more go-about-your-business approach of Darragh Gilroy, who is the reigning Senior [Intermediate] Champion, and you have a great fight.


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