Aoife O’Rourke has powered her way into the European final.
The Roscommon middleweight is out in Montenegro looking to defend the gold medal she won in 2019 and will have the chance to do so following an impressive win this evening versus Sweden’s Love Holgersson.
O’Rourke previously defeated Holgersson in the 2020 Strandja Memorial but had to come from a round down here to claim a much-deserved win after simply bullying the Scandanavian in rounds two and three.
A rare instance of fighting someone taller than her, O’Rourke had to get inside the long arms of Holgersson and initially found it difficult. The Castlerea boxer did work her way into a messy opening round but was edged 3-2 on the cards.
Stepping it up massively in the second, O’Rourke made Holgersson uncomfortable with constant pressure and landed some heavy backhands. The Swede was becoming ragged and looking to hang on as the champion pounded away, rocking her opponent’s head back and taking a richly deserved 10-9 on all five cards.
Up on two, level on three going into the final round, it was all to fight for but O’Rourke was the boxer in the ascendancy. Holgersson attempted to get back on the jab but couldn’t keep the relentless Roscommon woman off her. All the aggression was coming from O’Rourke who completely turned the fight around following a tight start.
Going to the cards with a fair degree of confidence, O’Rourke was confirmed the winner on a unanimous decision – 30-27 x2, 29-28 x3.
The thrilling victory sets up a repeat of the 2019 European final, with O’Rourke again facing Poland’s Elżbieta Wójcik – who she also defeated in the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers.
It has already been a brilliant day for Ireland who had secured four silvers through Amy Broadhurst, Christina Desmond, Caitlin Fryers in the afternoon session and Kellie Harrington in the evening session. Dundalk’s light welter world champ Broadhurst steamrolled tough Croat Sara Beram, returning Macroom talent Desmond was sensational versus Italian light middleweight Melissa Gemini, and break-out Belfast light fly Caitlin Fryers stormed past Azeri Anakhanim Ismayilova. Dubliner Harrington, less than an hour before O’Rourke took to the ring, cruised past Kosovar lightweight Donjeta Sadiku.
It was not to be, though, for Mayo minnimumweight Shannon Sweeney who was beaten by Bulgaria’s world bronze medallist Sevda Asenova while Belfast featherweight Michaela Walsh was unlucky to be edged by Italian Irma Testa, her Olympic nemesis.