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Four Medal Hual for Ulster Select in Lithuania

By Chris McNulty

Ulster boxers came away from the Algirdas Socikas Tournament in Lithuania with four medals.

JP Hale returned with silver while there were bronze medals for Matthew McCole, Rhys Owens and Donagh Keary.

A six-strong team travelled to Kaunas under the direction of coaches, double Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes, Kevin Morgan and Brendan Irvine.

Star BC ace Hale had to settle for a silver after a hand injury denied him the chance to go for the 63.5kg gold.

Hale defeated Danylo Dryzhak from Ukraine on a unanimous decision in his opening bout before edging a 3-2 split decision against England’s Joe Tyres.

The Belfast light-welter looked set for a final showdown with Kazakhstan’s Zhandos Kydyraliyev, but the hand ailment denied Hale – who lost out to Aaron O’Donoghue in November’s Irish Elite final – an opportunity for a colour upgrade.

Rathfriland’s Keary left with the 57kgs bronze. Keary, the 2023 Irish intermediate champion, was beaten by Denys Rozdolskyi from Ukraine on a 4-1 decision.

Owens bagged the bronze at 60kgs. The Erne BC puncher overcame Ukraine’s Maksym Vlasiuk before being beaten by home favourite Matvejs Prokudins, the eventual silver medal winner.

Donegal light-middle Matthew McCole also left with a bronze. The Illies Golden Gloves southpaw opened his account with a slender 3-2 split decision win over Armenian Narek Zakharyan.

The Dungloe native lost out to Ukraine’s Maksym Molodan in a semi-final.

Curiously, Molodan had been planning to fight in Donegal back in November. However, a visa issue denied Molodan – who is 2-0 as a pro – an appearance on the Rumble In The Hills card.

Baregham Harutyunyan from Armenia got the better of Clepson Dos Santos at 51kgs while Anthony Malanaphy, also at 63.5kgs, was defeated by Kazakhstan’s Zhandos Kydyraliyev.

Glengormley ABC’s Malachy Scott was at the tournament as a referee/judge.


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