Ireland name big squad for USA Tour


A new-look Ireland squad will be shipping up to Boston this week for a three fight tour in New England.

An 18-strong squad will make the transatlantic trip, including 12 of the recently-crowned Elite Senior Championships.

The champions making the trip are Kieran Molloy and Gráinne Walsh – who claimed the Best Boxer award for their respective genders at Seniors – as well as Lauren Hogan, Kelly Harrington, Aoife Burke, Dean Gardiner, Kirill Afanasev, Caoimhin Agyarko Hynes, Michael Nevin, Kieran Molloy, Wayne Kelly, George Bates and Evan Metcalfe

Young star Paddy Donovan makes the trip, and will not compete at the European Under 22 Championships in Romania. The squad and Seniors runners-up Caoimhin Ferguson, Brett McGinty, Eugen McKeever, and Frankie Cleary while Belfast banger Gerard French rounds out the team.

Shannon Sweeney, Céire Smith, Joanne Lambe, Aoife O’Rourk, Nell Fox, Connor Jordan, and Conor Quinn, are the unfortunate Senior champions who will not be making the journey as well as Michaela Walsh is obviously deep in preparations for the Commonwealth Games.

The USA and Ireland meet in Boston next Monday March 12th, then in Springfield on Thursday March 15th and in Manchester in neighbouring New Hampshire on Wednesday March 21st.

Bernard Dunne, Irish Athletic Boxing Association High-Performance Director, believes that the USA versus Ireland could b the startof something special.

“It’s a great opportunity to develop a partnership between us and the American team because we are not competing against each other to qualify for major tournaments out there,” he said.

”I also see it as a great opportunity for both nations to start sharing ideas and developing our athletes together. America is always strong; they’ve got great strength in depth. They have a lot of talent out there.”

“We’re bringing out a young team. It’s a developing team and it’s an opportunity to have a look at them in this environment. I’m sure it’s going to be a lively atmosphere at all the bouts because it’s the St Patrick’s festival and Ireland versus the USA always attracts attention.”

“We have a young team, but they’ve got talent. We have talented young boxers coming through that have been coached in their clubs and developed in their clubs. They’re coming to us with a skill set and we polish them off and bring them to the next level.”
anyway,” he finished.

Irish Olympian and the final man to defeat Mike Tyson, Kevin McBride, has been named honorary Irish captain while Mickey Ward is honorary American skipper for the triple header.

Former Irish head coach Billy Walsh, now leading Team USA, is expected to call up a number of his leading prospects.
including 2017 World Championship bronze medalist Troy Isley and recent World Youths medalists Delante Johnson and Richard Torrez.

“I have some good guys and gals coming through and competition for places is intense as we enter the Olympic cycle. We’re looking forward to what should be three top class meetings with Ireland,” said Wexford’s Walsh.

The Irish squad leave for the USA on Thursday [March 8th].

USA v Ireland

March 12: Royale Entertainment Complex, Boston, Mass.
March 15: MassMutual Center, Springfield, Mass.
March 21: The Manchester Downtown Hotel, Manchester, N.H.

Irish squad

Female
54kg: Lauren Hogan (St Brigid’s BC)
60kg: Kellie Harrington (St Mary’s BC)
69kg: Grainne Walsh (Spartacus BC)
75kg: Aoife Burke (St Mary’s BC)

Male
91kg+: Dean Gardiner (Clonmel BC)
91kg: Kiril Afanasev (Glasnevin BC)
81kg: Caoimhin Agyarko Hynes (Holy Trinity BC)
75kg: Michael Nevin (Portlaoise BC)
75kg: Brett McGinty (Oakleaf BC)
75kg: Gerard French (Clonard BC)
69kg: Kieran Molloy (Oughterard BC)
69kg: Eugene McKeever (Holy Family BC)
64kg: Wayne Kelly (Portlaoise BC)
64kg: Caoimhin Ferguson (Clonard BC)
64kg: Paddy Donovan (OLOL BC)
60kg: George Bates (St Mary’s BC)
60kg: Francis Cleary (Ballina BC)
56kg: Evan Metcalfe (Hyland Academy BC)

Team manager – Bernard Dunne
Head coach – Zauri Antia
Coach – Phillip Keogh
Coach – Martin Donovan
Coach – Paul Thompson

dpg

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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