There was no one happier in the National Stadium on Friday night than Kelyn Cassidy.
The Waterford middleweight, a relative novice in comparison to many of the competitors at the tournament, claimed the National Under-22 title, an emotional first all-Ireland win.
The rangey Déise fighter took on Darndale destroyer Martin Collins in a messy clash of styles that saw both boxers covered in blood by the final bell.
A split-decision verdict saw two judges opt for the longer, counter-punching Cassidy over the non-stop Dublin slugger.
It was a happy return to the National Stadium for the Saviours Crystal boxer who was on the other end of a split-decision the last time he fought at the home of Irish boxing. Then he was pipped by Tony McGlynn in the final of the Senior [Intermediate] Championships and, having upped his training since, Cassidy was overjoyed with the win.
The 19 year old spoke to Irish-Boxing.com following the fight and described how “it feels unbelievable, I’m feeling unreal. It feels even better after getting beat in the Seniors before the new year. It’s an unbelievable feeling. I’ve been training even harder after the Seniors. The way I felt then, I never wanted to feel like that again.”
Cassidy, who had a pre-existing nose injury open up during the fight, paid tribute to his opponent afterwards, commenting that “he got cut over the eye early in the first round. It was a bloodbath. He was a really, really tough opponent, I’ll give him that. He was quality, really strong. A work horse who kept coming forward, fair play to the man.”
“My nose almost got the better of me, it happened [the injury] before the new year. I was in a heap before I came out, but I relaxed and I was delighted to sneak through at the end.”
“I dug deep and got the decision.”
For Cassidy it was his first fight of the championships having received a bye and a walkover en-route to the decider. He admitted that it was tough to begin at the final stage, but felt that he rose to the occasion.
“It was hard to deal with,” he said. “Very hard to deal with. Michael Nevin and Rhys Moran, two excellent boxers, they got matched with each other first and I had to box the winner, then Michael Nevin withdrew with a hand injury – I hope he’s okay because he’s a phenomenal boxer.”
“So I got straight into the final which was hard to deal with because I had no fights coming into it – but I just came in like a different man, I came in as if I had ten fights.”
Cassidy donned a pair of mismatched knee-length socks for the bout as part of Odd Socks for Katie, a road safety awareness campaign set up in honour of his friend Katie Murphy, who tragically passed away following a car crash last year.
The Munster teen explained how “there was a tragedy in Tramore back in October, my best friend died in a car crash and to raise awareness everyone is wearing odd socks. I wore the socks today and I did her proud.”
Now ‘Too Smooth’ Cassidy is hoping for his first Irish call-up, and is eyeing a spot on the team that will head to Romania in March for the European Under-22 Championships, saying that “fingers crossed I get picked and I’ll go out and put my name out there.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)
Eric Donovan joins Gavan Casey and Joe O’Neill on Episode 2 of the Irish Boxing Show: