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Life in the Old Dog – Darren O’Neill Defeats Emerging Star – National Elite Championships Session 1 Results and Report

The first every Irish Elite cruiserweight bout lived up to its billing, as Darren O’Neill and Kane Tucker served up a highly entertaining three rounds in the early afternoon National Elite Championships session today.

36-year-old O’Neill proved there was life in the old dog yet as the evergreen southpaw claimed split decision victory over a much fancied fighter nigh on 15 years his junior at the National Stadium.

The London Olympian showed real quality, know-how, and even grit to win a real throwback action and quality-packed seniors bout.

Having beaten the former underage star the semi-final bound veteran Kilkenny fighter will now look to win his EIGHT senior title.

O’Neill showed no signs of a four-year absence from the ring in the first round. He pressed the action and attempted to push the emerging young talent back onto the ropes. The London Olympian appeared to be dominating when in close but Tucker had success when allowed to work from the outside.

It was a little more tactical in the second round, with O’Neill standing off somewhat. However, he still landed some eye catching shots against the Emerald man. Tucker, who is viewed as a Paris prospect, did enjoy success of his own and with veteran O’Neill understandably tiring it looked as if he could have a big final stanza.

Tucker found his range early in the third and started strongly landed clean and exiting before O’Neill could reply. However, O’Neill seemed to respond to the sight of blood mid way through the stanza. He bit down on his gumshield and was able to walk his young rival onto big single shots thrown from a tired stance.

Nicole Clyde of Antrim won the battle of the Nicole’s in the first fight of the afternoon. The 2019 under-18 champion and European Youth competitor defeated Togher’s Nicole Hayes via a unanimous points win.

The judges were not needed for the second bout as Brandon McCarty ended proceedings early. The decorated underage star and Paris 2024 hopeful stopped Muskerry’s Jamie Long in the first round of their 63.5kg clash. The St Michael’s man, a reigning champion at 60kg, has never lost a final at the National Stadium and will be hopeful of making this year’s decider and collecting his 16th Irish crown.

A second early stoppage looked on the cards in the next bout as Wayne Kelly handed Eoghan Quinn of St Johns a standing eight count in their 67kg quarter-final. However, Quinn regrouped, survived the round and played his part in an entertaining fight. The experienced, Kelly, fighting out of his father’s Ballynacargy gym, had too much by way of quality for Quinn and emerged unanimous points winner.

Damien Craven’s competitive boxing debut was an impressive one. The kickboxing convert showed real skill and class against the aggressive former underage Irish champion Evan Fitzgerald but ultimately ended up on the wrong end of the result after his fight was stopped on a cut at the end of the third.

The Olympic Galway fighter did appear to get the better of the first two rounds frustrating the former underage Irish champ with his footwork and constant switch-hitting. However, the ever-game and strong Lucan fighter managed to land a punch that opened up a cut – and kept his 67kg Elite aspirations alive in the process.

Michael Avetisian put in one of the performances of his senior career to progress to the semi-final of the 67kg weight class.

The Mulhuddart fighter claimed victory in a Dublin derby over Kenneth Doyle of Monkstown. The repeat of the 2020 63kg quarter-final, which Avetisian won via a split decision, was competitive and entertaining but not as tight, as livewire Avetisian scored unanimous points victory over his fellow Intermediate Championship winner in the 67kg division.

Two time Ulster Champion Eugene McKeever was too slick and strong from Northside’s Barry O’Connor in the penultimate fight of the night.

The Holy Family fighter dominated with class and real presence to claim a unanimous points win, producing the kind of performance that will only add interest to what looks like a competitive final 67kg final four.


September 18th

Quarter-finals (12pm)

50kg Nicole Clyde (Antrim) beat Nicole Hayes (Togher) 5-0
63.5kg John McConnell (Holy Trinity) W/O
63.5kg Brandon McCarthy (St Michaels Athy) beat Jamie Long (Muskerry) KO1
63.5kg Nathan Richmond (Scorpion) W/O
63.5kg Jack McGivern (St Georges) W/O
67kg Wayne Kelly (Ballynacargy) beat Eoghan Quinn (St Johns U) 5-0
67kg Evan Fitzgerald (Esker) beat Damien Creaven (Olympic Galway) RSCI3
67kg Michael Avetisian (Mulhuddart) beat Kenneth Doyle (Monkstown D) 5-0
67kg Eugene McKeever (Holy Family) beat Barry O ‘Connor (Northside) 5-0
86kg Darren O’Neill (Paulstown)beat Kane Tucker (Emerald A) 3-2

September 18th


57kg Kurt Walker (Canal) V Adam Hession (Monivea)
57kg Bailey Marshall (Emerald A) V Sean Purcell (Saviours Crystal)
57kg Jake McMahon (Liberty) V Jordan Smith (Holy Family Drogheda)
92+kg Patrick Rogers (St Johns U) V Jack Divine (Springtown)
92+kg Gytis Lisinkas (Celtic Eagles) V Thomas Maughan (Cavan)
92+kg Kenneth Okungbowa (Athlone) V Martin Keenan (Rathkeale)
92+kg Phil Brophy (Angels) V Samuel Ilesanni (St Mary’s D)

Septemmber 17th SEPTEMBER


48kg Carol Coughlan (Monkstown D) beat Courtney Daly (Crumlin) 5-0
54kg Sara Haghighat-Jo (Edenderry) beat Clodagh McComiskey (Gilford) 5-0
57kg Jake McMahon (Liberty) W/O
57kg Jordan Smith (Holy Family Drogheda) W/O
57kg Jude Gallagher (Two Castles) beat Patryk Adamus (Drimnagh) 3-2
60kg Dominic Bradley (Emerald A) W/O
60kg Teo Allen (Cookstown) beat Thomas McCann (St Pauls A) 5-0
80kg Keelan Cassidy (Saviours Crystal) W/O
92+kg Samuel Ilesanni (St Mary’s D) W/O

September 24th


48kg Chloe Fleck (Canal) V Shannon Sweeney (St Annes)
48kg Ciara Walsh (Smithfield) V Winner
51kg Michael Stokes (St Michaels Athy) V Paddy McShane (Letterkenny)
54kg Niamh Faye (Ballyboughal) V Kirsten Cresham (Castlebar)
54kg Emma Flannery (Baldoyle) V Winner
54kg Jake Rapple (Monkstown D) V Nathan Horrigan (Crumlin)
57kg Winner V Winner
57kg Winner V Winner
60kg John Paul Hale (Star) V Michael Stephens (Drimnagh)


September 25 (3pm)

57kg Jennifer Lehan (DCU) V Zara Breslin (Tramore)
57kg Kellie McLoughlin (Drimnagh) V Michaela Walsh (Monkstown A)
63.5kg Winner V Winner
63.5kg Winner V Winner
66kg Renee Roache (DCU) V Keisha Attewell (Tobar Pheadair)
66kg Grainne Walsh (Sparticus) V Kaci Rock (Enniskerry)
67kg Winner V Winner
67kg Winner V Winner
70kg Lisa O’Rourke (Castlerea) V Evelyn Igharo (Clann Naofa)
71kg Kieran Molloy (Oughterard) V Jack Brady (Crumlin)
71kg Emeka Onwuka (All Saints) V Luke Maguire (Esker)
80kg Tommy Hyde (St Michaels Athy) V John Joe Nevin (Crumlin)
80kg Stewart Edwards (Crumlin) V Winner
86kg James Redmond (Ballybrack) V Faolain Rahill (DCU)
86kg Ighosa Igharo (Clann Naofa) V Winner
92kg Marcin Skalski (Athlone) V Kiril Afanasev (Smithfield)
92kg Cathal Crowley (Spartan M) V Jack Marley (Monkstown D)
92+kg Winner V Winner
92+kg Winner V Winner

October 2nd


48kg Winner V Winner
48kg Ricky Nesbitt (Holy Family L) V Caomhin Logue (Springtown)
50kg Caitlin Fryers (Immaculata) V Winner
51kg Paudraic Downey (St John Bosco A) V Winner
52kg Niamh Early (Ryston) V Daina Moorehouse (Enniskerry)
54kg Winner V Winner
54kg Brendan Irvine (St Pauls A) V Winner
57kg Winner V Winner
57kg Winner V Winner
60kg Amy Broadhurst (St Bronaghs) W/O
60kg Winner V Winner
63kg Eve Woods (Corinthians) V Gillian Duffy (St Mary’s D)
63.5kg Winner V Winner
66kg Winner V Winner
67kg Winner V Winner
70kg Christina Desmond (Dungarvan) V Winner
71kg Winner V Winner
75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Castlrea) W/O
75kg Sean Donaghy (St Canices) V Winner
80kg Winner V Winner
81kg Nell Fox (Rathkeale) V Bethany Doocey (Castlebar)
86kg Winner V Winner
92kg Winner V Winner
92+kg Winner V Winner
60kg Winner V Winner
75kg Gabriel Dossen (Olympic Galway) V Daniel O’Sullivan (Lucan)

Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: