Meet the Irish team for the 2017 EU Championships

The seven-strong Irish team flew out to Italy tonight for the revived European Union Women’s Championships.

Returning after four years, the tournament takes place in the southern town of Cascia.

Boxing begins this Saturday and runs through until the following Saturday (August 12th).

17 nations and over 90 fighters will compete in Cascia – 14 EU members: Ireland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, the U.K (represented by both English and Welsh teams), France, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Netherlands, 2 EU candidates: Turkey, Montenegro, and one non-EU country: Moldova.

Ireland’s team is a blend of youth and experience and perhaps one of the strongest in-depth Irish women’s squads ever compiled.

48kg – Light Flyweight
Kristina O’Hara
St John Bosco, Antrim
EU Youth silver (2013), European Youth silver (2014), Irish Elite Senior Champion (2017)

After taking a year out to move down in weight, O’Hara is looking to make an impact in her first major senior tournament. Possessing typical Belfast confidence, she is looking to follow on from her exemplary underage performances in Europe and claim another medal here.

koh

51kg – Flyweight
Carly McNaul
Ormeau Road, Antrim
Irish Elite Senior Champion (2017)

A newcomer to Elite boxing, McNaul is away to her first major tournament. Rapidly improving, the Belfast fighter impressed at the recent Dublin International Round Robin and the Nicolae Linca Golden Belt Memorial.

carly mcnaul

54kg – Bantamweight
Michaela Walsh
Monkstown, Antrim
European Youth bronze (2010), Commonwealth silver (2014), Irish Elite Senior Champion (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)

Returning to the squad after a rib injury forced her out of the Seniors in February. Now with Monkstown, this tournament could be Walsh’s last at 54kg as she plans a move up to 57kg next year. The most experienced of the Belfast trio, she will be confident of medaling in Italy.

michaela walsh

57kg – Featherweight
Dervla Duffy
Mulhuddart, Dublin
Irish Elite Senior Champion (2010, 2013, 2015, 2017)

Back up at featherweight and invigorated by the news that it is now an Olympic weight, the hugely experienced Monaghan fighter will be looking to claim a medal here after narrowly missing out, via split decision, at the last edition of the tournament.

dervla-duffy

60kg – Lightweight
Kelly Harrington
St Michael’s, Dublin
World silver (2016), Irish Elite Senior Champion (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Seen by many as the star of the of the Irish team, the Dubliner will be looking to stamp her authority on the lightweight division in what will be her first major tournament since moving down in weight. Always talented, Harrington looks to have hit new levels since her World silver win last year.

kelly-harrington

69kg – Welterweight
Gráinne Walsh
Spartacus, Offaly
Irish Elite Senior Champion (2017)

A good 2016 saw Walsh reach the quarters in both the Worlds and the Europeans. Now she will be looking to go, at least, one better and claim a first major medal. A destructive puncher that seems to be better every time she steps into the ring, Walsh will take some stopping.

grainne-walsh

75kg – Middleweight
Christina Desmond
Fr Horgan’s, Cork
World Youth silver (2013), EU Youth bronze (2013), World Universities bronze (2016), European bronze (2016), Irish Elite Senior Champion (2016, 2017)

A break-out 2016 saw the Cork youngster win big medals. Now one of the established names on the team, Desmond will head to Italy, and indeed all subsequent tournaments, with medals as an expectation rather than a hope.

desmond

gym trition

frayne carpentry

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