13 November 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Ireland will have three boxers in the semi-finals of the European Senior Amateur Championships following wins for Eamon OKane and John Joe Joyce in Liverpool on Wednesday evening.
Following on from Ross Hickeys success in the lightweight division the day before, middleweight OKane booked his place in the last four with a hard-fought 6-4 win over Andranik Hakobyan of Armenia.
The pair were locked at three points apiece as they went into the fourth and final round but OKane showed the greater nerve and composure in the closing two minutes to claimed a fine victory. He will now face Maxim Koptyakov of Russia for a place in Saturdays finals.
Joyce, meanwhile, set up a mouth-watering clash with long-time rival Gyula Kate in the last four with a dramatic 9-7 win over Bulgaria’s Dimitar Shtilyanov.
Just like OKane, Joyce clinched the win courtesy of a terrific final round in which he outscored his opponent 4-2.
Joyce, of course, defeated Kate in the Beijing Olympics in August despite having lost all of his previous meetings with the Hungarian.
But while there was joy for OKane and Joyce, there was disappointment for the other two Irishmen in action.
Con Sheehan was edged 4-2 in a tight heavyweight quarter-final with Petrisor Gananau. Sheehan actually won rounds one and three by one point to nil but his Romanian took the other two rounds 2-0 to steal through.
Meanwhile, David Oliver Joyce came out on the wrong end of a 10-2 scoreline against Olympic featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko.
The success of Hickey, JJJ and O’Kane means that Ireland has accrued medals from every single tournament it has entered this year.