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Olympic qualifier update – 10 Irish fighters still in play

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Ten Irish boxers – including Brendan Irvine who qualified for Tokyo 2020 – will still be in play when the European qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 resume at the date and host city to be confirmed.

The 43-nation competition was postponed in London last Monday night because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Kellie Harrington, Michaela Walsh, Aoife O’Rourke, George Bates, Aidan Walsh, Michael Nevin, Emmet Brennan, Kiril Afanasev and Dean Gardiner were scheduled to fight on the March 17 and March 18 but the tournament was shelved on March 16 after three days of competition.

Bates, who requires a top 8 finish, was one win away from booking a spot at the 32nd Olympiad.

Boxers requiring top 6 finishes must reach the semi-finals to automatically qualify. However, if they make the quarter-finals and lose they’ll box-off for the remaining places with the other beaten quarter-finalists.

There’s no ambiguity about the men’s heavy and super-heavy and women’s middle limits; they must finish in the top four (reach the semi-finals).

Belfast flyweight Brendan Irvine, meanwhile, qualified by virtue of finishing in the top eight after beating Hungary’s Istavan Szaka to join an illustrious cast of Irish boxers – beginning with Myles McDonagh (Army BC) and Cork’s Willie “Boy” Murphy (Army BC/Garda BC) at the Paris 1924 and Amsterdam 1928 Games – to become a two-time Olympian.

The “Boy” Murphy was born in India to Cork parents and also claimed an Egyptian middleweight belt when he was just 17.

Meanwhile, Irvine, the Irish captain in London, having achieved the prime objective of qualifying for Tokyo, and Spain’s Gabriel Escobar will meet in the European quarter-finals with at least bronze up for grabs.

16 flyweights and featherweights qualified for the 2020 Games last Monday night.

61 Olympic places remain to be claimed in Europe.

Overall, Ireland won six out of nine bouts in London, a 66% return.

Courtesy of the IABA

European Qualifiers for Tokyo 2020

Copperbox Arena London March 13/24

March 16

Last 32

69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) beat Pavel Kamanin (Spain) 5-0

75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) beat Pas der Van (Netherlands) 4-1

Last 16

52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) beat Istavan Szaka (Hungary) 5-0

51kg Carly McNaul (Ireland) lost Charley Davison (Team Great Britain) 0-5

57kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) lost to Hamsat Shadolov (Germany) 0-5

March 17

Last 16


57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) v Mona Mestian (France)

60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) v Aneta Rygielska (Poland)

63kg George Bates (Ireland) v Javid Chalabiyev (Azerbaijan)

75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Ireland) v Viktoriya Kebikava (Belarus)

75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) v Arman Darchinyan (Armenia)

81kg Emmet Brennan (Ireland) v Uke Smajli (Switzerland)

91kg Kiril Afanasev (Ireland) V Emanual Reyes (Spain)

March 18

Last 16


69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) v Wahid Hambli (France)

91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) v Petar Belberov (Bulgaria)

March 19



52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) v Gabriel Escobar (Spain)

March 15

Last 32

63kg George Bates (Ireland) beat Leon Dominguez (Spain) RSCI1

81kg Emmet Brennan (Ireland) beat Radenko Tomic (Bosnia & Herzegovina) RSC2

91kg Kiril Afanasev (Ireland) beat Begadze Nikoloz (Georgia) 4-1

Last 16

69kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) lost to Angela Carina (Italy) 0-5

Irish squad

(Olympic qualification standard in brackets)


52kg Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s, Antrim) Cpt (Top 8) (qualified)

57kg Kurt Walker (Canal, Antrim) (Top 8)

63kg George Bates (St Mary’s, Dublin) (Top 8)

69kg Aidan Walsh (Monkstown, Antrim) (Top 6)

75kg Michael Nevin (Portlaoise, Laois) (Top 6)

81kg Emmet Brennan (Dublin Docklands) (Top 6)

91kg Kiril Afanasev (Smithfield, Dublin) (Top 4)

91+kg Dean Gardiner (Clonmel, Tipperary) (Top 4)


51kg Carly McNaul (Ormeau Road, Belfast) (Top 6)

57kg Michaela Walsh (Monkstown, Antrim) (Top 6)

60kg Kellie Harrington (St Mary’s, Dublin) (Top 6)

69kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgan’s, Cork, Garda BC) (Top 5)

75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Castlerea, Roscommon) (Top 4)

High-Performance Director: Bernard Dunne

Coaches: Zaur Antia, John Conlan, Dmitry Dimitruk


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: