Following two previous weekends of preliminary action, the National Elite Senior Championships culminated with an epic finals night at the home of Irish boxing where 20 champions were crowned.
The night marked an important moment for Irish boxing, with national broadcaster RTÉ returning and airing a number of bouts live on terrestrial television, an undoubted good for the select few fighters that received airtime.
It is no doubt a transitional period and this year’s field had a fresh look, with a number of fighters tied up with the Commonwealth Games, World Series of Boxing, or being otherwise ruled out – meaning just four fighters sought to retain their belts.
Two of these fighters did just that, with Kelly Harrington and Gráinne Walsh both impressing in defeating former underage stars Amy Broadhurst and Ciara Ginty at lightweight and welterweight respectively. Offaly destroyer Walsh was subsequently awarded the inaugural Jimmy Magee Perpetual Trophy for Best Female Boxer.
There was no joy though for featherweight Dervla Duffy who was ousted by EU bantamweight gold medalist Michaela Walsh and Martin Keenan who, in a repeat of last year’s infamous box-off, was beaten by Dean Gardiner at super heavyweight.
Ireland’s young stars got some TV time with 19 year olds Michael Nevin at middleweight and Kieran Molloy at welterweight both claiming titles. Portlaoise puncher Nevin came back from a heavy first round knockdown to overcome Brett McGinty on a razor-tight split decision, while Oughterard’s Molloy defeated Eugene McKeever in a cagey affair, putting his range to good use and claiming the Best Boxer Award in the process.
Dublin boxing fans had something to smile about at lightweight, with George Bates securing an Elite title at the fourth attempt with a win over youngster Frankie Cleary in a brutal bloodbath which went to the cards after seven minutes when the Tallaght boxer suffered a severe cut to his right brow. Additionally, Kiril Afanasev looked destructive in defeating Kevin Sheehy in a proper heavyweight ding-dong.
The night opened with a little and large feel, Shannon Sweeney improved on her runner-up position last year with a close split-decision win over the relentless Carol Coughlan to claim the light flyweight crown while, in a rare heavyweight final, young star Nell Fox defeated Lisa Browne in a similar boxer v puncher affair.
It was also a night of returns, with former champions Lauren Hogan and Céire Smith back after missing the 2017 edition and claiming titles at bantamweight and flyweight respectively with wins over Amanda Loughlin and Niamh Earley.
In the men’s lighter weights, scrappy split-verdict fights saw Connor Jordan defeat Ricky Nesbitt to win the light flyweight crown while Evan Metcalfe won the bantamweight title versus Thomas McCarthy
Runner-up last year, Wayne Kelly gave an impressive performance to claim a first Elite title, defeating Belfast youngster Caoimhin Ferguson.
Another Belfast Caoimhin – Agyarko Hynes of Holy Trinity – had better luck, winning his short-notice tilt at light heavyweight with a win over Brian Kennedy in the final bout of the evening.
Rounding out the championships, there were walkover wins for Joanne Lambe, Aoife O’Rourke, and Conor Quinn who were the sole entrants in their class, while the withdrawal of Christina Desmond with a leg injury handed the middleweight title to youngster Aoife Burke.
National Elite Senior Championships
Saturday February 24th
48kg Shannon Sweeney (St. Anne’s) beat Carol Coughlan (Monkstown Dublin) 3-2
81+kg Nell Fox (Rathkeale) beat Lisa Browne (Aglish) 4-0
54kg Lauren Hogan (St Brigid’s Edenderry) beat Amanda Loughlin (St Michael’s D) 5-0
51kg Ceire Smith (Virginia/DCU) beat Niamh Earley (Ryston) 5-0
60kg Kelly Harrington (St Mary’s Dublin) beat Amy Broadhurst (Dealgan) 5-0
57kg Michaela Walsh (Monkstown Antrim) beaat Dervla Duffy (Mulhuddart) 5-0
91kg Kiril Afansev (Smithfield) beat Kevin Sheehy (St Francis) 5-0
91+kg Dean Gardiner (Clonmel) beat Martin Keenan (Rathkeale) 5-0
69kg Grainne Walsh (Sparticus) beat Ciara Ginty (Geesala) 5-0
69kg Kieran Molloy (Oughterard) beat Eugene McKeever (Holy Family Drogheda) 5-0
75kg Michael Nevin (Portlaoise) 4-1 Brett McGinty (Oakleaf) 4-1
49kg Conor Jordan (St Aidans) beat Ricky Nesbitt (Carrickmacross)
56kg Evan Metcalfe (Hyland Academy) beat Thomas McCarthy (Setanta) 3-2
64kg Wayne Kelly (Portlaoise) beat Caoimhin Ferguson (Clonard Antrim) 5-0
60kg George Bates (St. Mary’s Dublin) beat Francis Cleary (Ballina) 5-0
81kg Caoimhin Hynes (Holy Trinity) beat Brian Kennedy (St Mary’s Daingean) 3-2
52kg Conor Quinn (Clonard Antrim) Walkover
64kg Joanne Lambe (Carrickmacross) Walkover
75kg Aoife Burke (St Mary’s Dublin) Walkover
81kg Aoife O’Rourke (Castlerea) Walkover