Kicking off his third Commonwealth campaign – following first-round elimination and a bronze medal in 2010 and 2014 respectively – the Ballymena 75kger defeated Welsh youngster Kyran Jones in Australia .
The pair had been sparring in the lead-up to the Games, but Donnelly was just too good once the competitive action began.
His first international bout at middleweight, and the sole Irish fighter in Round of 32 action, the 29-year-old Olympian took a 4-1 split-decision over his larger southpaw rival to get the ball rolling Down Under.
The Antrim switch-hitter began fast, timing right hands well before withstanding a late charge from his Valleys opponent.
Donnelly will now face Gibrilla Kamara of Sierra Leone in the Last 16 on Sunday at around 4:30am. Kamara’s only previous big-tournament experience came in the 2015 African Games where he was stopped in the opening round of his opening fight by Congolese puncher Glory Lmusla – who coincidentally has since moved to Ireland and now boxes out of Maynooth.
There are more Irish in action tomorrow and the next Irish fighter competing will be Kurt Walker. The Lisburn bantamweight faces a tricky test versus home favourite Jack Bowen in the Round of 16 at around 3:00am. He will be swiftly followed by Belfast welter Aidan Walsh, in against Pakistani Gul Zaib in the Last 16 at about 4:30am.
All times are Irish time. The Gold Coast is ten hours ahead of Ireland.
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)