Team Ireland gear up for European Olympic qualifiers

Team Ireland are approaching the last lap of their training camp in Assisi, Italy ahead of the opening bell for the European Olympic qualifiers in Samsun, Turkey this weekend.

The Irish squad are training and sparring with the host nation, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Finland in Assisi.

The training camp finishes Thursday. Boxing begins Saturday in Samsun.

The top three males in each of the ten weight classes in Samsun qualify for Rio 2016. The finalists automatically go through and the beaten semi-finals box-off for the third spot.

The top two females in each of the three Olympic weight classes for women – flyweight, lightweight and middleweight – qualify for Rio.

The beaten semi-finalists will also box-off for positional places in the event of a boxer qualifying in Samsun and also reaching the qualification standard at the World Women’s Elite Championships, the last qualifier for females, in Kazakhstan next month.

36 Olympic berths are on offer in Samsun. 201 boxers will have qualified following the completion of the event, which is the final Continental qualifier following the competion of the Americas, Afrian and Asia/Oceania tournaments in March and April.

The World Women’s Championships yields 12 places and the last AIBA Open Boxing (AOB) tournament (for men) in Baku, Azerbaijan in June has 39 Rio tickets up for grabs.

The final qualifier – the World Series of Boxing (WSB) versus AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) clash at a date a host city to be confirmed in late June or July – yields 26 places.

The WSB v APB showdown – bouts will be over three, three minute rounds –  will expand the number of boxers qualified for the 31st Olympiad to 278 with the remaining eight places – five for men and three for women –  distributed through the Tripartite Commission (invitation places).

286 boxers – 250 men and 36 women – compete at each Games.

Meanwhile, World Elite champion Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes and Joe Ward, who have already qualified, are also in training camp in Assisi.

The Rio trio return home on Thursday while the rest of the Irish team decamp to Samsun to battle it out with Europe’s finest for places at the 31st Olympiad.

(Steven Donnelly, who convincingly won in the WSB in Poland last Saturday, has also qualified for the 2016 Olympics.)

Irish squad European Olympic qualifiers Samsun, Turkey April 7/17

Female

51kg Ceire Smith (Cavan)

60kg Katie Taylor (Bray)

75kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgans)

Male

52kg Brendan Irvine (St Pauls)

60kg David Oliver Joyce (AIBA Pro Boxing)

64kg Dean Walsh (St Joesphs/St Ibars)

75kg Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise)

91kg Darren O’Neill (Paulstown)

91+kg Dean Gardiner (Clonmel)

Team manager: Joe Hennigan

Coaches: Zaur Antia, Eddie Bolger, John Conlan

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(Also in training camp in Assisi)

49kg Paddy Barnes (Holy Family)

56kg Michael Conlan (Clonard)

81kg Joe Ward (AIBA Pro Boxing)

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