Ireland and Lithuania met in a test match at the National Stadium today with the clock ticking down toward next month’s crucial European Olympic qualifiers in Turkey.
Both nations are building up toward the final Continental qualifiers which begin on April 9th in Samsun.
Olympic champion Katie Taylor met current Elite bantam champion Kurt Walker and two-time Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes was in against current Irish Elite champion Stephen McKenna this afternoon.
Steven Donnelly, who, along with Barnes, Michael Conlan and Joe Ward has qualified for Rio 2016, met Lithuania’s European Elite welter champion Evaldas Petrauskas.
Three-time EU champion David Oliver Joyce and Ireland’s Elites were also firing on all cylinders at the home of Irish boxing.
Special Olympics Ireland, who had done the country proud with numerous medals won at Olympic and international level, were guests of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) today and former WBO World middleweight champion Andy Lee, Ireland’s only boxer at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, was back at ringside as a venue he graced as a St Francis BC southpaw.
The French women’s Elite team. who meet Ireland at the National Stadium on Saturday, also attended today’s test.
Irish interim head coach Zaur Antia said he was very pleased with the training camp and the quality of today’s test.
The Ireland versus Lithuania training camp finishes tomorrow at the National Stadium.
Team Ireland depart for their final training camp in Assisi, Italy next Monday.
“We enjoyed some tremendous match ups against a talented and strong Lithuania side today amid an excellent atmosphere at the National Stadium, said IABA President Pat Ryan.
“The Irish squad looks sharp and focussed. The Assisi training camp is the next stop for the team. That will complete preparations for Turkey which is the first big tournament in what promises to be a very eventful year for our sport.
“The Irish Athletic Boxing Association thanks Lithuania for today’s match and wishes them the very best of luck in the Olympic qualifiers. We would also like to thank everyone for attending today .”
No scores were kept in today’s match. Lithuania have been training with Ireland for the last seven days at the National Stadium.
Rio 2016 Olympians Barnes, Conlan and Ward will take part in the Assisi training camp, while Donnelly is slated to box in the World Series of Boxing for the Hussars of Poland next month.
Following Samsun there will be three final qualiers for Rio; the World Women’s Elite Championships in Kazakhstan in May, a World qualifier (for males) in Baku, Azerbaijan in June and “last chance saloon”, the World Series of Boxing versus AIBA Pro Boxing qualifier at a date and venue to be confirmed in June or early July.