The draw was made yesterday morning for the 2018 National Elite Senior Championships which begin in Dublin this Friday night.
It promises to be an exciting and wide-open tournament and certainly different to previous iterations, with just eight of 2017’s champions featuring across the 20 weights and ‘only’ five Elite senior international medalists – Dean Walsh, Kenneth Okungbowa, Kelly Harrington, Grainne Walsh, and Christina Desmond.
This year’s championships have received criticism from some quarters over the past 24 hours, with some arguing there is a lack of quality (We strongly disagree – make sure to check out our full preview tomorrow).
While the entry list is shorter, there are plenty of factors at play – the upcoming Commonwealth Games and European U22 Championships, the lack of major Men’s international tournaments in 2018, unfortunate injuries and illnesses, and a focus on building toward the second National Elite Championships which will take place in November to facilitate crucial Olympic qualifiers.
Below we re-cap who is missing out on this month’s action.
Men’s Light Flyweight – 49kg
Last years two finalists – winner Blaine Dobbins (St Joseph’s) and runner-up Darryl Moran (Illies GG) – are both absent from the entry list.
Men’s Flyweight – 52kg
Rio Olympian and reigning champion Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s) is out as he targets the Commonwealth Games. Conor Quinn is the only entrant this year in a field which doesn’t feature the likes of Intermediate champ Kane Marshall (Emerald), or either of Belfast duo Jason McKay (Holy Family) and TJ Waite (Ormeau Road).
Men’s Bantamweight – 56kg
Reigning champion Kurt Walker (Canal) is focused on the Commonwealth Games, while U22 and Intermediate champ Jordan Moore (Glasnevin) does not enter. Also absent is Ulster Elite Senior runner-up Conor Kerr (Glengormley).
Men’s Lightweight – 60kg
The Commonwealth Games-bound James McGivern (St George’s) is out, as is former National Elite 49kg champion Stevie McKenna (Old School). Plenty of other young guns also have not entered, including U22 champ Patryck Adamus (Drimnagh) and Intermediates winner Terry McEntee – while Ulster duo Gerard Matthews (St Pauls) and Gary McKenna (Old School), both semi-finalists last year, are others who miss out.
Men’s Light Welterweight – 64kg
Reigning champion Sean McComb (Holy Trinity) does not enter due to the Commonwealth Games and is joined on the sidelines by Intermediate and U22 champ Kenneth Doyle (Monkstown) who is preparing or the European U22s next month – alongside Paddy Donovan (OLOL) who, after considering entering, has elected to focus on the Europeans. Entrants in 2017, Patrick Linehan (St Mary’s) and Bernaldo Marime (Holy Trinity) are not involved this year.
Men’s Welterweight – 69kg
Belfast speedster Aidan Walsh (Monkstown) is going to the Commonwealths. Intermediate champ Michael Avetisian (Glasnevin) also does not enter, nor does Conor McGregor sparring partner Tiernan Bradley (Sacred Heart) or Conor Ivors (St Francis). Galway’s Gabriel Dossen (Olympic) is another young star playing the long game, with the 18-year-old talent focusing on the European U22s and the 2019 Irish Seniors this coming November.
Men’s Middleweight – 75kg
A weight in flux. Reigning champion Emmet Brennan (Glasnevin) is out with injury, while runner-up Stephen Broadhurst (Dealgan) does not enter. Rio Olympian Steven Donnelly (All Saints) is headed to the Commonwealth Games, and there are a number of other notable absentees including former underage medal machine John Joyce (St Michael’s Athy), Intermediate champion Thomas O’Toole (Celtic Eagles), Seniors regular Fearghus Quinn (Carnlough), and U22s runner-up Christopher O’Reilly (Holy Family Drogheda).
Men’s Light Heavyweight – 81kg
Amateur boxing legend Joe Ward (Moate) is out due to World Series of Boxing commitments, while Conor Wallace (Holy Family Drogheda) has the Commonwealth Games. Intermediate champ Jason Clancy (Ballnacarrow) is another who doesn’t enter, while long-time boxing servant Sean Allen (Arklow) has retired.
Men’s Heavyweight – 91kg
Reigning champion Darren O’Neill (Paulstown) is out with a hand injury and will reconsider his future after his upcoming surgery. Ulster champ Dee Sullivan (Emerald) is headed to the Commonwealth Games. U22 runner-up James Clarke is also out, as is former top underage fighter Cormac Long (Rathkeale)
Men’s Super Heavyweight – +91kg
Stephen McMonagle (Holy Trinity) is off to the Commonealth Games, while the man who beat him in the Ulsters – Joe Joyce (Erne) – does not enter. Youngster Martin J Mongan (Ennis), crowned U22 champ last month, also does not enter, nor does Cian O’Shaughnessy (Rathkeale).
Women’s Light Flyweight – 48kg
Reigning champion Kristina O’Hara (St John Bosco) is out with Commonwealth Games commitments, and Chloe Fleck (Canal) is another name absent from the entry list.
Women’s Flyweight – 51kg
Donna Barr (Two Towns) is a late withdrawal with injury while reigning champion Carly McNaul (Ormeau Road) is headed to the Commonwealths
Women’s Bantamweight – 54kg
Reigning champ Terry Mullarney (Ballyhaunis) will not defend her crown, while U22 champ Kellie McLoughlin (Drimnagh) also does not enter.
Women’s Featherweight – 57kg
Former champ Moira McElligott (St Michaels Athy) will not attempt to reclaim her crown. Intermediate champ Emma O’Neill (St Nicholas) and U22 winner Shauna Blaney (Navan) also do not enter.
Women’s Lightweight – 60kg
With the Commonwealth Games approaching, 2014 bronze medalist Alanna Nihell (Eastside/British Army) has not entered, nor has last year’s runner-up Shauna O’Keefe (Clonmel) or Intermediate champion Siobhan Ni Laoire (Corpus Christi).
Women’s Light Welterweight – 64kg
Neither last year’s runner-up Emma Agnew (Dealgan) or Cheyanne O’Neill (Athlone) enter this year, with Joanne Lambe claiming the title via walkover.
Women’s Welterweight – 69kg
A comparatively healthy weight, with five entrants.
Women’s Middleweight – 75kg
Ulster champ Sarah Close (Holy Trinity) does not enter, leaving a straight final between major medalist Christina Desmond and young star Aoife Burke.
Women’s Light Heavyweight – 81kg
Neither of last year’s finalists – winner Leona Houlihan (Crumlin) or runner-up Caroline Connolly (Mourne) – enter. This gives Aoife O’Rourke – who has won the Intermediate 69kg and U22 75kg titles in recent months – a walkover
Women’s Heavyweight – +81kg
For the first time in years, we have a women’s heavyweight final with Lisa Browne taking on Nell Fox.