AmateurHeadline NewsLatestNewsTop News of The Day

THE LAY OF THE LAND – Which Irish boxers will go to the Olympic Qualifiers

Five Irish boxers go into 2024 with their Summer plans sorted.

Kellie Harrington, Dean Clancy, Michaela Walsh, Aoife O’Rourke and Jack Marley have all booked their places on the plane to Paris 2024.

The quintet qualified at the first attempt in Poland last Summer and will represent their country at the upcoming Games.

Hypothetically, there is room for eight more Irish fighters on the plane but there is some work to do to earn a ticket.

Qualification will have to be secured via international contests this year. There are two more chances to reach Paris, first via a World Qualification tournament in Italy next month while there will be a late May tournament in Thailand for those who fail in late February/early March.

Which Irish fighters across the eight weights remains to be seen. The Irish News reports that the infamous ‘assessments’ will take place solely at men’s light middleweight – although whether the other seven reigning champions in Olympic weights will automatically be sent is not clear.

That said, with two Olympic qualifiers on the schedule, chopping and changing between Italy and Thailand certainly may take place.

The High Performance are currently assessing a host of boxers and will make a final decision in the very near future.

Below we take a look at each weight and those in the selection frame.

Female Light Flyweight (50kg)
Daina Moorehouse’s domestic dominance across 2023 will most likely see her travel to Italy, wear the crest of Ireland and attempt to book her place on the plane to France this summer.

Going into 2023, the underage starlet had stiff competition from Catlin Fryers in particular but the fact she added another two Irish titles to her collection and represented Ireland in the European Games should put her firmly in qualifier pole.

Things could have been massively different for the Wicklow fighter if she had quit after going over on her ankle in a Fryers final last January.

However, she managed to finish the fight on one leg, securing the win before seeing off the challenge of Shannon Sweeney in November.

Both Sweeney and Fryers have international experience and would be deemed qualification-capable but from the outside looking in it looks like Moorehouse, who fell just one win short in Poland, will get another chance to qualify next month.

Female Bantamweight (54kg)
It appears that Jennifer Lehane and Niamh Fay will go head-to-head for the bantamweight qualification slot.

As the reigning champion DCU’s Lehane looks to be pole position but, as Fay found out to her team’s upset ahead of the European Games last year, an Irish title doesn’t always guarantee international selection.

It’s an interesting selection dilemma with a decorated underage graduate in Fay going up against a former karateka who has excelled and improved under High Performance guidance.

Female Featherweight (57kg)
Michaela Walsh QUALIFIED

Female Lightweight (60kg)
Kellie Harrington QUALIFIED

Female Welterweight (66kg)
The welterweight class is guaranteed to ensure a massive High-Performance selection headache, fighter heartache, and fan debate.

Team Ireland has world-class options at the weight and could pick any one of four decorated operators to attempt Olympic qualification.

Christina Desmond could be ruled out, considering she looks more at home outside the weight class, but any one of Gráinne Walsh, Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O’Rourke would not be just fancied to qualify, but would all be deemed medal hopes.

Walsh won both the 2023 and 2024 Irish National Elite Championships last year and admits she was upset not to be chosen for the European Games ahead of Broadhurst – who she defeated in a final last Spring.

The Offaly native appears in a strong position to get the nod this time around, especially with the fact the World Championship gold medal winners have been out with injuries – with Broadhurst also alluding online to political issues.

However, each boxer has a strong case for selection – O’Rourke defeated Walsh in her welterweight tournament debut in Poland last September – and each is more than capable of qualification.

Female Middleweight (75kg)
Aoife O’Rourke QUALIFIED

Male Flyweight (51kg)
Sean Mari has cemented his status as the big little man in Irish boxing over recent years. The talented Monkstown operator is massively favoured for qualifier selection. Frankly, it would be an enormous shock if he wasn’t given the chance to join clubmate Jack Marley on the plane to Paris 2024 in February.

Male Featherweight (57kg)
Some argue the current featherweight field is one of the most talent-packed domestic divisions EVER.

Among the names up for selection are a European silver and Commonwealth gold medal winner, an U22 European medal winner, another Commonwealth gold medal winner, former champions, International operators, underage standouts and so on.

Having emerged through a field that included Adam Hession, Dylan Eagleson, Davey Joyce, Sean Purcell and Paddy McShane to claim the National Elite title at the weight in November, Jude Gallagher looks best placed to be selected.

The Eric Donovan-mentored, Eddie Hearn-fancied feather proved his international credentials in winning Commonwealth Games gold and doing so in sensational fashion. He was selected for the European Games ahead of then champion Loonam but was edged in his opening bout by the eventual gold medallist, injury hampering his chances.

Male Light Welterweight (63.5kg)

Male Light Middleweight (71kg)
Like featherweight, the light middleweight class is another full of talent and one that has a little more by way of debate about it .

Comeback kid Dean Walsh is the reigning champion and goes into 2024 as a back-to-back Irish title winner. However, the fact Aidan Walsh wasn’t in the field in navigated to retain his title in November leaves room for the Olympic medal winner to argue his case.

Jon McConnell is also at the weight but it’s understood selection is between the Walsh’s and 2024 National runner-up Eugene McKeever, with assessments due to take place shortly.

Male Light Heavyweight (80kg)
Selection here would look to be a straight shootout between Kelyn Cassidy and Gabriel Dossen and Cassidy seems to be the one with more bullets in his gun. The Waterford talent appears to have one foot on the plane to the next qualifiers considering his recent form.

The Déise light heavy has established himself as a world-level operator at the weight. He came the closest any fighter ever came to qualification without getting over the line last summer.

Cassidy was up going into the final round versus Ukraine’s Oleksandr Khyzniak – an Olympic silver medalist, World champion and multiple European champion – only for a point deduction and count to deny him the win, a medal, and a place at Paris 2024.

Such was his display in that fight, the European Games and the most recent World Championships many suggest he should be a cert to come through the next qualification tournament.

Although, he first has to ensure selection. Gabriel Dossen is the main rival for the slot but the fact Cassidy defeated the European gold medal winner in a historic and classic National Elite Championship final in November suggests he is the current #1 in Ireland.

Male Heavyweight (92kg)

Male Super Heavyweight (+92kg)
Ireland didn’t send a super heavyweight to the last qualifiers. Gytis Lisinskas of Celtic Eagles was the reigning champion at the time of the Games but didn’t travel with the team.

It remains unsure as to whether the High Performance will select a big man for the next qualifier but if they are looking for someone to send at the weight Martin McDonagh’s hand is raised highest.

The Crumlin super heavyweight has exploded onto the scene over the last 12 months winning four Irish titles in his first 10 fights. He confirmed himself the best 92kg+ boxer in the country when he added National Elite honours to the Novice, Under-22, and Intermediate National titles he won previously, in November.

The big man has been away with the High Performance on training camps since, alongside Willie John McCartan and rumour suggests he has impressed.


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years