The path to Paris has been made clear for the dozen Irish Olympic hopefuls after today’s EU Games draw.
There are more than medals up for grabs in the latest installment of the Olympic-styled European competition, the boxers involved can also secure tickets to the Paris 2024 Olympics.
A total of 44 places on the plane Paris 2024 are available in Poland and will be filled over the next week and a bit.
The majority of Irish fighters competing will have to secure semi-final spots and bronze medals to reach the Olympics, although those competing at 75kg, 51kg and 92kg will have to make the decider.
Here we take a look at what is needed for each Irish fighter to secure passage to Paris.
Former underage standout and Paris scholar Daina Moorehouse is two wins away from graduating to an Olympian.
The Enniscorthy fighter has received a bye into the last 16 of the 50kg competition but is likely to need back-to-back big performances to make the 2024 Games. On her side of the draw are Tetyana Kob and Wassilla Lkhadiri, a Ukrainian who beat her via a split decision in May and a World Championship bronze medal winner.
The draw hasn’t been overly kind to Jennifer Lehane. The school teacher would most likely have to pass three tough tests if she is to represent Ireland at 54kg in Paris.
The DCU fighter faces a World Youth Champion in the round of 32 and would most likely be pitted against Antonia Giannakopoulou, a 2021 European Youth gold medal winner in the last 16. Come through that and 2014 World gold medal winner and five-time European medalist Stanimira Petrova should stand between her and Olympic qualification.
Tokyo Olympian Michaela Walsh also needs three wins but will face the biggest potential speed bump in her round of 32 clash this weekend. Get over European medal winner Olga Papatatou and the decorated Belfast fighter will be by far the fighter with the most pedigree on her side of the draw.
Such is Kellie Harrington’s talent and pedigree that she is favoured to qualify and win EU Games gold in the process.
However it won’t be plain sailing for the St Mary’s fighter.She begins her campaign against Mirsolva Jedinakova a European U-22 medal winner at 63kg. Barring an upset Elida Kocharyan, another underage European medal winner should await in the last 16. Progress past the Armenian, Harrington should renew acquaintances with Swede Agnus Alexiuson, who she beat three times previously, in the fight for lightweight Olympic status.
Amy Broadhurst is another that needs three wins to realise her Olympic dream. She gloves off her campaign at 66kg against a Serb she stopped en route to European gold at 63kg last year.
A tougher fight will await in the round of 16 with Lativian Beatris Rozentale, a European U22 medal winner, having received a bye. The quarter-final could prove tricky and the extremely talented boxer will have to be at her best to beat either Rosie Eccles, a fellow Commonwealth gold medal winner or experienced and decorated Italian Assunta Canfura.
Roscommon’s Aoife O’Rourke will need to win silver at least to step onto the plane to Paris, meaning the 75kg representative will have to reach the final.
After receiving a bye she will still only need three wins to achieve that. It’s a field full of fighters O’Rourke holds wins over. In fact, if she reaches the semi-final fight, she will be assured of a fight with a boxer she already overcame, be it the Polish, Turkish or Norwegian representative. The Olympic Galway fighter could face Cindy Ngamba in the last 16 and if she reached the quarters would expect to face Love Holgerson a Swede she holds two wins over.
Some heavy lifting will have to be done for the lightest of the male fighters in Poland. Sean Mari looks likely to start his campaign off against Martin Molina the reigning world champion and a 2022 European gold medal winner. If the Monkstown man gets the first of the three wins need he would most likely be up against a multi-medal winner from the Ukraine.
The first of three fights Jude Gallagher needs to win is against a Cuban adopted by Bulgaria, Javier Ibanez. Ukrainian underage standout Taras Bondarchuk would be fancied to provide last 16 opposition while European silver medalist Artur Bazyen of Armenia is also on the Commonwealth Games gold medal winners’ side of the 54kg draw.
There won’t be as many medal’s blinding Dean Clancy’s run to Paris. The Sligo native hasn’t got it easy but looks likely to be pitted against solid strong foes rather than medal ladden superstars.
He starts against Austrian Arsen Chabyan, a young fighter with no real international pedigree. Victory in that round of 32 clash would most likely set up a fight with an experienced Azerbaijanian, but one who has yet to win a major medal. Continue his EU Games journey and an Italian who holds a win over Brandon McCarthy could be the final Olympic hurdle.
If Dean Walsh is to reach Paris and complete the comeback of comebacks he will most likely have to avenge a recent Strandja defeat to Nikolia Terteryan and overcome a Worlds bronze medal winner from Albania. First the Wexford fighter must defeat Salvatore Callvarro this weekend.
Kelyn Cassidy is another who needs a final-four finish to become a first-time Olympian. The light heavyweight can get some advice from friend Gabriel Dossen for his opener, the Galway man holds two wins over the Waterford fighter’s first opponent, Mindaugas Gedminas.
Win that and he will face either a British Commonwealth Games medal winner or a French Olympic bronze medallist in the last 16. Come through what would be a tough fight and the World Championships quarter-finalist and it’s possible he could be faced with a decorated Italian.
European U22 medal winner Jack Marley has to reach the heavyweight final to qualify for the Olympics. He has been handed a bit of a redemption mission in his opener fighting the Greek he was cut by in the 2022 Europeans. Avenge that defeat and there would be nothing to fear in the quarters, but one of two European and World medal winners would await in the semis.