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Ticket to Tokyo – Brendan Irvine secures Olympic qualification

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Brendan Irvine became the first Irish fighter to qualify for the 34th Olympiad.

‘The Wee Roster’ secured a ticket to Tokyo 2020 with victory in the Copper Box Arena, London tonight.

The St Paul’s fighter timed his return from injury and form perfectly and produced the kind of display that saw some herald him as a genuine medal hope.

Irvine was a class above as he defeated Hungarian Istvan Szaka with relative ease.

As a result the Belfast fly and Rio 2016 competitor is now a two-time Olympian.

Istvan came out flying in the first round. The Hungarian pressing forward and swinging in shots. He landed one big right hand but Irvine took it well.

The Belfast fighter was also the calmer and more clinical in the chaos and picked a variety well time shots and all bar one of the five judges gave him the round.

Irvine’s class shone through in the second. He produced every shot in the book to bamboozle his foe and really began to insert his dominance.

Indeed, as the round drew to a close he was backing up the tough Hungarian with some clean and heavy shots.

The Irish team captain seemed to treat the last round like a sparring round. He sat in the pocket more regular and worked the body and head of his opponent. To his credit the diminutive Hungarian kept coming, but he did well to see the final bell as Irvine landed at will.

Kurt Walker could join Irvine on the plane if he secures victory later tonight.

Click HERE to see Day 3 fight times and for information on how to watch each fight.

Irish squad

(Olympic qualification standard in brackets)


52kg Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s, Antrim) Cpt (Top 8)

57kg Kurt Walker (Canal, Antrim) (Top 8)

63kg George Bates (St Mary’s, Dublin) (Top 8)

69kg Aidan Walsh (Monkstown, Antrim) (Top 6)

75kg Michael Nevin (Portlaoise, Laois) (Top 6)

81kg Emmet Brennan (Dublin Docklands) (Top 6)

91kg Kiril Afanasev (Smithfield, Dublin) (Top 4)

91+kg Dean Gardiner (Clonmel, Tipperary) (Top 4)


51kg Carly McNaul (Ormeau Road, Belfast) (Top 6)

57kg Michaela Walsh (Monkstown, Antrim) (Top 6)

60kg Kellie Harrington (St Mary’s, Dublin) (Top 6)

69kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgan’s, Cork, Garda BC) (Top 5)

75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Castlerea, Roscommon) (Top 4)

High-Performance Director: Bernard Dunne

Coaches: Zaur Antia, John Conlan, Dmitry Dimitruk


Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: