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Tie-Break Heartache for Extremely Unfortunate Grainne Walsh

Grainne Walsh’s Olympic Dream has been put back on hold after she suffered an extremely unfortunate even strange defeat in Italy today.

The Offally fighter came out on the wrong side of a ‘Tiebreak’ scorecard after renewing acquaintances with old foe Aneta Rygielska in the Olympic Qualifying quarter-finals.

Heartbreakingly Walsh finished the bout ahead on two cards and drawn on three, but when the judges who scored it level were asked to pick a winner they all leaned the way of the Pole.

The defeat is made all the more heartbreaking by the fact at one stage in the fight the St Mary’s Tallaght fighter looked to have put both feet on the plane to Paris 2024.

The Irish 66kg fighter lost the first round 3-2 but dominated the second round to such an extent she saw her opponent docked a point and scored a standing eight.

Yet, somehow she only went into the final round ahead by just one on four cards. Still, it looked enough to see her through, but Rygielska manged to do enough in the final round to level up three cards, despite the point deduction, and eventually progressed at Walsh’s expense.

Walsh will now switch her focus to the final qualifier, which takes place in Thailand in May, although the likes of Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O’Rourke will also have 66kg Olympic hopes.

Walsh was the aggressor in the open round, pressing and looking for action. Her opponent on the other hand was content to work off the back foot and three of five scoring judges preferred her hit and move style.

Like she did in her opening bout the Tullamore native ramped up the aggression levels in the second and put it on the Pole. The pressure told and after being forced to hold on a number of occasions, the referee docked the blue corner fighter a point.

Things seemed to get better for the Irish 66kg, as she then scored a brilliant right hand that forced the referee to administer a standing eight.

Somehow three judges still gave the Polish fighter the stanza, and Walsh went into the last ahead by a point on four scorecards when it appeared she should have been in the clear.

Walsh continued to press the action in the final round but Rygielska showed her skillset and picked some lovely shots off the backfoot in another close round.

Both hands went in the air post the final bell as both felt they won it, but after a long break and some ring-side maths, it was Rygielska who got the nod.

Two more Irish fighters will attempt to qualify for Paris later today in Jude Gallagher and Kelyn Cassidy.

Turkmenistan’s Shukur Ovezov stands between featherweight Gallagher and his Olympic dream.

The Tyrone fighter will contest against his fellow emerging talent in Bout 6 of Ring B’s Evening Session, at 7:15pm, Irish time.

Light heavyweight Cassidy finds himself one win from becoming an Olympian for the second time in under a year. The Waterford southpaw, who came agonizingly close to qualifying via the European Games, hasn’t been handed an easy route, as he boxes 2023 IBA World Champion, Nurbek Oralbay of Kazakhstan.

1st Olympic World Qualifier Team:

50kg Daina Moorehouse, Enniskerry BC, Wicklow

54kg Jennifer Lehane, DCU Boxing Club, Dublin

66kg Grainne Walsh, St. Mary’s BC, Tallaght, Dublin

51kg Sean Mari, Monkstown BC, Dublin

57kg Jude Gallagher, Two Castles ABC, Tyrone

71kg Aidan Walsh, Holy Family GG BC, Belfast

80kg Kelyn Cassidy, Saviours Crystal, Waterford

92+kg Martin McDonagh, Crumlin BC, Dublin


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