Two medals banked but more controversy as Walsh bows out

Roscommon middleweight Aoife O’Rourke and Antrim flyweight Brendan Irvine assured Ireland of at least two bronze medals at the 72nd Strandja multi-nations in Sofia, Bulgaria today.

O’Rourke beat Sennur Demir on a 4-1 split decision and Irvine followed that up with a unanimous verdict over Kosovo’s Bashkim Bejoku.

Big performances from both Irish fighters with O’Rourke, who won bronze at the 2020 Strandja tournament, back amongst the medals at Europe’s oldest multi-nation competition.

Earlier in the day Michaela Walsh had to settle for a top-eight finish after losing to Russia’s Karina Tazabekova in the quarter-finals in Sofia.

Walsh found the target with the majority of the cleaner punches throughout today’s encounter but the judges leaned toward the opposition on a 3-2 split decision.

One judge scored the fight 30-27 to Walsh, along with a 29-28 score. Three judges scored it 29-28 to Tazabekova who is now guaranteed at least bronze.

It follows Kellie Harrington’s controversail exit to Russian opposition at the same stage the day previous.

Meanwhile, the semi-finals will be decided tomorrow with the finals pencilled in for Saturday.

Courtesy of the IABA

Strandja Multi-Nations Sofia, Bulgaria

February 22nd

Last 16 and 32

57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) beat Wildad Bertal (Mauritius) 4-1

60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) beat Aneta Rygielska (Poland) 5-0

63kg George Bates (Ireland) lost to Aadkhuja Muydunkujaev (Uzbekistan) 0-5

91kg Kiril Afanasev (Ireland) lost to Mujahit Ilyas (Turkey) 1-4

February 23rd

Last 16

51kg Niamh Earley (Ireland) lost to Wassila Likhardiri (France) 0-5

81kg Emmet Brennan (Ireland) lost to Stephan Hrekul (Ukraine) 0-5

75kg Aofie O’Rourke (Ireland) beat Dobromiro Georgieve (Bulgaria) RSC2

57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) beat Yodgoroy Miraeva (Uzbekistan) 5-0

February 24

Last 16

60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) lost to Nune Asatarian (Russia) 1-4

91+kg Gytis Lisinskas (Ireland) lost to Singh Manjeet (India) 0-4

February 25


52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) beat Bashkim Bejoku (Kosovo) 5-0

57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) lost to Karina Tazabekova (Russia) 2-3

75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Ireland) beat Sennur Demir (Turkey) 4-1

February 26


52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) v Dan Aenov (Bulgaria)

75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Ireland) v Naoimi Graham (USA)

Irish squad

51kg Niamh Earley (Ryston BC)
52kg Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s BC) (Bronze at least)
57kg Michaela Walsh (Monkstown BC)
60kg Kellie Harrington (St Mary’s BC)
63kg George Bates (St Mary’s BC)
75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Castlerea BC) (Bronze, at least)
81kg Emmett Brennan (Dublin Docklands BC)
91kg Kirill Afanasev (Smithfield BC)
91+kg Gytis Lisinskas (Celtic Eagles BC)

Team Manager:Bernard Dunne

Coaches: Zauri Antia, John Conlan, Dmitry Dmitruk

Physio: Lorcan McGee

Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 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: