Ulster Elite Senior Championships – FINALS PREVIEW


One of the most famous nights on the Irish boxing calendar takes place on Saturday.

The finals of the Ulster Elite Championships are back again at the historic Ulster Hall with 11 deciders due to play out in the atmospheric venue.

While this year’s competition is not as high-profile as the last edition – which had places at the Commonwealth Games on the line – there is still a big buzz about.

Some top names, such as Kurt Walker and Brendan Irvine, did not enter but the list of participants was bigger and more talent packed than many editions over the past few years and a full house is expected on Saturday night.

Below Irish-Boxing.com goes through all 11 finals match-ups to get you well versed ahead of the big night.

Women’s Light Flyweight – 48kg
Chloe Fleck (Canal) v Donna Barr (Illies GG)
Fleck finished runner-up to Kristina O’Hara last time out and will be hoping to go one better here. In Donegal’s Barr she faces a fighter who has already won her biggest battle having returned to the ring following 30 months out with a number of injuries. Irish international Barr beat Emma Feeney in her comeback semi-final last week.

Men’s Light Flyweight – 49kg
Rory Baird (Ederney) v Jack O’Neill (Corpus Christi)
Two teenagers stepping into the adult ranks go up against each other in the first men’s final. Belfast’s O’Neill scored a notable win over Diarmuid Toland in the semis last week while Fermanagh’s Baird, who is studying Biology in Queens University, received a bye.

Women’s Flyweight – 51kg
Caitlin Fryers (Immaculata) v Carly McNaul (Holy Family GG)
Fryers entered the adult ranks in December, taking the Irish Intermediate title following an outstanding underage career in which she claimed European Youth silver, World Youth bronze, and European Junior bronze. The Mac Lady goes in at the deep end here though against McNaul who took silver at the Commonwealth Games last year and is a noted puncher.

Men’s Flyweight – 52kg
Ricky Nesbitt (Holy Family Drogheda)
has been awarded the title on a walkover and will box on the night in a special contest versus Diarmuid Toland.

Women’s Bantamweight – 54kg
No Entries

Women’s Featherweight – 57kg
No Entries

Men’s Featherweight – 57kg
John Paul Hale (Star) v Colm Murphy (St George’s)
The Belfast pair will get very familiar with each other as they will meet in the Irish U22 bantamweight (56kg) final next week. Both teenagers are moving into the adult ranks and scored big wins in the semis. Hale dominated reigning bantamweight champ Eamon McNally while Commonwealth Youth bronze medallist Murphy overcame Irish Intermediate and Ulster Elite runner-up Conor Kerr. The two met previously, in 2017, with Hale edging that encounter.

Women’s Lightweight – 60kg
No Entries

Men’s Lightweight – 60kg
Dominic Bradley (Errigal) v Barry McReynolds (Holy Trinity)
Two top underage stars, Bradley captained the team at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2017 having previously won European Schoolboys bronze in Dublin in 2013. McReynolds won silver here at the weight below and followed it up with another silver in 2014.

Men’s Light Welterweight – 63kg
Dylan Duffy (Pegasus) v James McGivern (St George’s)
Two good friends going up against each other again. McGivern won when they met in the semi-finals last time while on a run that eventually led to Commonwealth bronze. Both now at light welterweight following the recalibration of classes, it will be interesting to see who this change suits most.

Women’s Light Welterweight – 64kg
No Entries

Women’s Welterweight – 69kg
No Entries

Men’s Welterweight – 69kg
Eugene McKeever (Holy Family Drogheda) v Tiernan Duffy (Clonard)
Irish Elite runner-up McKeever will be looking to set himself up for another charge at the title in one of the hottest divisions currently but will first have to overcome young gun Tiernan Duffy who is stepping into the adult ranks and up from 64kg.

Women’s Middleweight – 75kg
Caroline Connelly (Mourne GG)
has been awarded the title on a walkover.

Men’s Middleweight – 75kg
Fearghus Quinn (Camlough) v Brett McGinty (Oakleaf)

The consensus fight of the night. Armagh hardman Quinn has been edged out more times than you could count while Donegal’s McGinty has also been a perennial runner-up since moving into the Senior ranks. Both were beaten in the finals of the last Ulsters, with Quinn edged on a split by Olympian Steven Donnelly while McGinty was beaten by Aidan Walsh down at welter. Two powerful, come-forward punchers, expect them to meet in the middle of the ring and stay exactly there for the full nine minutes and a bruised champion will emerge.

Women’s Light Heavyweight – 81kg
No Entries

Men’s Light Heavyweight – 81kg
Paul McCullagh (St John Bosco Belfast) v Noel Donnelly (Holy Family Drogheda)
Young McCullagh has slimmed down to a dangerous light heavy and comes in quite highly rated by those in-the-know. Drogheda’s Donnelly comes from the other direction having competed at middleweight in the previous edition of the tournament.

Women’s Heavyweight – +81kg
No Entries

Men’s Heavyweight – 91kg
Michael Erpelding (Holy Family GG) v Karol Dlugosz (Scorpion)
Dlugosz was forced to withdraw from the light heavyweight final last time and will be extremely motivated here. The punching Pole scored a knockout in the semis and took Ulster HP chief John Conlan to task afterwards. Erpelding was a late starter in the sport but claimed the Ulster Intermediate title last year at light heavy.

Men’s Super Heavyweight – +91kg
Joe Joyce (Erne) v Stephen McMonagle (Holy Trinity)

A repeat of their semi-final last time. Joyce won that night, and took the title on a walkover, but eligibility meant that it was McMonagle who headed to the Commonwealth Games in Australia. Both will be bang up for it.

Doors open at 7:30pm on Saturday night with first bell scheduled for 8:00pm

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: [email protected]