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National Under-18 Open Competition – FINALS PREVIEW

This Friday night at the National Stadium will see the conclusion of the Under 18s Open Competition.

The first of two National tournaments at Youth level this year, Friday’s finals will factor into selection for the Men’s and Women’s European Youth Championships this coming April in Italy.

A high-quality field will be competing at the home of Irish boxing, with national champions and major international medalists galore.’s look ahead to all 18 bouts below.

Men’s Light Flyweight – 49kg
Conor Leneghan (St Paul’s Antrim) v Jude Gallagher (Two Castles)
Gallagher missed out on a medal at 46kg at the Europan Juniors last year on a split-decision. The Tyrone teen defeated Adam Hession, last years U18 46kg champion in the semis. Belfast boy Leneghan received a bye straight to the final. Last year Leneghan finished runner-up at Junior 2 level

Men’s Flyweight – 52kg
Dean Clancy (Ballinacarrow) v Owen McDonagh (Leeside Lough)
A silver medalist at last year’s European Juniors, Clancy stormed to the final with wins over Sean Kelly and John Cowman. Runner-up last year, McDonagh did a Belfast double, eliminating Gerry Owens and Kian Bittles – who himself had beaten the touted Terry O’Donoghue.

Men’s Bantamweight – 56kg
John Paul Hale (Star) v Brandon McCarthy (St. Michael’s Athy)
A semi-finalist last year at 52kg, Hale reached the final courtesy of a stoppage win over Fionan Rodgers. Captain of the Irish Juniors at the European Championships last year, McCarthy at the weekend scored a semi-final win over Commonwealth Youth bronze medalist Colm Murphy

Men’s Lightweight – 60kg
Sean Dempsey (Sacre Coeur) v Alex Higgins (Fr. Horgan’s)
Junior 2 runner-up last year at 63kg and a competitor at 64kg in the U18s, Dempsey has moved down in weight since and the Wexford youngster edged out last year’s 52kg champion David Oliver Joyce on a split in the semis. Higgins has burst onto the scene like a hurricane and defeated last years 56kg runner-up Seamus Mongan in the semis.

Men’s Light Welterweight – 64kg
Pierce O’Leary (Dublin Docklands) v Callum Walsh (Riverstown)
Potentially the fight of the night. Big Bang O’Leary was forced to cede a walkover in the final last year. He has blasted his way to the final here, but is faced with Cork’s Walsh – European Junior gold medalist at 60kg last year – and a fighter who has also shown serious punching power in this tournament.

Men’s Welterweight – 69kg
Christian Preston (Glasnevin) v Edward Donovan (O.L.O.L)
The younger brother of Paddy Donovan won European Junior gold in 2016 but didn’t enter the U18s last year due to being at the same weight as his sibling. Now up at welter, he faces Preston in a rematch of their 2017 Junior 2 final, a bout edged on a 3-2 split by Donovan.

Men’s Middleweight – 75kg
Jack Lawlor (Thurles) v Kane Tucker (Holy Family GG)
Tucker claimed silver at the Commonwealth Youths last year and continues to grow into the weight, winning his sole bout in this tournament by stoppage. Lawlor has also won his only bout in the competition by stoppage and has set up a rematch of the pair’s Junior 2 final last year – won by Tucker on a unanimous decision.

Men’s Light Heavyweight – 81kg
Adam Dempsey (Achill) v Edward Barrett (Olympic Galway)
Denied by Tucker in two consecutive Irish championships, Dempsey is now up in weight and the islander defeated Oran McNaughton to reach the final. Here he faces Edward Barrett, with the Galway teen having himself jumped up from 70kg where he was Junior 2 champion last year.

Men’s Heavyweight – 91kg
Michael Walsh (Holy Family Drogheda) v Tommy Gavin (Darndale)
Runner-up last year, Dubliner Gavin beat Pierre Stokes in the semis. In Walsh he faces a fighter coming up in weight having been the 80kg Junior 2 champion last year. Here Walsh beat Owen McDonagh in the semis on a 4-1 split – the same verdict Gavin received against Stokes.

Men’s Super Heavyweight – 91+kg
Zack Brennan (Belfast Kronk) v Ownie McDonagh (St. Annes)
Big man Brennan received a bye straight to the final. He faces Ownie McDonagh, the Junior 2 runner-up at 80kg last year. The Mayo teen defeated Edward McDonagh, last year’s Junior 1 champ, in the semis.

Women’s Light Flyweight – 48kg
Daina Moorehouse (Enniskerry) v Ciara Brien (St. Davids)
European Junior champion Moorehouse steps up to Youth level and will face former Irish team-mate Brien – who won bronze at 46kg in the same championships in Bulgaria last year.

Women’s Flyweight – 51kg
Orinta Ringyte (Riverstown) v Caitlyn Fryers (Immaculata)
European Youth silver and World Youth bronze medalist Fryers embarks on her second year in the age group, moving up in weight for these Championships. Here the Mac Woman will face reigning champion Ringyte, who edged Catherine Blaney on a 3-2 split in the semis.

Women’s Bantamweight – 54kg
Mary Geraghty (Baldoyle) v Mai Nguyen (Maynooth)
A straight final, Dubliner Geraghty won the Junior 2 and the Youths last year and was part of the team that went to the World Championships. Nguyen is a semi-finalist at both Girl 4 and Girl 5 level.

Women’s Featherweight – 57kg
Ellie Preston (Baldoyle) v Dearbhla Rooney (Sean McDermott)
A semi-finalist last year at Junior level, Preston defeated Abbie Doyle in the semis at the weekend. Girl 5 champion back in 2016, and defeated Zara Breslin in her semi.

Women’s Lightweight – 60kg
Aoife Ginty (Geesala) v Tiffany O’Reilly (Curragh)
Younger sister of Youth Olympic silver medalist and reigning Elite Senior champion Ciara, Ginty traded wins with O’Reilly last year in Junior competitions and they will rekindle their rivalry here.

Women’s Light Welterweight – 64kg
Danielle McSweeney (Riverstown) v Evelyn Igharo (Clann Naofa)
A straight final, McSweeney was Junior 1 runner-up last year at 57kg. Igharo has plenty of international experience, and won two Irish Junior titles last year, both via first-round knockout.

Women’s Welterweight – 69kg
Nadine Dermody (Raging Bull) v Elice Elliott (South Meath)
Dermody claimed the Junior 2 66kg title last year, while Elliott took the 70kg crown in the same competition. They then met at 69kg in the semi-finals of the Youths, with Dermody coming out on top. In this competition, Carlow fighter Dermody edged Roisin Gannon in the semis on a 3-2 split, while it was a 4-1 verdict for Elliott over Eileen McDonald

Women’s Middleweight – 75kg
Lauren Kelly of St Brigids Edenderry is the only entrant and has been awarded a walkover.

Women’s Light Heavyweight – 81kg
Sophie Thornton of Togher is the only entrant and has been awarded a walkover.

Women’s Heavyweight – 81+kg
Alannah Nolan (Ballyhaunis) v Alisha Finney (Ballybrack)
Another straight final. Mayo’s Nolan was 85kg champion at Junior 1 level last year, while Dubliner Finney looks to be a relative newcomer.


Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: