The pound-for-pound Irish counties rankings

It’s a quiet few days in terms of Irish boxing news, so we decided we’d throw together something a bit different during the down time.

Below we have ranked all 32 counties in Ireland in terms of their boxing pedigree. The rankings are based mostly on contemporary achievements.

It’s a fun topic debate and we don’t intend to offend any of the Irish boxing family with the rankings – and we’d be very interested to hear our readers’ suggestions as to who is too highly or lowly ranked, and maybe even what your Top 5/Top 10/Top 32 is.

We’ve mentioned plenty of boxers here but there are, of course, many many many more. Due to space, especially with the larger counties, dozen of boxers are not listed. It’s nothing personal, indeed the fact that this writer could produce 2,000 words and 150 names after last night’s festivities is a minor Christmas miracle in itself!

So, let the countdown begin!

32 – Longford
The midland county is going through something of a quiet spell at the moment, but there is still a growing scene with Rudiarius BC, Lanesboro BC, and the new Connolly BC.

31 – Fermanagh
The first Ulster county to feature and is undergoing a slow spell at the top level, but there are plenty of foundations being laid by the likes of Garrison and Erne.

30 – Carlow
Another Leinster county currently experiencing a quiet spell, although Carlow IT run a hugely popular club at intervarsity level.

29 – Leitrim
There are plenty of clubs in Ireland’s least populated county, with Ballinamore, Sean McDermott’s, Drumsna, and St Pat’s Dromhaire – which was once the club of European Schoolboys gold medalist Jordan Myers.

28 – Sligo
Yeats Country has big boxing history with the Reynolds Brothers, Alan and Stephen, ruling the Irish heavyweight scene in the late 90s and early 2000s, while Vinny Feeney had plenty of success in the pros. Currently, as mentioned above, Jordan Myers won European Schoolboys gold in 2013, and there is plenty of talent coming through as well at Ballinacarrow BC among others.

27 – Down
Last year’s Senior Elite runner-up and High Performance Unit member Conor Wallace boxes out of St Monica’s in Newry.

26 – Clare
The hugely successful Ennis BC is home to the big men, with cousins Martin Jim and Martin John Mongan winning 5 Irish titles between them this year. From a more historical standpoint, former world light heavyweight champion Mike McTigue came from Kilnamona.

25 – Kerry
The Kingdom is the home of reigning featherweight champion Moira McElligott, who boxes out of St Michael’s Athy in Kildare.

24 – Roscommon
Former two-time European champion Matt Macklin has plenty of roots in Roscommon, while recent Irish super middleweight title challenger Darren Cruise hails from Castlerea and eleven-time Irish champion Saidhbh Greene comes from Cootehall

23 – Armagh
Underage phenoms Jake and Kane Tucker boxed with Phoenix before moving to the Holy Trinity club in Belfast. Former St Malachy’s boxer and current National Senior (Intermediate) light welterweight champ Eugene McKeever also calls Armagh his home, as does 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Sean Duffy.

22 – Cavan
National team regular Céire Smith comes from the Breffni County, while Olympic silver medalist John Joe Nevin boxed out of Cavan BC

21 – Waterford
The Déise are going through a relatively strong period, with pro prospects Rohan Daté and Dylan Moran, and talented amateurs such as multi Irish champion Rhys Moran, newcomer Kelyn Cassidy, and 2013 Intermediate champion Barry Barnes.

20 – Kilkenny
2012 Olympian and European silver medalist Darren O’Neill is still operating at the highest level despite moving up to heavyweight, while his Paulstown team mate Shane Flavin looks like one for the future. Then, over at Callan BC, there is Clare Grace, winner of 2014 European bronze.

19 – Offaly
The midland county has become a powerhouse of amateur boxing, with St Brigid’s Edenderry becoming one of, if not the top club for women’s boxing in the country, with countless champions such as Lauren Hogan, Shannon Edge, Natasha Logan, Lauren Kelly, Caitlin Sweeney, and Saidhbh Greene. Additionally, at Spartacus there is the big-punching Grainne Walsh who this year reached two quarter finals at major international tournaments, while St Mary’s Daingean is home to current Senior (Intermediate) champ Brian Kennedy.

18 – Louth
The Broadhurst siblings Paul, Stephen, and Amy share 27 Irish titles and 6 European medals between them. At the Holy Family club in Drogheda there has been National Senior (Intermediate) success in recent years from Eugene McKeever and the very highly-rated Michael Stokes.

17 – Meath
Reigning Elite light flyweight champion Lauren Hogan is a Meath woman, while Romanian-born Johnstown-based Constantin Popvicu is a fixture at the Senior Championships. Dunshaughlin’s Prizefighter winner Jono Carroll looks poised to have a huge 2017 in the professional game. The Ricky Hatton-trained Chris Blaney is another pro prospect, while his younger sisters Shauna and Catherine look set for big things in the amateurs.

16 – Tyrone
Pro prospects Feargal McCrory and Conrad Cummings both hail from Coalisland, while the Bradley brothers at Sacred Heart Omagh, Tiernan and Callum, have enjoyed much underage success, with Tiernan winning 2015 Commonwealth Youth silver. Additionally, Two Castles BC duo Ryan Donnelly and Chris McClean both impressed at the National Senior (Intermediate) Championships.

15 – Mayo
2014 European Youth silver medalist Gary Sweeney is currently ripping it up in the pros, while Youth Olympic silver winner Ciara Ginty of the decorated Geesala club recently returned to the ring after a spell out for study. Pro prospect Ryan Peake is another who intends to return soon, while his fellow Ballyhaunis man Sean Conroy is one of the top light heavies in the country. Then, of course, we are all excitedly awaiting news of a pro career for 2011 European gold medalist Ray Moylette.

14 – Laois
Michael Nevin has ruled the underage game, winning three European golds and a World bronze, while his fellow Portlaoise man TJ Doheny will look to close in on a bantamweight world title fight in the pros next year.

13 – Derry
Tyrone McCullagh has looked sensational as a pro so far, while Connor Coyle and John Cooley are putting the hard yards in over in Florida. 2014 Commonwealth bronze medalist Sean McGlinchey hopes to join them in the pros, while his Oak Leaf team mate Brett McGinty has just finished a decorated underage career and will be one to watch over the next few years.

12- Wexford
Dean Walsh has won three consecutive Senior Elite titles and European bronze, while 2012 Olympian Adam Nolan is also a Loch Garman man. In the pros there is Gorey Garda Niall Kennedy who looks set for US state title fights next year and Luton-born Michael Devine who is intensely proud of his Yellow Belly roots.

11 – Wicklow
The Garden County is relatively sparse in terms of boxers, although Sean Allen of Arklow is a fixture at the Seniors and Bray are starting to roll out plenty of underage champions, but in Katie Taylor they have the most decorated Irish fighter of all time, with nineteen major international medals and a burgeoning pro career.

10 – Tipperary
Pro prospect Con Sheehan hails from Clonmel, as did his replacement on the Irish team Dean Gardiner and potential heir to Katie Taylor’s Irish lightweight throne Shauna O’Keefe. Incidentally, Clonmel also has the highest proportion of Irish-Boxing.com readers in the country as a percentage of the town’s population. There is also some big talent over at Thurles ABC, most notably Irish Senior (Intermediate) welterweight champ Conor Ivors.

9 – Galway
The Tribesmen are going through a good patch in the amateurs, with Gabriel Dossen recently taking World Youth bronze and the Cleary brothers, Frankie and James, also impressing with their big-punching styles. Out in Oughterard there is Kieran Molloy, rated as one of the top amateur prospects in the country, and Sydney-based pro Gearoid Clancy. Three-weight Irish champ Peter McDonagh hails from Connemara. Also in the pros there is the Irish title hopeful Alan Donnellan, while Titans ABC are bringing some huge talent through, especially young Jason Myers who this year won European Schoolboys gold.

8 – Monaghan
The home county of former world champion Barry McGuigan is packed full of talent. Carrickmacross super flyweight Christina McMahon looks set for a world title fight in 2017, while Larry Gleeson of Clones is just starting his pro journey. In the amateurs there is the likes of European schoolboys bronze medalist Jason Irwin as well as the Old School Boxing Club, which is home to the decorated McKenna brothers Gary, Stevie, and Aaron, as well as European Youth silver medalist Terry McEntee.

7 – Donegal
There has been plenty of success recently for Tír Chonaill. Jason Quigley continues his stratospheric climb towards super stardom in America, while Michael McLaughlin Owen won the New England welterweight title this year and Shaun McShane was twice edged out for Scottish title honours by Eddie Doyle. John Hutchinson made a welcome return to the ring this year, and there has also been plenty of amateur success through the likes of Brett McGinty, Labhaoise Clarke, John Moran, and Chloe McDaid

6 – Cork
Following a rough few years, the Rebel County is starting to mount a comeback. There is, of course, Spike O’Sullivan, while New York-based prospect Noely Murphy is causing quite a stir. The very highly-rated Vladimir Belujsky looks set to debut in the new Year, while the Cork Cubans Luis Garcia, Mike Perez, and Alexei Collado will all give it one more roll of the dice in 2017. The amateur game is looking especially strong, with Christina Desmond being one of the Irish fighters of the year, and young talents such as Oliver McCarthy, Eamer Coughlan, Tommy Hyde, and Tommy McCarthy all shining.

5 – Westmeath
Two of Ireland’s greatest amateurs ever, John Joe Nevin and Joe Ward, come from the Lake County. There’s also plenty of talent coming through, with the Kelly brothers Adam and Wayne at Ballinacargy, and Cheyanne O’Neill and Ken Okungbowa impressing recently for Athlone BC, as well as Jack Conroy at Mullingar Elite. Mary Kate Nevin was also one of the stars of 2016, taking home gold and the best boxer award from the Queens Cup in Germany

4 – Limerick
Former WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee will give it one last lash in 2017, but it is in the amateurs where the bulk of Limerick’s success has come recently. The Donovan brothers Paddy and Edward of OLOL have brought home major international silverware recently, as have Rathkeale twins Jason and Jamie Harty. The long line of fighting Caseys continues in Myles and Tommy, while it’s a good place for the big men too, with St Francis’s Kevin Sheehy and the Rathkeale duo of Cormac Long and Martin Keenan all impressing this year.

3 – Kildare
The lilywhites are looking as strong as ever. St Michael’s Athy continues to produce champion after champion, including Olympian Davey Oliver Joyce, while St Brigid’s Kildare and Ryston are also bringing home Irish titles by the lorry-load. Dervla Duffy is the reigning Irish elite bantamweight queen, and Gary Cully and John Joyce both look set to have breakthrough years at Senior level in 2017. In the pros, Kilcullen’s Dennis Hogan has manouevered his way back into world title contention, Athy’s Eric Donovan has had a sensational debut year, and Newbridge’s Allan Phelan will hope to restart his career in 2017.

2 – Dublin
Glasnevin’s Kelly Harrington is arguably the biggest women’s amateur in Ireland right now, while there is plenty of amateur talent starting to come through with the likes of Tommy Carty, Jordan Moore, Christopher O’Reilly, William Hayden, and Tony McGlynn all looking impressive. In terms of the pros, the Crumlin-Clondalkin-Ballyfermot area alone is home to top fighters such as Phil Sutcliffe, Luke Keeler, Tony Bates, Stephen Ormond, Shortty Carroll, and Ian Tims. Outside the city there is the likes of Gerard Whitehouse and Jay Byrne, while Darragh Foley, Sean Creagh, Lynn Harvey, Sean Turner, Deco Geraghty, and many more call Dublin home

1 – Antrim
The undisputed #1 Irish boxing county. Among an unlistable amount of top fighters, Antrim is home to two-weight world champion Carl Frampton, Olympic medalists Paddy Barnes and Mick Conlan, top amateurs such as Steven Donnelly, Brendan Irvine, Sean McComb, and Kurt Walker, as well as pro contenders like Tyrone McKenna, Tommy McCarthy, Paddy Gallagher, Jamie Conlan, Ryan Burnett, James Tennyson, Paul Hyland Jr and Marco McCullough. Four of the six professional shows in Ireland this year took place in Belfast, and the Titanic City is arguably one of the top boxing cities in the world.

There really was only ever going to be one winner.

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: joneill6@tcd.ie