Title chances up for grabs as big guns ruled out

This year’s Elite national boxing championships are only at semi-final stage but already we know that five titles will change hands this year.

Michael McDonagh (lightweight, did not enter), Paddy Barnes (light flyweight, flu victim), John Joe Nevin and Connie Sheehan (bantamweight and super-heavyweight respectively, both with hand injuries) all lost their titles without even a punch being thrown, while London 2012 Olympic boxing team captain Darren O’Neill was last Saturday beaten on countback by European U23 champion Jason Quigley in the middleweight division, a measure of the standard on display.

Still standing, however, are Michael Conlan (flyweight), Ross Hickey (light welterweight), Adam Nolan (welterweight), Joe Ward (light-heavyweight) and Tommy McCarthy (heavyweight), who last Saturday comfortably overcame the considerable challenge of Ken Okungbowa.

Olympic bronze medallist Michael Conlan will be making his first appearance but faces a stern test in fellow Belfast boxer Ruairi Dalton. Dalton has already seen action, a lop-sided 21-5 winner over Aidan Metcalfe last weekend, but Conlan will be expected to win, setting himself up nicely for this clash. Hickey, Nolan and McCarthy will also be in action this evening but Joe Ward, with a bye to the final, won’t be in action until next weekend. His likely opponent in that final, Beijing Olympic silver medallist Ken Egan, is in action tomorrow, taking on Davey Joe Joyce, but Willie McLaughlin against John Joe Joyce is the one many are waiting to see on this card (first bout both evenings is at 7pm).

In the women’s championship Lynn McEnery (light flyweight) and Claire Grace (welterweight) also put their titles on the line, Lynn facing Hannah McCarthy (Paulstown) and Claire up against Joanna Barclay (Holy Family).

Another action-packed weekend ahead then, though if any more champions were to fall, it will be a major surprise.

Tonight: 48kg: H Carthy (Paulstown) v L McEnery (St Paul’s); 48kg: M Clarke (Ballinacarrow) v E Duffy (Crumlin); 49kg: H Myres (Ryston) v A Courtney (St Mary’s); 52kg: M Conlan (St John Bosco) v R Dalton (Holy Trinity); 54kg: D Duffy (Ryston) v C Gargan (St Georges); 57kg: J Lambe (Carrickmacross) v L Doyle (Gorey); 56kg: D Geraghty (Crumlin) v D Thorpe (St Aiden’s); 60kg: E Donovan (St Michaels Athy) v S McComb (Holy Trinity); 64kg: A Audley-Murphy (Eastside) v K Harrington (Corinthians); 64kg: R Hickey (Grangecon) v R Date (St Paul’s); 69kg: C Grace (Callan) v J Barclay (Holy Family); 69kg: L Claire Sweetman (Palmerstown) v L Traynor (Bray); 69kg: A Nolan (Bray) v B Brosnan (Crumlin); 75kg: J Quigley (Finn Valley) v C Cummings (Holy Trinity); 91kg: T McCarthy (Oliver Plunkett) v K Sikora (St Francis); 91+kg: S Turner (Drimnagh) v Dean Gardner (Clonmel).

Tomorrow: 49kg: TJ Waite (Cairn Lodge) v S Tracey (Ryston); 52kg: H Joyce (St Michaels Athy) v C Phelan (Ryston); 56kg: G McKenna (Old School) v B Walsh (St Colman’s); 60kg: G Bates (St Mary’s) v D Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy); 64kg: S Duffy (Holy Trinity) v R Moylette (St Anne’s); 69kg: W McLaughlin (Illies GG) v JJ Joyce (St Michael’s Athy); 75kg: C Coyle (St Joseph’s) v R Sheehan (St Michael’s Athy); 81kg: D Joe Joyce (Crumlin) v K Egan (Neilstown); 91kg: P Corcoran (Olympic) v J Sweeney (Drimnagh); 91kg+: N Kennedy (Gorey) v M McKeever (St Matthews).

Finals: 51kg: C Smith (Cavan) v S Daly (Ballyhaunis); 75kg: C Connolly (Raphoe) v S Kavanagh (Drimnagh); 81kg +: L Murphy (Carrickmacross) v TBD; 69kg: TBD v TBD; 48kg: TBD v TBD.

Picture: Michael Conlon (INPHO)

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