Bolger looks to scupper Walsh’s European dream

Bolger looks to scupper Walsh’s European dream
Ireland’s Michaela Walsh (left) celebrates her win against Romania’s Lenuta-Lacramioara Perijoc in the Women’s Featherweight Boxing at Sport Palace Uruchie, at the European Games in Minsk. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Germany head coach Eddie Bolger won’t have any divided loyalties as he looks to put one over his native Ireland at the European Games boxing tournament in Minsk.

Wexford-born Bolger will be working Ornella’s Wahner’s corner when the world featherweight champion meets Ireland’s EU titlist Michaela Walsh in tomorrow’s quarter-finals at the European Games in Minsk.

Walsh set up the three-rounder for at least bronze with the No 1 seed on a 4-1 split decision over Lenuta Perijoc yesterday, her third straight win over the Romanian.

Kurt Walker, the No 4 seed in the bantam class, also won and Offaly welter Grainne Walsh stunned Great Britain’s Rosie Eccles on a 4-1 split verdict. 

“It will be tough,” said Bolger, an ex-Irish coach. “Michaela is a serious operator and she’s always hungry. 

The biggest respect from me to Ireland is to give it everything to beat Ireland.

“I’ll be 100% in Germany’s corner because that’s the best way to pay respect. 

"Ornella and Michaela have met a few times in the past and I’m expecting a close fight.”

Walsh is determined to put past disappointments behind her and use the European Games in Minsk as a springboard to success at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“Every time I go away to a competition I always think of gold, and I really believe that this is my time.

I’ve moved up in weight to chase my Olympic dream, and every morning when I wake up, Tokyo is what I visualise.

“This tournament in Minsk feels like a mini-Olympics for me. It’s all a stepping stone towards the main goal which is Tokyo.”

Meanwhile, Walker admitted that he had to pull out all the stops en route to his last 16 win over fired up Armenian bantam Zhirayr Saeqsyan yesterday.

The Antrim puncher soaked up two big shots in rounds one and two but found the target with enough qualify punches to advance.

“He was very, very good, better than expected and it was his type of fight. I felt a bit rusty but it will stick by,” he said. “Body shots, that’s what won me the fight.”

Tipperary super-heavy Dean Gardiner and Galway welter Kieran Molloy lost to to Georgia’s Mikheil Bakhtidze and Belarus’ Yauheni Dauhaliavets yesterday.

All of Ireland’s wins and losses on Monday were on 4-1 split decisions for and against.

Michael Nevin and Regan Buckley, who once boxed out of Katie Taylor’s Bray BC, meet Spain’s Martin Molina and Turkey’s Guler Serhat in today’s middle and light fly quarter-finals with at least bronze up for grabs.

James McGivern and Aoife O’Rourke fight in the last 16, while Dublin’s Kellie Harrington, the Irish captain in Minsk, faces Italy’s Irma Testa in the lightweight quarter-finals tomorrow.

Ireland is the only nation to hold the lightweight title as Katie Taylor won gold at the inaugural European Games in Baku in 2015.

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