Cork aiming to humble rest of country in Neptune tourney

BOXING returns to the Neptune Stadium for the first time in 21 years on Saturday night (7pm) when the Cork County Board of the IABA stage a charity show in aid of the Leukaemia Ward at the Mercy Hospital.

The event features an all-Cork team against boxers from the rest of the country.

The last time a boxing show was staged in the city venue was 1985 — during the Cork 800 celebrations — when Olympic silver medallist, Shawn O’Sullivan defeated American Pat McDowell before a full house.

And this show was also heading towards a sell-out. At the start of the week 1,000 tickets had already been sold and, on the night, there will be an auction for Bernard Dunne’s boxing gloves — autographed by the newly crowned European champion.

It is all about boxing and, with the national intermediate championships just a couple of weeks away, there will be a huge interest in the contests involving some of the country’s leading intermediates.

The 71kg bout between Gary O’Sullivan (Loughmahon), a former Irish champion, and Tony Senior (Crumlin) is one such affair with the possibility that both boxers may touch gloves again at the National Stadium next month.

Ben Coughlan (Kinsale) will be hoping to extend his run of good fortune when he climbs in against Keith O’Brien (Crumlin) at 66 kgs.

The Dungarvan Club is on the crest of a wave and they have nominated Peter Keenan to take on the talented Leeside/Lough youth, Gary O’Connell at 57kgs. Both are Munster champions from last season.

Maurice Walsh continues to turn out exciting prospects at the St Coleman’s Club in Shanagarry and Patrick O’Shea is just one of his new crop. He’ll highlight his talents against Darragh Healy (Crumlin).

But Ritchie Balfe (Macroom) could steal the show when he takes on Jack Coleman (Rathkeale) in another contest involving two Munster champs.

Tommy Kiely (Glen) joined an elite group of Irish boxers when he won a European bronze medal last season. He meets John MlcDonagh (Crumlin) in a boy 4 57 kg contest.

Light heavyweight, Tommy Murray (Rylane) was in action for Ireland against Holland last weekend and he will be back before the home crowd on Friday night when he meets Michael McDonagh from the Crumlin club.

When Shane Hickey (Brian Dillons) and Willie Casey (OLOL) met recently they produced a classic and fans can expect another thriller with Casey hoping to reverse the decision.

Paul Duncliffe (Sunnyside) has won Irish titles at all levels and he is the national intermediate champion. His armour was dented recently in a thriller with Gerry Casey (OLOL) and he will be out to avenge that close defeat.

Irish champion, Colin Duggan (Cobh), will take on John O’Reilly (Saviours/Crystal) in a 52kg youth 1 contest while Riverstown’s Mark Fitzpatrick will take on another Saviours/Crystal boxer, Dean Foley, at 66kgs.

Hard-hitting middleweight, Niall Healy (Bantry), meets Devane Dates (Saviours/Crystal) in what promises to be a great fight while the newly crowned Munster super-heavyweight champion, Eaman Higgins (UCC) meets Sean Costello (Ballyduff) in what should be spellbinding contest involving two big punchers.

With European champion Katie Taylor punching her way to glory at the world championships this week, there will be a big interest in the women’s contest involving Ciara Noonan (Fermoy) and another rising star, Karina Meskel (Rathkeale).

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