Right hooks ease Hickey’s path after step up in weight

ROSS HICKEY, who won a national senior title at lightweight back in 2008, launched his campaign at light-welter at last night’s national elite championships at the National Stadium with victory over Crumlin’s Stephen Carroll.

The Wicklow man, who won a bronze medal at the European championships in Liverpool in 2008, also lost lightweight finals to Eric Donovan in 2006 and 2009 but last night Hickey admitted he feels more comfortable at light-welterweight after out-pointing Carroll 5-3.

But it was a hard-earned win with two of the Grangecon man’s points coming from standing counts that resulted from big right hooks to the head.

“He made me work hard, he’s a very strong puncher,” he said. “I caught him with two right hooks when I needed them because he was coming on strong. I had to give him something to stop him.

“It was hard to get a point tonight. I thought I was hitting him with cleaner shots and I thought I should have been getting points but I wasn’t. Everybody could see the body shots.

“I am more comfortable at light-welterweight. I’m not struggling to get down to 60. I was too big — too tall — I’m enjoying it this way. Every weight division is tough those days.”

His opponent in today’s quarter-finals will be Niall Murray (Gorey) who out-pointed Barry Gillespie (Twintowns) 8-0 last night.

Olympic silver medallist Kenny Egan received a bye into next week’s semi-finals in his quest for an unprecedented 11th successive national senior title.

The Neilstown southpaw will meet the winner of today’s light-heavyweight quarter-final between Sligo’s Thomas Roohan (Ballinacarrow BC) and Brian Fitzpatrick (Ballina).

With Tommy McCarthy, his opponent in the last two finals, moving up to heavyweight, Egan’s big challenge this time is likely to come from the 17-year-old Moate man Joe Ward, who won world titles at Under 16 and U17 levels in the last two years and would have won the Youth Olympics title in Singapore last summer were it not for the fact that he broke his hand in his first contest.

Ward has also received a bye into the last four and will meet the winner of today’s quarter-final between Davey Joe Joyce (St Michael’s, Athy) and Sean Allen (Garda/Arklow).

John Joe Joyce (St Michael’s, Athy), the defending champion, will meet Shane Murtagh (Crumlin) in the first of the welterweight quarter-finals this morning.

In last night’s preliminaries Murtagh out-pointed Jonathan Dowling (Paulstown) 3-0.

Craig McCarthy (St Paul’s, Waterford) caused a major upset when he dumped out last year’s beaten finalist and former champion Willie McLaughlin (Ilies GG) on a countback of 3-2, while Patrick Gallagher (Gleann, Belfast), a gold medallist at last year’s Commonwealth Games, was beaten 6-1 by Daniel Quinn (Glasnevin).

This morning’s session will decide 23 quarter-finals.

John Joe Nevin (Cavan) will begin the defence of his bantamweight title against George Bates (St Mary’s, Dublin).

The new bantamweight limit is now set at 56kg, resulting in an amalgamation of the old bantamweight (54kg) and featherweight (58kg) divisions which brings in the featherweight champion, Tyrone McCullagh (Holy Family), bronze medallist at last year’s European championships in Moscow.

The first senior fight under the new limit was decided at last night’s preliminaries when Sean McComb (Holy Trinity) beat Danny Coughlan (St Anne’s) 4-1 for the right to meet Shane Cox today.

At lightweight, defending champion Eric Donovan and his St Michael’s clubmate David Oliver Joyce go into opposite ends of the draw today.

Darren O’Neill (Paulstown) begins his defence of his middleweight title tonight against Conor Coyle (St Joseph’s, Derry) while former world junior bronze medallist and silver medallist at last year’s Commonwealth Games, Tommy McCarthy, launches his campaign at heavyweight against hot favourite Con Sheehan (Clonmel).

National Elite Boxing Championships Preliminaries at the National Stadium:

Bantamweight: S. McComb (Holy Trinity) beat D. Coughlan (St Anne’s) 4-1.

Lightweight: M. Myres (Ryston) beat G. Keating (St Saviours) 6-5; Jason C. (Crumlin) beat P. Raymond (Bray) RSC H Rd 3.

Light-Welterweight: R. Hickey (Grangecon) beat S. Carroll (Crumlin) 5-3; N. Murray (Gorey) beat B. Gillespie (Twintowns) 8-0; S. Coughlan (Bray) beat J. Hanney (Corinthians) 15-2; T. McKenna (Oliver Plunkett) beat T. Dwyer (St Aidens) 3-0; A. Upton (Holy Family) beat E. Touhy (St Carthages) 5-1.

Welterweight: S. Murtagh (Crumlin) beat J. Dowling (Paulstown) 3-0; D. Quinn (Glasnevin) beat P. Gallagher (Gleann) 6-1; K. Brabazon (St Saviours) beat G. Hogan (Crumlin) 3-1; A. Nolan (Garda/Bray) beat F. Redmond (Arklow) 3-0; C. McCarthy (St Pauls) beat W. McLaughlin (Illies GG) 3-2 on countback (1-1).

Female Q/Final Welterweight: J. Lyons (St Francis) beat J. Barkly (Holy Family) RSC Rd 3.

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