O’Reilly, Sweeney going for gold

IRELAND’S Michael O’Reilly and Gary Sweeney are through to today’s finals at the European Youth Championships following wins at the Citywest Convention Centre in Dublin last night.

O’Reilly, trading leather in the welterweight category, recorded his third victory in three days after earning a convincing 20-12 decision over Viktar Murashkin of Belarus.

And Sweeney, a brother of pro boxer Michael, didn’t leave his loyal band of Mayo supporters down, coming from behind to do a double over Latvian light-heavyweight Nikita Versockis 10-8.

Both Irish boxers will be the only western Europeans in today’s finals, which are dominated by Russia, who advanced nine into ten of today’s deciders.

O’Reilly landed some well timed hooks in the opening frame to command an 8-6 lead at the bell and extended that advantage to 13-8 by the end of the second.

The Portlaoise BC prospect, who will meet Russia’s Igor Kharitonov this afternoon, also found the target with some neat shots in the third to emerge with a clear margin of victory.

“Once I’m getting the wins I absolutely love them. I’m in the final now and I’m going for the gold medal. That’s the one I want,” he said. “I know he is a former European champion at junior level but I reckon I should take him out.”

Sweeney, meantime, turned in big third round to claim victory over Versockis.

Trailing 5-4 going into the last three minutes against the Latvian — whom he beat in Russia this year — the All Stars BC ace hammered home five points to seal a 10-8 verdict.

Meantime, Belfast flyweight Joe Fitzpatrick, at 16 the youngest member of the Irish squad, almost denied Russia six wins in-a-row in the 52Kg class versus Vasily Vetkin.

The Immaculata BC club-man, who was given a bewildering standing count by the ref after shipping a standard punch in the second, was leading 4-3 and 10-8 after rounds one and two.

But Vetkin turned it around in the third and final frame to claim a 15-13 decision.

Fitzpatrick said: “Disappointed? Sure, I’m disappointed — very disappointed. I just don’t understand the counts, either of them ... I hit him with a good shot and he is the one who is awarded the count?

Irish coach Billy McClean added: “He’s the youngest kid on the team and he certainly has some future in front of him. He is eligible again next year and also for the World Championships ... watch out for him.”

Earlier yesterday, Dundalk middleweight Stephen Broadhurst and Wexford heavyweight Jack Morrissey also had to be content with bronze medals.

Broadhurst, who boxes out of the Dealgan BC, lost 13-11 to Rauf Rashimov of Azerbaijan, Rashimov edging a final round in which both boxers looked out on their feet.

Morrissey, of the Sacre Coeur club, was retired in round two by the Irish corner against Russia’s impressive Ivan Versayasov.

Today’s finals glove off at 2.30pm.

Picture: GOLDEN CHANCE: Ireland’s Michael O’Reilly celebrates his victory over Belarus’ Viktar Murashkin at the European Youth Championship semi-finals at Citywest Hotel, Dublin. Picture: David Maher/Sportsfile

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