Wary Ward not taking Joyce for granted

JOE WARD may have a pocketful of gold medals — world junior, world youths, European senior and a national senior gold — but tonight he climbs into the ring with fellow Westmeath man Davy Joe Joyce to decide his Olympic future.

A year ago, then just 17, the Moate boxer stripped Olympic silver medallist Kenny Egan of his light heavyweight title at the Elite boxing championships, depriving him of a sensational 11th successive national senior title.

Ward later won the European senior title but failed to qualify for the Olympic Games at the world championships in Baku. But that is what will be on his mind in tonight’s semi-final at the Elite championships at the National Stadium.

“I had an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics and I did not take it,” he said. “I’m still disgusted with my performance in Baku. It still eats at me because it was a fight I should have won.

“Basically, I was not 100% in there. It just wasn’t me on that day.”

Everyone is looking toward a rematch with Egan in next Friday night’s final but Ward insisted he will not be taking anything for granted.

When he beat Joyce in last year’s semi-final the Ballinacargy man was coming back from a broken hand.

In the summer Joyce won the infamous box-off for the world championships but Ward, although injured, was always assured of selection. Now, after beating Sean Allen (Arklow) 6-5 in his quarter-final, he feels he is ready for either Ward and Egan.

“To win the seniors your going to have to beat both of them,” he said. “They probably have the favourite tag but it won’t bother me stepping in there. For them to beat me they’re going to have to work hard.”

Kenny Egan was 24-9 up against fellow Dubliner, Michael Frayne (St Mary’s), in last weekend’s quarter-finals when the referee stopped the contest and it is difficult to see tomorrow night’s opponent Eamonn Walsh (St Anne’s, Westport) beating him.

Ross Hickey (Grangecon), a bronze medallist at the European championships in 2008, stepped up a division to claim the light welterweight title last year. But he missed out on the European championships due to work commitments and watched Ray Moylette claim that title. Then he lost to Moylette in a box-off for the world championships.

But Moylette failed to qualify for the Olympics in Baku and, last weekend, suffered as shock defeat to U20 champion Martin Wall (Crumlin).

Tonight Hickey meets Niall Murray (Gorey) while tomorrow night Wall will take on Stephen Coughlan (Bray) for the other place in Friday night’s final.

Adam Nolan, who trains alongside Katie Taylor in Bray, will continue the defence of his welterweight title after a big win over up and coming European youth silver medallist, Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise).

Tonight, however, he faces a more experienced opponent in Willie McLaughlin (Illies Golden Gloves) in what promises to be an exciting semi-final with St Michael’s clubmates Roy Sheahan and John Joe Joyce, both multiple champions, in the other semi-final tomorrow night.

plays hurling with Oulart-the-Ballagh.

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