Brendan Irvine earns first medal for Ireland at Baku

Brendan Irvine battled from behind to land Ireland’s first ever European games medal in Baku, Azerbaijan, yesterday.

Brendan Irvine earns first medal for Ireland at Baku

The 19-year-old Belfast man overcame hometown favourite Salman Alizada and a partisan crowd. Winning a split decision 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.

“I knew it was going to be tough,” admitted Irvine.

“He was the No.1 seed coming in here, but you have to go out there and focus on the performance, leave everything in the ring. But this is only the start of the journey for me.”

Irvine produced an impressive second-round performance, having lost the first round 10-9 according to the three judges. He recovered with an expert second-round performance before silencing the home crowd in the final round.

“I knew it would be like that,” admitted Irvine. “To be honest, the atmosphere probably drove me on, more than it did him. So I just focused on the performance. They were always going to back him, from the start, but the crowd had no effect on me, to be honest. I just focused on what I had to do.”

The win earned Irvine at least a bronze medal. He will face Ukraine’s Dmytro Zamotayev tomorrow to decide the silver and gold medals.

“It’s very special to be the first Irish medal winner, but it won’t be the last. Definitely won’t be the last one this year,” grinned the 19 year old.

There were no additional medals to be added to the Irish cabinet on day 10, though, with Dean Gardiner and Ceire Smith both losing their quarter-final bouts. 22-year-old Cavan boxer Smithlost out to Russian Saiana Sagataeva 39-37, 39-37, 37-39.

Gardiner’s Baku 2015 also came to an end after a unanimous loss to France’s Tony Yoka in the second to last bout of the evening.

Meanwhile, Scott Evans got his quest for European games badminton gold off to a flying start, beating Georgios Charalamibidis within 24 minutes. Evans is the highest world-ranked player in Baku this year.

Evans sits atop group A, having won his first of three games, with the top two progressing to the last 16. Evans will take the court at 5.40pm today against Belgian Yuhan Tan, having beaten Charlamibids 21-7, 21-9.

Tan won his first group game against Hungary’s Gergely Krausz,

Chloe Magee and Sam Magee got their mixed doubles campaign off to a winning start beating Czech pair Jakub Bitman and Alzbeta Basova 21-11, 19-21, 21-14.

The Irish team who began their badminton group stage games on Monday, did not have such good fortune. Chloe Magee, successful in the mixed doubles, was on the wrong end of an 18-21, 17-21 defeat to Estonia’s Katie Tolmoff.

Magee will need to get back to winning ways in the singles tournament against Kristine Sefere of Lativa today if she is to make further progress.

Joshua Magee and Sam Magee were also beaten in their opening pool game in the men’s double event, going down to Danish pair Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen 21-17, 21-16 inside 34 minutes.

The Magee brothers play Portuguese pair Angelo and Ricardo Silva in their second group game at 1.20pm Irish time today. A win is needed for the brothers, if they wish to stay in contention for a place in the last 16.

Rachael Darragh and Sara Boyle lost to Finnish pair Mathilda Lindholm and Jenny Nystrom 15-21, 15-21 inside 28 minutes. Darragh and Boyle face French pair Lorraine Baumann and Audrey Fontaine at 5.20pm today.

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