Billy Walsh predicts more records for ‘fantastic’ Irish boxers

Ireland’s boxing head coach Billy Walsh declared the European Games a total success and believes this Irish team can break more records.

Billy Walsh predicts more records for ‘fantastic’ Irish boxers

“It’s fantastic” grinned Walsh. “This team has a habit of setting records and this team, a new team, have done just that. It’s fantastic to see, the abundance of talent that we have at home.

“Look at the talent that’s not here with us, Olympic medallists, so it’s great to see new kids on the block cutting their teeth,” grinned Walsh, celebrating a double gold within 90 minutes from Katie Taylor and Michael O’Reilly on Saturday.

Katie was fantastic. She was never under any threat of losing but the pressure she’s under is immense. I’ve been there with her and how she handles it is amazing.

“To go out and perform every day to a very high standard is something else” added Walsh who still believes Taylor won her semi-final unanimously and not on the close split decision decided by the judges.

“I watched the semi-final again on Friday night and I thought she won the four rounds” explained Walsh.

“I think the judges are getting a bit fed up of her winning all the time.

“She’s remarkable, we’ll never see an athlete like her in Ireland.”

While Taylor’s victory was a special one Michael O’Reilly pulled off a major surprise to beat home town boxer Xaybula Musalov on 29-28 unanimous decision in front of the Azerbaijani president and a fiery home crowd.

“We had planned on getting a good start and that was key,” explained Walsh.

“This guy (Musalov) was in a war on Friday, he went for it in the first round and won it.

“Michael took his foot off the gas a bit in the second. It was all down to the last round and he stuck to the plan and produced a brilliant round with great effect.

“He’s following an array of middleweights we’ve had, Andy Lee, Darren Sutherland, Eamon O’Kane, Darren O’Neill, Jason Quigley, all medallists on the world stage and now we have Michael O’Reilly and hopefully he can get on the plane to Rio.”

Walsh and the Irish coaching staff threw their arms sky ward on the sound of the last bell. Walsh had previously said how worried he was with the judges being influenced toward the hometown boxers.

“We knew we were one each going into the last round,” explained Walsh.

“He won the last round, but you never know.

“Anything can happen here, the president is in the audience, you never know until they raise your hand, that’s the way it goes.”

Ireland left the Crystal Hall with four medals in the first European Games, though Walsh and members of the Irish team felt that more medals should be arriving in Dublin with the team later today.

“We lost split decisions to guys who went onto win gold medals,” frowned Walsh.

“We were very close on a number of occasions, so it was just a little bit of luck.

“Some of those younger guys have to learn and know how to win and be a little bit trickier in these tournaments.

“At the end of the day I think we finished in third place and that’s great with such a young team” smiled Walsh.

The boxers are very much on the road to Rio, surprisingly Baku did not offer a passage to next year’s Olympic Games, though O’Reilly and Brendan Irvine have both qualified for October’s world championship.

Walsh believes this team can break more records.

“The potential is there, we want to take a nice week off and relax.

“The week after next were back training for the European championships in August which is a qualifier for the World championships, so the other guys, we want to get them into the World championships.”

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