The 21-year-old Wexford native claimed a 3-0 unanimous points win over Benaldo Marime, of Holy Trinity Belfast, on Saturday night, and is now aiming for a hat-trick of national senior titles.
The 2016 Irish senior championships are being held early to avoid a busy international schedule in the new year, in the build-up to the Rio Olympics. The competition will also act as a selection tool for the Games.
Last Saturday night’s bout was the first time Billy Walsh was not in his nephew’s corner for a senior championship bout, with the 52-year-old trainer having departed from his role as Irish head coach, in acrimonious circumstances, last month.
The elder Walsh has taken up a new coaching role with US Boxing, so Dean’s father, Donal, and Nicky Caine were fulfilling corner duties at the weekend.
Two-time champion Walsh was patient and comfortable throughout his three-round win over the competitive Marime, and the St Joseph’s/St Ibar’s club man is now keen to prove any doubters wrong, by winning his third Irish senior title on the trot.
“There’s a lot of fellas who say I’m only on the team because Billy was there, but, now he’s gone, I have to kind of prove myself,” said Walsh, a European bronze medallist.
“Billy never got me here, but he helped to guide me. I still had to go out and win the senior championships twice. Now, I have to prove to people who think it was [all down to] Billy’s help. I have to prove people wrong,” added the Irish 64kg champion, who said it was difficult to focus on his own preparation while the saga surrounding his uncle was unfolding.
“Everyone was asking me what the story was with Billy, but sure I didn’t know heads nor tails about it,” said Dean Walsh. “I couldn’t go into town, or go for food, without someone asking about Billy, but it’s kind of calmed down a small bit now. I thought the IABA… it was bad to let him go, but it’s a different life and dream [for him],” added Walsh, who is set to meet James Cleary, of the Olympic club in Galway, in the 64kg semi-finals.
Cleary put Paulstown’s James Flavin down for a count en route to a split-decision win, while former European champion and 2015 Irish finalist, Ray Moylette, of Westport, recorded a 3-0 unanimous points-win over St Mary’s Patrick Linehan.
Lightweight title-holder, Seán McComb, of Belfast, was comfortable throughout his unanimous-decision win over Tiernan Bradley, of Sacred Heart, and the Holy Trinity man looks likely to be on course for a 60kg rematch against veteran David Oliver Joyce, who defeated Gary Cully, of Naas, in a competitive opener on Saturday night.
On Friday night, Shauna O’Keeffe, of Clonmel, beat Kayleigh Murrihy-McCormack, of Kilfenora, to book a 60kg women’s decider against Olympic champion, Katie Taylor, with the female domestic finals set to take place this Friday night.