Katie Taylor claims first Irish title in the ring

Katie Taylor - minus her dad and coach in her corner for the first time this decade - claimed her first Irish title in the ring at Dublin’s National Stadium last night.

Katie Taylor claims first Irish title in the ring

Taylor, who had won all four of her Irish crowns on walkovers after no opponent entered against her prior to last evening, beat Tipperary southpaw Shauna O’Keeffe on a unanimous decision at the home of Irish boxing.

The Bray BC orthodox now possess all the international and national titles on offer; Olympic, World, European Elite, European Games, European Union and Irish lightweight belts.

Last night’s bout was her first against an Irishwoman since she beat Allana Murphy in the first officially sanctioned female bout in Ireland at the National Stadium in 2001.

“I’m delighted with the win and delighted to have got the opportunity to box for an Irish title for the first time, said the AIBA World No. 1 ranked lightweight.

“I would like to thank Shauna for such a good fight tonight. She’s a talented boxer. This is my first competitive fight since the European Games in Baku earlier this year.

“The Olympic qualifiers are next April in Turkey and then there’s the World Championships, I welcome competitive fights ahead of those qualifiers.”

Taylor’s dad, Pete Taylor, was at the Stadium last evening, but her brother Lee, a coach at the Bray BC, and Irish interim head coach Zaur Antia, were calling the shots in the corner.

Taylor’s absence as chief seconds will fuel speculation that he’ll also sit out April’s Olympic qualifiers in Istanbul, Turkey and the AIBA World Elite Championships, which are also an Olympic qualifier, in Kazakhstan next May.

The only other occasions Taylor senior was missing - because he was not selected as Irish coach - from his daughter’s corner was at two international fights abroad versus Turkey’s Gulsum Tatar.

Taylor senior admitted before Friday’s four-rounder that he was taking a break from the corner, that it can be stressful watching his daughter fight.

He said: “You can shout more (coaches will be sent from the corner by the ref if they call out instructions during rounds) when you’re not in the corner anyway. But I didn’t need to shout tonight because it was a controlled performance from Katie. You get a different outlook when your not in the corner.

“It means a lot for Katie to box an Irish title and well done to Shauna. She was very game tonight and a worthy opponent for Katie.

Martin Fennessey and Robert Scanlon were O’Keeffe’s coaches at the Stadium. Taylor has now won 161 times in 168 outings.

Meanwhile, Michaela Walsh, the 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist, staked her claim for the Irish 51kg vest for Istanbul at the home of Irish boxing.

The Belfast fighter, who has dropped down from bantam to fly, denied the defending champion a sixth belt on a unanimous decision over four, two minute rounds.

Lauren Hogan, Dervla Duffy, on a majority decision, Moira McElligot and Kelly Harrington also won.

The three Olympic weights classes for women are flyweight, lightweight and middleweight. Cork’s Christina Desmond took home the middleweight title on a walkover.

Meanwhile, London 2012 Olympian Darren O’Neill will begin his heavyweight title defence against Stephen Lawrence in the Men’s Elite quarter-finals at the Stadium tonight.

Nine last-eight bouts are slated for decision.

Women’s finals 48kg L Hogan (St Brigids) beat D Barr (Twin Towns) 2-1 51kg M Walsh (Holy Family GG) beat C Smith (Cavan) 3-0 54kg D Duffy (St Brigids Kildare) beat E Harrison (Ardnaree) 2-0 57kg M McElligott (Rathkeale) beat J Lambe (Carrickmacross) 2-1 60kg K Taylor (Bray) beat S O’Keeffe (Clonmel) 3-0 64kg K Harrington (Glasnevin) beat C O’Neill (Athlone) 3-0 69kg Clare Grace (Callan) Grainne Walsh (Sparticus) 75kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgans) W/O 81+kg Diana Cambell (Garda) Maeve McCarron (Carrigart)

Men - Today

Q/Finals (7.30pm) 52kg A Courtnery (St Marys Dublin) v J McKay (St Pauls Antrim) 75kg C Coyle (St Josephs Derry) v C Wallace (St Monicas Newry) 75kg E Byrne (Na Fianna) v G Lmuala Carlos (Maynooth) 81kg A Browne (St Michaels) v S McGlinchey (Oakleaf) 81kg M Tinker (St Francis) v JP Delaney (Emerald Antrim) 91kg D O’Neill (Paulstown) v S Lawrence (Holy Family Drogheda) 91kg S McMonagle (Holy Trinity) v C Griffin (Celtic Eagles) 91kg K Afansev (Smithfield) v C Joyce (St Michaels Athy) 91kg K Okungbowa (Athlone) v B O’Reilly (Portlaoise)

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