Sparkling Michael O’Reilly stakes claim for Olympic qualifier

AIBA World No. 3 ranked middleweight Michael O’Reilly secured his third successive Elite title at the National Stadium in Dublin last night.

Sparkling Michael O’Reilly stakes claim for Olympic qualifier

An overwhelming favourite with the bookies at 1/14, the European Games champion beat Newry’s Conor Wallace on a unanimous verdict to stake his claim for a place on the Irish team for the 2016 Olympic qualifiers.

The AIBA World Elite bronze medallist was clipped on a few occasions by the taller Wallace, but, the Laois orthodox, constantly moving forward, found the target with the the majority of cleaner shots in an explosive 75kg contest.

“Glad to get it, to get the job done,” said O’Reilly, who is coached by IABA president Pat Ryan at the Portlaoise BC.

Three-time EU champion David Oliver Joyce took home his sixth belt on split decision over defending lightweight champion Sean McComb in a classic rematch of the 2014 final which Joyce also won on a split.

Mayo light-welter Ray Moylette had vowed to go through defending champion Dean Walsh for a shortcut if he got the opportunity.

The ex European Elite champion did find the target with some big shots in the opening two rounds, but Walsh, a nephew of ex-Irish head coach Billy Walsh, was also firing on all cylinders en route to a split verdict for Walsh.

Monaghan light-fly Stephen McKenna, who received a bye into the final, claimed the vacant light-fly belt on his debut after outgunning Regan Buckley in the opening bout of the session. McKenna, who bagged silver at the European Youths in Poland last month, had to soak up a number of heavy shots from the Bray orthodox on his way to a unanimous decision.

The light-fly belt was vacated by Word No. 7 ranked Brendan Irvine, who moved up to fly with one eye on the Olympic qualifiers, as Paddy Barnes has qualified for Rio 2016 at light-fly.

The European Games silver medallist, boxing with composure off the front and back foot, beat the elusive TJ Waite in an all Antrim final.

“I’m delighted with the win, delighted to have another title,” said the 19-year-old Irvine, who has now secured two Irish crowns at two different weights this year.

Limerick’s Myles Casey, who vacated the flyweight title Irvine won, was beaten by defending bantam champion Kurt Walker in the 56kg final.

Casey was seeking to match his ex St Francis BC team-mate Andy Lee, the current WBO World champion, and win successive belts.

The Shannonsider, brother of Willie “Big Bang”, admitted this week that he was finding it impossible to make the 52kg limit and that he felt stronger at bantam.

But Walker proved to be the strongest on the judges’ cards, the Antrim man showing his class over three rounds against the busy Limerick orthodox.

Last night’s finals brought the curtain down on calendar year in which Ireland’s boxers have won medals in every international tournament entered at every age level.

The focus of attention will now switch to April’s Olympic qualifiers for men and women in Istanbul Turkey. Ireland will be targeting nine – six for men and three for women – Olympic berths.

The World Championships in Kazakhstan in May, where Katie Taylor will be aiming for her sixth successive gold, is the only other qualifier for women, while World Series of Boxing and AIBA Pro Boxing fighter will clash in a qualifier.

Paddy Barnes Michael Conlan, Steven Donnelly and Joe Ward have qualified for Rio 2016 for Ireland.

National Elite Championships

49kg:

Stephen McKenna (Old School) beat Regan Buckley (St Teresa’s) 3-0

52kg:

Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s Antrim) beat T.J. Waite (Ormeau Road) 3-0

56kg:

Kurt Walker (Canal) beat Myles Casey (St Francis) 3-0

75kg:

Michael O’Reilly (Portloaise) beat Conor Wallace (St Monica’s Newry) 3-0

60kg:

David Oliver Joyce (St Michaels Athy) beat Sean McComb (Holy Trinity) 2-1.

91 kg:

Darren O’Neill, Paulstown beat Bernard O’Reilly, Portlaoise, unanimous

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