DAVID OLIVER JOYCE claimed the featherweight berth on the Irish team for next month’s European Boxing Championships when outpointing Carl Frampton in a box-off at the Central Council Tournament in the National Stadium at the weekend.
Joyce thought he had missed the boat when a virus forced him to pull out of the open tournament, which was staged to help select the team.
He was thrown a lifeline, however, when Frampton’s camp agreed to the box-off. Fans were treated to a thriller and the High Performance head coach, Billy Walsh, was delighted.
“This was a fight worthy of a senior final,” he said. “We had Carl Frampton, a silver medallist at last year’s EU championships, in against David Oliver Joyce who won the gold medal at this year’s EU championships so, from the point of view of quality, we could not have had two better boxers in there.
“Either one could justifiably have gone to Liverpool with hopes of a medal. We are talking about real quality and, from my point of view, it is great to have that type of quality available.”
Ireland will be represented in nine weights in Liverpool (November 6-15). Conor Ahern will make his third European appearance at flyweight, joined by Ryan Lindberg (bantamweight), David Oliver Joyce (featherweight), Ross Hickey (lightweight), John Joe Joyce (light welterweight), Willie McLoughlin (welterweight), Eamonn O’Kane (middleweight), Darren O’Neill (light heavyweight) and Con Sheehan (heavyweight).
Con Sheehan is back in full training this week. The Clonmel teenager suffered a slight injury to his left hand in the final of the open tournament but it only required rest.
This day week, the team will travel to a training camp at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield where they will put the finishing touches to their preparations for the European championships. The teams from France and Sweden will join them there for sparring.
Meanwhile the members of the Irish team have been putting the finishing touches to their preparations for the world youth championships in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The championships begin next Saturday and, according to coach Jim Moore, they have had some excellent sparring sessions with the Ukrainian, French and German teams.
Andy Lee was the last Irish boxer to medal at this level. He won a silver medal at what was then the world junior championships in Cuba in 2002 but Jim Moore feels that this team can bridge the gap.
“The target is two medals and I believe we have the talent and experience in the squad to achieve that,” he said.
Irish team: Flyweight: Ruari Dalton (St John’s Belfast); Bantamweight: Tyrone McCullagh (Illies GG); Featherweight: Tyrone McKenna (Oliver Plunkett, Belfast); Lightweight: Ray Moylett (St Anne’s, Westport); Light Welter: Jamie Kavanagh (Crumlin); Welterweight: David Joyce (St Michael’s, Athy); Middleweight: Bernard Roe (Dublin Docklands); Light Heavyweight: Thomas McCarthy (Oliver Plunkett, Belfast).
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