Egan ready for EU battle

IRISH captain Ken Egan believes this week’s European Union Boxing Championships in Poland will provide Ireland with the perfect preparation for the Olympic Games.

The Irish senior boxing squad arrived in Cetniewo yesterday boosted by the gold medal-winning performances of Katie Taylor and Darren O’Neill at the Ahmet Comert Cup in Turkey.

Both boxers claimed double gold in the weekend’s finals in Istanbul, with world and European lightweight champion Taylor receiving a walkover after England’s Amanda Coulson was forced to withdraw through injury.

Meanwhile O’Neill, a school teacher and ex-Kilkenny minor hurler boxing out of the Paulstown club in Kilkenny, completed the double after outclassing Iranian Suair Mahdi 14-1 in the Turkish capital on Saturday afternoon.

The wins were all the more

remarkable as Taylor had moved up from lightweight to light welter, and O’Neill, as part of the first Irish men’s team to compete at the prestigious Multi Nations event, went from middleweight to light heavyweight.

With the Olympics two months away, the Irish fighters are adopting a cautious approach.

Egan, who has qualified for the Olympic Games, along with Darren Sutherland, John Joe Joyce, John Joe Nevin and Paddy Barnes, all reigning Irish senior champions, have been included in the Irish EU squad in Ireland’s last competitive tournament before Beijing.

Jamie Conlon, David Oliver Joyce, Eric Donovan, Willie McLoughlin and Con Sheehan have also been named in the panel which contains seven Irish senior champions. Joyce and Sheehan both claimed Irish titles last January.

Egan said: “We won five medals at last year’s EU Championships and we are very proud of that but the important thing for us in Poland this week is to get some good competitive bouts under our belts and to stay injury free ahead of the Olympics.

“A lot of the countries competing in Poland will use these Championships as part of their Beijing preparations and we are expecting a very competitive tournament which is exactly what we need. After this is over the focus of attention will switch full time to the Olympic Games.”


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