Boxing: Devastating Lee takes first step

ANDY LEE took his first step towards Olympic qualification with a fourth round victory over up-and-coming Patrick Murray from the St Matthews club in Ballyfermot to retain his middleweight title at the Star National senior boxing championships finals at the Stadium last night.

And Henry Coyle from Mayo sensationally stripped James Moore of his welterweight title. Coyle was never behind in a close contest that had the participants tied until the final round before edging clear in a thrilling fourth round to deprive the Arklow man of a fourth successive title.

It was a convincing performance from Lee, the 20-year-old Limerick man, who did not raise the roof ­ indeed he hardly rose a sweat ­ en route to his second title but it came as no surprise when the Dubliner failed to leave his corner when the bell rang for the fourth round.

Lee, who had his first fight since last May, when he outpointed Derryman Eamonn O'Kane in the semi-finals a week earlier, was ultra cautious in the opening round, stalking his man, sizing him up and stealing enough clean punches to catch the eye of the judges and win the opening round 3-1.

"I was in a no-win situation. I was expected to win this contest decisively but you cannot afford to underestimate anyone.

"I opened up in the second round and it felt good," he said reflecting on how he took the fight by the scruff of the neck in the second round, scored with some devastating punches to the head and body of Murray, who did well to weather the storm now brewing as Lee won the round 8-1.

The third round was all about Lee as he dished out combinations, punctuated with a deadly accurate right hand and the referee called Murray aside at the end of the round to inspect the swelling underneath his left eye.

Murray went back to his corner trailing 17-2 and he elected to stay in his corner when the bell sounded for the final round.

The shock of the night came in the welterweight final when Henry Coyle outpointed the 2001 world championship bronze medallist James Moore, in a thrilling final.

The Mayo man, bronze medallist at last year's world military championships, took everything Moore could throw at him and came back with the right responses in the opening two rounds. The first round, as a result, was marked even at 1-1.

An action packed second round had the crowd on their feet but still the fight was tied 6-6. Coyle broke the stalemate to lead 11-10 at the end of the third.

And the crowd were still on their feet for the fourth which Coyle deservedly won 6-2 to complete the upset of the night.

Conor Ahern claimed the vacant light flyweight title by virtue of an impressive 17-8 victory over the reigning national junior champion Ross Hickey from the Grangecon club.

Hickey was on the floor from a slip in the opening seconds, but his next visit to the canvas at the end of the second round was more serious at the end of a left hook to the head and a big right cross to the chin but it did not warrant a count from referee Seamus Kelly and the bell came too soon for Ahern to discover if he had really hurt his opponent.

In between Ahern, who won a gold medal at the multi nations in Cork, threw all the combinations, got through with most, and landed a successions of clean punches to win the first round 4-1 and the second 4-3.

Hickey, with ground to make up, tried to take the fight to his opponent in the third round and, while he did well early on, hooking with the right hand, Ahern dominated the second half of the round and scored with some good shots to the head and body at the end of the round to win it 5-0.

Now Ahern had just the right platform to display his talents but he proved a bit too flashy for the referee who cautioned him about his moves and he settled down to draw the round 4-4 and take the title 17-8.

Paul Hyland became the first champion to retain his title when he outpointed Thomas Lee 17-14 to hold on to his flyweight crown with the Galway man wondering just where it all went wrong.

Thomas Lee set the early pace with some good left right combinations but he left himself open to a deadly accurate left hand from the defending champion.

But a 5-3 lead at the end of the first round appeared a bit harsh on Lee who did most of the work in that opening stanza. Hyland won the second 4-3 and it appeared as if the fight was slipping away from Lee.

The third round was a thriller as Lee battled his way back with some spectacular combinations to the head and body to draw the bout 12-12 going into the final round. Hyland won the last round 5-2 to clinch victory.

And, on what was a great night for the red corner boxers, Martin Lindsey claimed the featherweight crown vacated by Stephen Ormond, with a 17-8 victory over the Moate ABC teenager, Eamon Touhey.

Light Flyweight: C Ahern (Baldoyle) beat R Hickey (Grangecon) 17-8. Flyweight: P Hyland (Golden Cobra) beat T Lee (Oughterard) 17-14. Featherweight: M Lindsey (Immaculata) beat E Touhey (Moate) 17-8. Middleweight: A Lee (St. Francis) beat P Murray (St. Matthews) Retd Rd 4. Welterweight: H Coyle (Geesala) beat J Moore (Arklow) 17-12. Bantamweight: E Donovan (St. Michael's Athy) bt B Gillen (Holy Trinity) 19-16 2 Lightheavyweight: K Eagan (Neilstown) bt M Lee (Oughterard) 8-2. Lightweight: A Murray (Cavan) bt N Monteith (Dockers) 15-5. Light Welter: P McCloskey (St Canices) bt M Kelly (Dealgan) 17-16. Heavyweight: A Reynolds (St Josephs, Sligo) bt M McDonagh (Brosna) RSC round 2. Super Heavy: M Rogan (Immaculata) bt J Upton (Crumlin) RSC round 2.

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