Joyce and Duncliffe set for battle royal

Brendan Mooney

The Under-21 bantamweight final was a thriller, fought out at a furious pace and, for three rounds, the scoring was level until Joyce edged clear in the last two to take the title.

“Paul has learned a lot from the U-21 final. He has changed his style and if he continues to box as he is doing he can take this one,” Billy O’Donovan, Leeside/Lough coach, insisted.

Kevin Fennessy (Clonmel) is another boxer who has come through a good underage programme with his club and he will be the favourite for the lightweight title tonight against Paul Barbour (Shamrock).

If things go to plan, John Paul McDonagh (St Paul’s, Waterford) could make it a memorable night for Munster boxing.

McDonagh has been labelled the successor to another St Paul’s great, Neil Gough. Like Gough, who won several national senior titles and represented Ireland at every level, he is a classy southpaw and one can see Gough’s influence as well as that of head coach Seamus Cowman in his performance.

His opponent for tonight’s lightweight final, John Wallace (Dungloe, Donegal), pulled off a major shock when he beat Patrick A Ward (Galway) in their semi-final.

Oisin Kelly (Portlaoise) continues to impress and will be fancied to lift the welterweight title at the expense of Fergal Redmond (Arklow) Gezim Disha (St Matthews) has been landing some big punches throughout those championships but they failed to stop Sean Shevlin (Dealgan) last weekend and he tired in the last two rounds and did well to hold on for a victory.

Noel Higgins (Loughglynn) will provide even stronger opposition tonight and if the Lithuanian does not get in early with the big shots he could find himself hanging on again.

Peter Lee (Oughterard) has been around the block once or twice and will be hoping for better luck against another experienced boxer, John Sweeney (Dungloe, Donegal), in the heavyweight final.

At super heavyweight, Scott Belshaw (City of Lisburn) has been creating quite a stir.

The 6’6” giant has lost four stone in recent months but still weighs in at 17 stone. He will provide a towering

opponent for the game 5’5” Paul O’Rourke (Ballybrack), who will be relying on strength and speed to get him through.

History will be made at these championships when a number of national novice intermediate women’s championships finals will be included on the bill.

At 54kg, Marilyn Band (Monivea ABC) will meet Jennifer Campbell (St Francis ABC, Limerick), while Caroline Reilly (Cavan ABC) meets Tracy Scullion (Sarsfields ABC, Co Down) at 60kg.

The 75kg final will provide an exciting contest between Michelle Brady (Cavan ABC) and Lavinia Heffernan (Fermoy ABC), with Caroline Connolly (Raphoe) paired against Nadia Barry Fugistad (Bantry).

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