SEVEN Kildare based boxers took to the ring in the Elite National Finals last Friday night but only one took home a title, writes Ruth O’Brien
Grangecon’s Ross Hickey took his second 64kg title on the trot but there was disappointment for the Ryston trio of Dervla Duffy, Hugh Myers and Chris Phelan and for the St Michael’s trio of John Joe Joyce, David Oliver Joyce and Christy Joyce.
Ryston youngster Hughie Myers, taking part in his first ever senior final, had his work cut out for him from the onset against 2008 Olympian Paddy Barnes in the light flyweight decider but the Carlow native certainly acquitted himself well.
Myers gave the Belfast man a real test, the first time the Olympic bronze medalist had been tested on home soil for a number of years. After the first round it was all square at 8-8, while Barnes edged the second 6-5. In the end Barnes prevailed 21-17 but nonetheless Myers was delighted with his performance.
“I’m disappointed but Paddy (Barnes) is one of the best boxers is the world. I wasn’t expecting to beat him. It was my first national final, I beat last year’s finalist (Evan Metcalfe) in the semi final and I put up a good show against Paddy (Barnes) so it has been a good year all round,” said the Ryston man.
He added: “Paddy has won a European gold and an Olympic bronze so it’s good to put on a show against him plus I was dying with the flu and only really recovered yesterday (Thursday). He’s strong and he’s fast so I’m very happy to get 17 scores against him. He has one of the best defences in the world so I’m delighted with that. I’ll be back again next year and Paddy will be gone probably because he’s getting to an age now where he’s struggling with weight.”
Meanwhile, Myers’ club mate Dervla Duffy was left reeling after her final against Barnes’ club mate Michaela Walsh. A public warning was the difference between the boxers in the 57kg final and Duffy insisted it was a warning she did not deserve, while she also encouraged her opponent to concentrate more on boxing, rather than running in the future after her 15-13 defeat.
“I’m very disappointed. I didn’t deserve the public warning and that was the two points that lost the fight for me. I’m stronger than her and I gave her a standing count. I had her on the back foot but all she does is run and in a big ring it’s very hard to cut her off when she’s running round the ring. She got stopped three times in the fight for running, so she should have got the public warning for running. It was a boxing competition not a running competition so she should go join an athletics club!” insisted Duffy.
Her club mate Chris Phelan was next in the ring against Michael Conlon, the Belfast man that has already qualified for the London Olympics and Phelan had it all to do.
The Kildare Town man, who also faced Conlon in the 2011 final, put up a great fight against the holder but in the end Conlon prevailed 19-11.
Conlan took the first round 6-2 and was 13-7 up at the end of the second. The Belfast boxer landed a stunning right in the final round but Phelan kept at it until the death and although disappointed, the Ryston man says losing can only make him stronger and even more determined to bounce back.
“I got beat in my first three ever Irish finals and I came back and won the fourth one so it took me a while to get the first one so I’ll be back. What doesn’t kill me will make me stronger. I’m only 19 and he (Michael Conlon) is going to the Olympics and I wish him all the best now and I hope he brings back the medal and hopefully next year will be my year,” said a gracious Phelan.
The first of the St Michael’s, Athy men in to the ring was David Oliver Joyce in the 60kg final against Michael McDonagh and despite an impressive third round Joyce was unable to get the better of his St Mary’s opponent.
After the first round Joyce trailed 4-2, while it was 11-7 for McDonagh after the second. The third round saw the Athy club man up the ante but it wasn’t enough and McDonagh advanced after a 17-14 victory and left Joyce’s Olympic dream in tatters.
“I never really got out of the blocks. It started to open up a bit in the second round but it was too late at that stage because I was four points down. He’s a strong kid and the way he boxes frustrated me but that’s boxing for you.
“It’s disappointing because it was the last qualifier, London is out of the question now. I was training pretty hard for it and I thought this could have been the year for me to take that senior (title). I’ve put so much in to it for the last couple of years and especially the last couple of months and I was looking forward to the next qualifier but it didn’t happen for me,” said Joyce afterwards.
Bray BC’s Adam Nolan provided the opposition for John Joe Joyce in the welterweight final and there was further disappointment for Athy as Nolan successfully defended his title.
Nolan, a native of Wexford, held a 12-10 lead going in to the final round and in the end also had two points to spare despite a superb third round from Joyce. Indeed many were left reeling after the result as many thought the 2008 Olympian did enough to win the welterweight title.
“The best man won and I want to congratulate Adam Nolan. He came out strong and I expected that but I had him in the second and third rounds but it wasn’t my day. Everyone can say I was hard done by but that doesn’t change anything. I was two points down going in to the last round and I thought I won that last round but it’s hard to know with the new scoring system and I won’t begrudge him (Nolan) the title and I won’t be a sore loser.
“I didn’t want to win it this year for myself, I wanted to win it for my niece. I was going to give her the belt. There’s no point saying I’m going to give it up because I won’t. I’ll win it next year for my niece,” vowed Joyce.
His brother Christy was the last of the Athy and indeed the Kildare based boxers in to the ring against Tommy McCarthy in the 91kg final. McCarthy recorded the only knockout of the night in the heavyweight final to ensure the Athy lads all went home empty handed.
Results: 49Kg: (Light-flyweight) Paddy Barnes (Holy Family) beat Hugh Myers (Ryston) 21-17; 57Kg: (Featherweight) Michaela Walsh (Holy Family) beat Dervla Duffy (Ryston) 15-13; 52Kg: (Flyweight) Michael Conlan (St John Bosco) beat Chris Phelan (Ryston) 19-11; 60Kg: (Lightweight) Michael McDonagh (St Mary’s) beat David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy) 17-14; 69Kg: (Welterweight) Adam Nolan (Bray) beat John Joe Joyce (St Michael’s Athy) 17-15; 64Kg: (Light-welterweight) Ross Hickey (Grangecon) beat Stephen Coughlan (Bray) 21-5; 91Kg: (Heavyweight) Tommy McCarthy (Oliver Plunkett) beat Christy Joyce (St Michael’s Athy) KO3.