THE Bangles and A-Ha were top of the charts the last time a Ryston man won a national senior title but that all changed on Friday night last when Hughie Myers claimed the national elite senior title at 49kg, beating TJ Waite from Cairn Lodge in the first final of the night, writes Ruth Chambers.
Later in the evening the Newbridge club claimed a second title when an overjoyed Dervla Duffy got the better of Michelle Lynch in the 54kg final and in between Ross Hickey defended his 64kg crown.
There were five Kildare boxers in action at the National Stadium and it was a great night for the aforementioned three but for Chris Phelan and Roy Sheahan it was a night of disappointment.
Phelan was up against Olympic bronze medalist Michael Conlon and was comfortably beaten, while Sheahan took on Jason Quigley in the 75kg decider and when the decision went to the latter it meant a very lean championships for St Michael’s, Athy.
Tommy Tobin beat Michael Carruth in the 1986 lightweight final to ensure glory for the Newbridge club and Hugh Myers was attempting to do likewise last Friday night.
With London Olympian Paddy Barnes not able to take part due to illness Myers, who was beaten in the final by Barnes in 2012, seized the opportunity against Waite.
The Mullingar man was comfortable throughout and his three and four punch combinations, culminating in a big overhand right two minutes in, opened up a 4-2 advantage by the end of the first.
Waite upped the ante second and had his moments, particularly with a neat left-right combo mid-way through a frame which finished level.
However, Myers was again on top on the third and there was no hiding the Ryston man’s delight afterwards.
“I’ve only been with Ryston four years and my main aim when I went there was to win my first Irish senior title with them. They stuff they have taught me is unreal. They always knew I had potential and I’m so happy to bring a title back to Newbridge today,” Myers told the Leinster Leader.
In the run up to the finals Myers stayed five nights a week in Newbridge with his coach Paddy Hughes and he was delighted his hard work and sacrifice paid off. His aim now is to make the Irish team for the upcoming European championships but he is likely to have to face the wee man from Belfast before that can become a reality.
“There will probably be a box off with Paddy now again. May the best man win in that. He’ll be looking for a place on the European team but I’ll be fighting for that too.
“I always feel confident going in to any fight but I’m always the underdog against Paddy. I’ll go in there to enjoy the fight and if I win sure that’s a bonus and if I don’t I’m in the ring against one of the best in the world so there will be no shame in losing,” added Hughie.
Of course Myers wasn’t the only person who made huge sacrafices for national glory. His club mate Dervla Duffy was close to packing it in after she lost out to Michaela Walsh in the 57kg final last year but twelve months later and she was on top of the world.
The Monaghan native went down a weight to 54kg and walked out of the stadium with a national title. Duffy stopped Michelle Lynch from the Golden Gloves club in the second. She was 12-2 up when the four rounder was halted.
“It’s just amazing really! It’s like all my dreams have come through. I said last year that if I didn’t come back and win it I’d think about packing it in completely. I do dedicate my life to boxing and now it really has paid off,” admitted Duffy afterwards.
She added: “To be beaten in two senior finals is not a nice feeling and to win another one without fighting a final takes the shine of winning it but this has really put the polish back on it.
“I was well wound up going in to the ring. The blood, sweat and tears I’ve put in over the last year between weight, training and missing out on normal things has been unreal. My granny is in hospital in Dublin and I haven’t been able to get up to see her even and it was stuff like that that I was thinking about when I got in the ring so I was very revved up.
“The last few weeks have been hard and intense but we have booked a holiday, we’re going to Egypt for a week and I can’t wait to go and eat and lie in the sun!,” she added.
The bout of the night came fourth in to the programme and involved Narraghmore man Ross Hickey against European champion and Mayo man Ray Moylette.
Hickey claimed his third title on the trot after an epic encounter with the Mayo man. The Grangecon southpaw edged the first 4-3, but was rocked backward by a big right from Moylette in the second round of an explosive lightwelter weight final.
Moylette, ranked number eight in the world by AIBA, won the second 5-4 to level it at 8-8, but the classy Hickey, working superbly behind his jab, won the third 7-3 to earn a 15-11 decision.
“It was good to come out like I did in the last round this time. I stuck to my boxing. He was doing a bit of showboating but I just kept the head and concentrated on the job in hand and I’m delighted with the win,” said Hickey afterwards.
He added: “You’re not going to get any extra scores by showboating. I stick to my boxing and he (Moylette) was allowed do whatever he wanted to. I knew once I stuck to my boxing that I’d be alright. I made sure to land with the left, keep the guard up and keep moving.
“Coming in to the last round I knew I had to I had to throw more shots, more combinations. The first two rounds was a lot of one/twos while in the third I had to throw a lot of combinations. They were landing and that’s what got me the scores.”
It wasn’t all glory for Kildare boxers on the night however. Ryston’s Chris Phelan had the unenviable task of taking on Michael Conlon, who, as expected, comfortable came out on top for the second year on the trot.
Tasting final defeat yet again was a bitter pill to swallow for Phelan but the Kildare Town man is determinded to dust himself down and come back and hopefully claim the title next February.
“To be beaten in the national finals is tough enough and to be beaten three times is tougher. I couldn’t get the shots off and by the time I got things going it was a bit too late.
I’ll definitely be back next year. I just need to knuckle down and get back to the drawing board,” he admitted.
“I’m only boxing a few years and hopefully I’ll get my chance, not just in Ireland but internationally too. Mick (Conlon) is number three in the world and an Olympic bronze medalist so to get in to the ring with him is great.
“I was beaten in three national finals when I was younger and it took me until the fourth one to get a title so hopefully I’ll be fourth time lucky with the senior too. If that’s not the case I’ll keep going. I will get one. Three years in a row is a bit sickening but hopefully not year will be different,” remarked the optimistic Ryston man.
Roy Sheahan was the last of the Kildare men in to the ring when he took on Finn Valley’s Jason Quiqley in the middleweight final. Quigley, the European Under 23 champion and the man who eliminated London 2012 Olympian Darren O’Neill in the last-eight, beat former Elite champion Sheahan 15-6 and afterwards the St Michael’s man admitted it is hard to keep going after such defeats.
“I’m not sure what’s next. As I said, I’m still light at this weight but we’ll see what happens. It’s hard to keep going especially financially and with having kids. I have two kids to look after at home and they are my main priority,” he remarked.
“I gave it my all. I’m probably still a bit too light for the weight but that’s the way it goes. I was 72.7 (kilograms) on Wednesday night and I didn’t even have to train to make the weight yesterday.
“I knew well it was going to be a cagey fight starting off and whoever got that point or two ahead was probably going to dominate the fight. He got the two points to lead in the first round, he had a better start than me and that’s the way it goes.
I thought I could have won the last round, maybe not win the fight but I thought it was a lot closer than 15-6,” added Sheahan.
Three titles from five. Two for Ryston and one for a Wicklow club and a Kildare man. Not a bad night at the National Stadium for the Lilywhites. Not a bad night at all!