32 of the AIBA World Youth Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria on Monday’s opening day of the Championships which this year also act as the only qualifying event for the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics in August.
The current AIBA World Junior champion beat Iraq’s Kadhim Al-Saedi over three rounds with all three judges scoring it 29-28 for Donoghue who now meets Domenik Hirsch, the champion of Germany on Thursday.
“Willie got the team off to a winning start. All three judges went with him and you can’t do better than that. It was a good performance in his first bout here,” said Irish team manager Liam Brereton.
Gary Cully, Tiernan Bradley and Kristina O’Hara will be in action today (Tuesday). Cully, the current European Youth champion, and Bradley will be between the ropes in the evening session.
There are three Irish competitors in the Women’s tournament with Kristina O’Hara from the Emerald BC in Belfast the first in action Tuesday when she meets Great Britain’s Crystal Barker in the 51kg Flyweight division. Macroom’s Christina Desmond and Geesala’s Ciara Ginty will be in action on Thursday so more on their chances later in the week.
O’Hara’s English opponent, Crystal Barker is a member of the GB Elite Development squad in Sheffield preparing for the 2016 Olympics in Rio and regularly spars with Olympic Gold medallist Nicola Adams and lightweight Natasha Jonas as well as coach Amanda Coulson so a very tough opener for the young Belfast woman.
That said let us not forget that Kristina is the current European Union titleholder having struck Gold in Hungary in 2013. Speaking of her career to-date, she told SportsNewsIreland from Sofia :
” I’ve won 9 Irish titles including Intermediate All-Irelands and Cadets from ages 11-18 . I’m from West Belfast. No one in my family that I know of has boxed . I have 2 brothers and neither is interested in boxing. Of course first and foremost I’d like to thank my coaches at home and family as well my friends in the boxing community.
My Europeans were hard enough I had to beat (the champions of ) France in my quarter-final ; Italy in my semi-final and Turkey in final. For all the support I have had to-date I’d like to thank Team Manager Liam Brereton, coaches Gerry Storey and Anita Just, sponsors Quick Park and the Irish Sports Council as well as (Director of Boxing) Dominic O’Rourke”.
Kristina was one of only two boxers to be honoured at the Belfast City Hall on 28th March when she was awarded the Northern Ireland Junior Female Sports Star of the Year title at the Belfast City Council’s Sports 2014 Awards Ceremony. The great Wayne McCullough was the only other boxer honoured on that prestigious occasion. O’Hara’s award came after a great domestic season was followed by that European Union Gold in Hungary.
So irrespective of what happens in Sofia , Kristina is a potential Irish star of the future and will greatly benefit from the experience gained in the Bulgarian capital not only from her own bouts but watching other future opponents in action.
AIBA World Youth Championships Sofia Bulgaria:
April 14th (last 64)
52kg Willie Donoghue (Ireland) beat Kadhim Al-Saedi (Iraq) 3-0
April 15th (last 64)
56kg Gary Cully (Ireland) v Voldymyr Fedora (Ukraine)
60kg Tiernan Bradley (Ireland) v Liam Wilson (Australia)
W51kg Kristina O’Hara (Ireland) v Crystal Barker (GB)
April 16th (last 64)
64kg Wayne Kelly (Ireland) v Ayan Kalibekov (Kazakhstan)
69kg Johnny Joyce (Ireland) v Mohamed Hikal (Egypt)
April 17th (last 32)
52kg Willie Donoghue (Ireland) v Domenik Hirsch (Germany)
91kg Michael Gallagher (Ireland) v Evangeles Frangos (Canada)
W60kg Ciara Ginty (Ireland) v Nikol Mladenova (Bulgaria)
W75kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) v Ekaternina Serova (Russia)
April 18th (last 32)
75kg Luke Thomas (Ireland) v Ramil Gadzhyiev (Ukraine) or Feng-Chin Ling (Chinese Taipei)
April 19th (last 32)
49kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) v Artur Hoyhannisyan (Armenia) or Wonho Kim (Korea)
81kg Cormac Long (Ireland) v Karoly Berk (Hungary)
51kg Kristina O’Hara (Emerald)
60kg Ciara Ginty (Geesala)
75kg Christina Desmond (Macroom)
49kg Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s)
52kg Willie Donoghue (St Michael’s Athy)
56kg Gary Cully (St David’s)
60kg Tiernan Bradley (Sacred Heart)
64kg Wayne Kelly (Ballinacargy)
69kg Johnny Joyce (St Michael’s Athy)
75kg Luke Thomas (Watergrasshill)
81kg Cormac Long (Rathkeale)
91kg Michael Gallagher (Finn Valley)
Team Manager Liam Brereton
Coaches: Billy McClean, Tom Hayes, Gerry Storey, Anita Just
There will be regular updates from Sofia throughout the tournament oniaba.ie and LIVE streaming via the OFFICIAL site:
So Good Luck to the Irish team and Management in Sofia from SportsNewsIreland and the entire Irish boxing community.