Limerick will have four representatives in the Elite National Championships semi-finals at the National Stadium in Dublin this weekend.
Derek Duhig, Matthew Tinker and Krys Sikora, all of the St Francis BC in Limerick, and Moira McEligott, who boxes out of the Rathkeale BC, will be in action.
All four are facing tough tasks, Duhig in particular, as he’s in against London 2012 Olympian and 2010 European Elite silver medallist Darren O’Neill.
Tinker meets Donal Ward in the light-heavy class. The corresponding semi-final sees three-time AIBA World Elite, Youth and Junior champion Joe Ward, who is aiming for his four successive Elite crown before his 21st birthday, go head-to-head with Oakleaf BC stand out Sean McGlinchey.
Sikora, meantime, faces former Commonwealth Games silver medallist Stephen Ward. Lynne McEnery-O’Shea and Maeve Clarke get proceedings underway on Friday evening in the women’s light-fly class.
Friday’s men’s light-fly duels open with defending champion and No. 1 seed Hughie Myers and Thomas Waites, followed by Paddy Barnes and Blaine Dobbins.
Barnes – the last Irishman to beat him in the Elite Championships was Jimmy Moore (St Francis) in the 2006 final – missed the 2013 Championships because of an illness, and Myers, the 2012 European U/23 finalist, who Barnes beat by a four-point margin in the 2012 decider, stepped in and walked off with the vacant belt.
Barnes moved up to flyweight (48kg) for the AIBA World Championships in Almaty Kazakhstan last year, but has since dropped back down to the limit which has yielded all his greatest triumphs.
Myers – he defeated Waites to claim his first Elite belt on February 22nd last year – and Barnes weighed-in at exactly 48.9kg in last Friday’s general weigh-in.
The St John Bosco BC in Belfast will be looking to edge a step closer to retaining the flyweight (52kg) crown on Friday night. London 2012 bronze medallist Michael Conlan retained this belt for the club last year, but has since moved up a click to bantam.
His stable-mate, Sean Higginson, is in against Adam Courtney, while Chris Phelan, who Conlan beat in the 2013 flyweight final, is slated to clash with Ruairi Dalton.
Barry Walsh of the St Colman’s BC in Cork meets Conlan, who is ranked No. 2 in the World by AIBA at bantam, and 2013 World and European Youth bronze and silver medallist Kurt Walker will go three rounds with 2010 European Elite bronze medallist Tyrone McCullagh.
Defending lightweight champion Sean McComb had to dig deep against Declan Geraghty, who won the bantamweight crown last year before moving up to 60kg, last weekend.
The Holy Trinity BC man goes head-to-head Paulstown BC prospect Keith Flavin on Friday, while George Bates and former EU champion David Oliver Joyce, a favourite of Team Deutschland fans in the World Series of Boxing, are on the other side of the draw.
A place in the women’s light welter-weight final is up for grabs between Debbie O’Reilly and Kelly Harrington and Sarah Close and McElligott.
Meanwhile, 2011 European Elite champion Ray Moylette and Michael Nevin clash at 64kg. Moylette was happy to get rid of the cobwebs in his win over Sean Montgomery last week.
“I was glad to get that one out of the way. That was my first fight since the World Championships and it’s great to get the ring rust out of the system,” said the 2008 AIBA World Youth champion.
Dean Walsh, a nephew of Irish head coach Billy Walsh, and Rohan Date will await either Nevin or Moylette in the 64kg decider live on TG4 on March 7th.
Lynne McEnery-O’Shea and Maeve Clarke open Friday’s card. Lyn Harvey awaits the winner on March 8th.
A second session of semi-finals are to be decided on Saturday night. Boxing begins at 7pm each evening.
Twenty six male and female semi-finals will be decided this weekend.
2014 Elite National Championships National Stadium Dublin
February 28th S/Finals (7pm)
W48kg Lynne McEnery-O’Shea (St Paul’s) v Maeve Clarke (Ballinacarrow)
49kg Hughie Myers (Ryston) v Thomas Waite (Cairn Lodge)
49kg Blaine Dobbins ( St Joseph’s, Derry) v Paddy Barnes (Holy Family)
52kg Sean Higginson (St John Bosco) v Adam Courtney (St Mary’s)
52kg Chris Phelan (Ryston) v Ruairi Dalton (Holy Trinity)
56kg Michael Conlan (St John Bosco) v Barry Walsh (St Colman’s)
56kg Kurt Walker (Canal) v Tyrone McCullough (Holy Family)
60kg Sean McComb (Holy Trinity) v Keith Flavin (Paulstown)
60kg George Bates (St Mary’s) v David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy)
W64kg Debbie O’Reilly (Olympic) v Kelly Harrington (Corinthians)
W64kg Sarah Close (Holy Family GG) V Moira McElligott (Rathkeale)
64kg Ray Moylette (St Annes) v Michael Nevin (Portlaoise)
64kg Dean Walsh (St Josephs/St Ibars) v Rohan Date (St Paul’s)
March 1st S/Finals (7pm)
W69kg Joanna Barclay (Holy Family) v Claire Grace (Callan)
W69kg Laoise Traynor (Bray) v Aoife Hennigan (Swinford)
69kg Adam Nolan (Bray) v Fergal Redmond (Arklow)
69kg Stephen Donnelly (All Saints) v John Joe Joyce (St Michael’s Athy)
75kg Darren O’Neill (Paulstown) v Derek Duhig (St Francis)
75kg Christy Joyce (St Michael’s Athy) v Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise)
81kg Joe Ward (Moate) v Sean McGlinchey (Oakleaf, Derry)
81kg Matthew Tinker (St Francis) v Donal Ward (Lough Glynn)
W81kg+ Fiona Nelson (City of Belfast) v Lianne McAree-Murphy (Carrickmacross)
91kg Gary Sweeney (Olympic) v Bernard O’Reilly (Portlaoise)
91kg Stephen Ward (Monkstown, Antrim) v Krys Sikora (St Francis)
91kg+ Con Sheehan (Clonmel) v Niall Kennedy (Gorey)
91kg+ Joe Joyce (Moate) v Dean Gardiner (Clonmel)