Galway’s Kieran Molloy and Mayo’s Sean Conroy are guaranteed two bronze medals at the AIBA World Junior Championships after producing two magnificent quarter-final wins in Kiev, Ukraine on Thursday.
The Connaught duo (Oughterard BC and Ballyhaunis BC) beat Australia’s Joshua McKay and Uzbekistan’s Bakhronjon Fozilov on unanimous decisions to march into Saturday’s semi-finals at the Palace of Sports.
Willie Donoghue is also assured of at least bronze after producing a career-best display to beat Georgii Ivanov of the Ukraine.
Molloy, coolness and composure personified, outclassed Aussie lightweight McKay, particularly in the first round, to record his third straight victory in the Ukrainian capital.
Moldova’s Vladislav Tugui awaits in the last-four on Saturday.
Conroy produced another fiery, hard punching performance against Fozilov – the Uzbek took some big shots in the second and third rounds – to also record a third win at the 57-nation Championships.
He’ll now meet Vitaliy Bakhmatov in the last-four. Conroy and Bakhmatov need no introduction as they clashed in the semi-finals of the European Schoolboy Championships in Grozny, Russia in 2011, the Russian middleweight edging a close contest (6-4) in his own backyard en route to gold.
Thursday’s wins guarantees our first medals at this level since Joe Ward won gold at the 2009 AIBA World Junior Championships in Armenia.
Irish team manager Jim Walsh hailed both performances.
“The boys were absolutely magnificent. They were in against two tough opponents and they showed their class to record two excellent win, brilliant performances from both boxers,” he said.
In the evening session, Willie Donoghue did the business in spectacular style to beat home favourite Georgii Ivanov of the Ukraine on a unanimous decision.
The St Michael’s Athy dynamo never let up from the opening to closing bell, attacking Ivanov with two,three and four punch combinations throughout to dominate all three rounds.
Ivanov did manage to throw in quite a few replies to Donoghue’s constant aggression, but every response was returned with interest as the Irish light-fly triumphed on his way to a last-four clash with Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Lopez.
“I am so happy to win a medal for Ireland. It’s a dream come true. This means so much to me and my family,” said Donoghue after his victory.
Irish captain John Joyce, a team-mate of Donoghues at the St Michael’s Athy BC, went out on a controversial split decision to Korea’s Byeonghee Jang.
Joyce appeared to be en route to chalking up Ireland’s fourth win of the day after using his counter-punching skills to take the first frame, but Jang came back strongly in the second.
Joyce, the 2011 European Schoolboy champion, surely did enough to win the third, but the judges gave the Korean the nod, a decision which Irish coaches Billy McClean and Tom Hayes described as “very disappointing.”
Friday is a rest day at the Championships. The semi-finals and finals will be held on Saturday and Sunday.
AIBA World Junior Championships :
September 12th Q/Finals
48kg Willie Donoghue (Ireland) beat Georgii Ivanov (Ukraine) 3-0
60kg Kieran Molloy (Ireland) beat Joshua McKay (Australia) 3-0
63kg John Joyce (Ireland) lost to Byeonghee Jang (Korea) 1-2
75kg Sean Conroy (Ireland) beat Bakhronjon Fozilov (Uzbekistan) 3-0
September 14th S/Finals
48kg Willie Donoghue (Ireland) v Jonathan Lopez (Puerto Rico)
60kg Kieran Molloy (Ireland) v Vladislav Tugui (Moldova)
75kg Sean Conroy (Ireland) v Vitaliy Bakhmatov (Russia)