Tonight sees the start of the 2012 ‘Irish Daily Star’ sponsored National Elite Senior Championships at Dublin’s National Stadium.
Over 110 boxers have registered to compete at this event which – in Olympic year – will be one of the most important tournaments in Ireland this year.
Since Darren O’Neill , Michael Conlan and John Joe Nevin have already qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games, particular interest will revolve around the other seven divisions since the IABA and Head Coach Billy Walsh will be hoping that seven other Irish boxers can still qualify for London at the pencilled at the final European (Male) qualifier in Trabzon, Turkey between April 13th and 22nd.
Three Olympic qualifier places are available for women in the flyweight, lightweight and middleweight classes, at the World Championships in Qinhuangdao,China in May. Whilst Katie Taylor is a certainty to get one of the three Irish slots there will be some interesting bouts at the National Stadium over the next weeks to see whether Geesala’s Katie Rowland or Cavan’s Ceire Smith will be our Flyweight representative in China. Similarly a ‘battle royal’ between Drimnagh’s Sinead Kavanagh and Paulstown’s Lauragh O’Neill in the 75kg division.
Looking ahead to the Blue Riband tournament of Irish amateur boxing, head coach Billy Walsh, himself a seven-time Elite champion and Olympian, has this to say.
“The National Championships this year have the makings of the best Championships ever because there is so much at stake for so many boxers. The amount of talent we have in some weight divisions is phenomenal”
“To pick out just one weight, welterweight, we have Roy Sheahan, John Joe Joyce, Willie McLaughlin, all world class boxers. We have Jason Quigley dropping down to it and Michael O’Reilly – and then there’s Adam Nolan the current champion.
“What a bunch of talent in that division. Then you have the whole Kenny Egan and Joe Ward scenario at light-heavyweight. These Championships will be phenomenal, even for the guys that have qualified for the Olympics, Michael Conlan, John Joe Nevin and Darren O’Neill.
“I’m always making the point to the lads that to be National Senior champion – or Elite as it’s known nowadays – really is something special. I was lucky enough to win seven of them and every one of them is still very, very special to me.
“We are, of course, going to get a bit of juggling with the weights. The opportunity to qualify for the Olympics only comes around once every four years so guys are going to do whatever they can to make it.”
Ten-time Elite champion Ken Egan, who will be competing in his 12th consecutive Elite Championships, is eager to get between the ropes as he told iaba.ie :
“It’s hard to believe – twelve years gone in the blink of an eye. I had a good test last November just to see if the fire is still burning. It definitely is. It goes without saying that this year is a massive year for Irish
boxing and it will all begin at the National Stadium this weekend.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
The draw for the preliminary rounds was made this afternoon and is as follows:
2012 Elite Championships
Jan 20th Preliminaries : 7pm
60Kg: Paul Hyland )Holy Family GG) v Mark O’Hara (Holy Trinity)
60Kg: Jason Conroy (Crumlin) v James Fryers (Immaculata)
64Kg: Tyrone McKenna (Oliver Plunkett) v Philip Sutcliffe (Crumlin)
69Kg: Adam Nolan (Bray) v Craig McCarthy (St Pauls)
69Kg: Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise) v Emmet Brennan (Corinthians)
69Kg: Patrick Gallagher (Gleann) v Jason Quigley (Finn Valley)
69Kg: Gerard Griffin (Corpus Christi) v Willie McLaughlin (Illies GG)
69Kg: Roy Sheahan (St Michael’s Athy) v Mark Fitzpatrick (Riverstown)
69Kg: Fergal Redmond (Arklow) v Jamie Dowling (Paulstown)
69Kg: Noel Sommers (St Matthews) v Petru Ursu (Lucan)
69Kg: Kieran Forde (Monivea) v John Joe Joyce (St Michael’s Athy)
75Kg: Stephen O’Reilly (Twintowns) v Andrew Jennings ( St Catherines)
75Kg: Paul McDonnell (Neilstown) v Conrad Cummings (Holy Trinity)
75Kg: Conor Coyle (St Josephs) v John Corcoran (Cumlin)
75Kg: Shane Egan (Bracken) v Sean Shevlin (Holy Family )
January 21st Prelims (1pm)
56Kg: Sean McComb (Holy Trinity) v Orin McDermott (Finn Valley)
56Kg: Michael Nevin (Portlaoise) v Danny Coughlan (St Annes)
60Kg: Michael McDonagh (St Mary’s) v Winner 1
60Kg: Declan Geraghty (Crumlin) v Tyrone McCullagh (Holy Family GG)
60Kg: Eric Donovan (St Michael’s Athy) v James Tennyson (St Pauls)
60Kg: Winner 2 v David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy)
64Kg: Ross Hickey (Grangecon) v Winner 3
64Kg: Niall Murray (Gorey) v David Roche (Riverstown)
64Kg: Stephen Coughlan (Bray) v Stephen Carroll (Drimnagh)
64Kg: Martin Wall (Crumlin) v Ray Moylette (St Anne’s)
69Kg: Winner 4 v Winner 5
69Kg: Winner 6 v Winner 7
69Kg: Winner 8 v Winner 9
69Kg: Winner 10 v Winner 11