REIGNING Irish champion Christopher O'Reilly's ability to defend his title is hanging in the balance after the Bracken BC ace was forced to undergo keyhole surgery on his troublesome right knee.
The talented youngster, who turned 15 on Sunday, suffered ligament damage during training for the European Championships before Christmas, but the injury wasn't diagnosed until after he had come within a whisker of winning a medal at the games in Russia.
Coach Kieran O'Neill said: 'Going on reports the operation went without a hitch and hopefully Christopher will make a full recovery and we can get him back in the gym this week. 'But the Nationals are only seven or eight weeks away and that will be a tall order. He has boxed an awful lot in the last four years and it would be no harm if he got a rest.'
In O'Reilly's absence a number of his clubmates have been in Dublin League action in the past few weeks, notably Shane Duffy who won his Lightweight (60kg) decider in some style against Clint Grant (St Saviours). The Bracken boxer made a slow start and deservedly trailed by four points after round one, but he narrowed the gap to the minimum with a big second round and eventually won on a 14-13 scoreline.
O'Neill said: 'It's taken Shane a while to mature and there was only a toss of the coin between them, but some of his punching and his determination was brilliant.' Eleven-year-old Aaron Walsh came through four fights to earn his place in the Boy 1 decider whether he was eventually beaten 17-15 by Tommy Maughan (Palmerstown).
The pair were running neck and neck for most of the contest, but in the latter stages Aaron dropped his hands slightly, allowing his opponent to pick up a couple of cheap points which proved decisive. Nevertheless, the Bracken coaching staff are delighted with the youngster's progress, especially given that he was fighting 2kg below the 42kg limit in the division.
Attention now turns to the Bracken BC show in the Bracken Court Hotel on Saturday February 26th, with Gerard Whitehouse, Shane Egan, Shane and Conor Duffy and some of the club's leading female boxers all expected to be in action. The boxing starts at 7.30pm and tickets - priced €10 - are available from Brendan Purtill.