LONDON 2012 bronze medallist Michael Conlan is within one win of a third successive title at the Elite Championships at Dublin's National Stadium.
The AIBA world No 3-ranked flyweight scored a 30-14 semi-final victory over his fellow Belfast fighter Ruairi Dalton.
Conlan now awaits the winner of tonight's Hugh Joyce versus Chris Phelan fight to see who will take the 52kg belt – he beat Phelan in the corresponding semi-final last year.
This was Conlan's first competitive contest in Ireland since winning Olympic bronze.
Speaking after a somewhat bad-tempered encounter, the 21-year-old, who has now beaten Dalton five times, predicted that Phelan will reach the final – and that he'll beat him.
"I was happy with that win because we're old rivals. He'll never beat me, it'll be 6-0, 7-0. I'm a bit angry with him because we were mates, kind of," said Conlan. "I'd beaten him four times, but in the ring he was giving me a bit of lip, calling me all kinds of bad names. I just laughed it off. It was 30-14 – I predicted I'd score 30 against him.
"I'm happy with the win, but I'll probably have a tougher fight in the final, Chris Phelan or Hughie Joyce. I can't see Chris losing, he's a really good boxer. We've fought twice, but it will be 3-0 over Chris, three Irish titles."
Meanwhile, Ryston BC's Hugh Myres is on the cusp of claiming the vacant light-flyweight belt following last night's victory over Adam Courtney.
The 49kg belt is lying idle at these championships after two-time Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes withdrew with the flu.
Mullingar-born Myres, a silver medal winner at the 2012 European U-23 Championships, who was beaten by Barnes in the 2012 final, earned a 17-11 verdict over Courtney.
Former Elite champions Declan Geraghty and Eric Donovan experienced mixed fortunes in the 56kg and 60kg respectively.
Geraghty stopped Derek Thorpe in the second, but Donovan was edged out by a point by Sean McComb.
The championships continue at the National Stadium tonight, when Ken Egan meets Davey Joe Joyce in the light-heavy semi-final.
The winner will face Joe Ward in next Friday's 81kg decider.
Current European light-welterweight champion Ray Moylette will meet defending champion Ross Hickey in next weekend's light-welterweight final.
Moylette overcame the hard-punching Sean Duffy, and Hickey, who is aiming for three in a row, upped the tempo after drawing the first frame 3-3 to beat Rohan Date by a three-point margin.
London 2012 Olympian Adam Nolan and Laoise Traynor, a team-mate of Nolan's at the Bray BC, progressed in the men's and women's welterweight class. Nolan, the defending champion, beat a fired-up Brian Brosnan in a veritable slug fest.