Final date with Taylor the prize as challengers lock horns
Published 20/11/2015 | 02:30
A shot at reigning Olympic champion Katie Taylor will provide extra incentive for Tipperary's Shauna O'Keeffe and Kayleigh Murrihy-McCormack of Clare at the National Stadium in Dublin this evening.
"I've been dreaming of meeting Katie Taylor since I was fourteen," said O'Keeffe ahead of the all-Munster semi-final with Murrihy-McCormack.
Both women clash on the opening night of the National Elites, with the winner advancing to face Taylor in next Friday's lightweight final.
The gold medallist from the 2012 London Olympics has received a bye into the 60kg decider. The five-time AIBA World Elite champion has claimed four Elite belts in the past. But all her wins have been via walkovers because no one has entered against her.
However, O'Keeffe and Murrihy-McCormack, both 21 and both current and ex-Senior and Intermediate champions insist that this year, for the first time, Taylor is going to have box for an Irish belt.
The Tipp and Clare duo have met three times in the past, with O'Keeffe, Clonmel BC, beating the Kilfenora BC lightweight in two of those outings.
The make-up of five women's finals will be resolved tonight to pave the way for next Friday's deciders, where Ceire Smith will clash with Commonwealth Games silver medallist Michaela Walsh.
The Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) are running the National Elites twice this year to assist Ireland's boxers heading into the Olympic qualifiers in 2016 and the men's bouts begin tomorrow evening.
Michael O'Reilly has had a spectacular year by any standard. The Portlaoise BC middleweight won European Games gold and World Elite bronze in 2015 to move to No 3 in the AIBA rankings in the 75kg class.
He was controversially denied a place at Rio 2016 following a "defeat" to Egypt's Hosam Abdin in a box-off for a place at the Olympics at the World Championships in Qatar.
O'Reilly will be aiming to bounce back from that outrageous result to get another opportunity at Olympic qualification, but will come up against formidable opposition in the middleweight division at the National Elites.
Meanwhile, with Paddy Barnes having qualified for Rio in the light-fly through the World Series of Boxing, Brendan Irvine, who claimed his first Elite belt at light-fly earlier this year, has moved up to fly and could meet Limerick's Myles Casey, the defending champion.