Monday 24 October 2016

Irish heavyweight Darren O'Neill one step closer to Rio thanks to stoppage win

Sean McGoldrick

Published 12/04/2016 | 21:18

Darren O'Neill
Darren O'Neill

Kilkenny’s Darren O’Neill kept alive his dream of making it to a second Olympics when he stopped Sweden’s Gabriel Richards in the first round of their heavyweight bout at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Samsun, Turkey.

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O’Neill – who was the Irish team captain at the London Olympics - has no time to savior the victory, however, as he is in action in the quarter finals tomorrow against one of the gold medal favourites Abdulkadir Abdullayev from Azerbaijan.

The latter won the gold medal at the European Games in Baku last summer and was unbeaten in his six appearances in the World Series of Boxing last summer.

Tomorrow is also D day for the other five Irish boxers left in the hunt for Rio places. Like O’Neill David Oliver Joyce has just 24 hours to prepare for his bout against Vazgen Sufaryants from Belarus.

Flyweight Brendan Irvine faces a French opponent in his quarter final. Katie Taylor will be a hot favourite to reach the last four when she takes on Yvonne Rasmussen from Denmark.

After her giant killing exploits on Monday, Cork’s Christina Desmons faces a Hungarian opponent while Ceire Smith probably faces the toughest task as she takes on Tetyna Kob from the Ukraine.

Meanwhile, World bronze medallist Michael O’Reilly who suffered a shock elimination today has vowed to still make it to Rio.  He has one last chance at the final qualifying tournament in Baku.

He said on social media that he hurt his shoulder in the first round which restricted him during the contest.

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