Sunday 25 September 2016

Walsh urges Irish fighters to make flying start in Baku

Bernard O'Neill

Published 15/06/2015 | 02:30

Katie Taylor has been ranked number one at lightweight for the last nine years. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Katie Taylor has been ranked number one at lightweight for the last nine years. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

IRELAND head coach Billy Walsh has stressed the importance of a positive start at the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan tomorrow.

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The 12-strong Irish squad, which includes Olympic champion Katie Taylor, weigh-in in Baku between 7.0 and 9.0 local time this morning.

The draw will be held after the weigh-in, with men's boxing beginning tomorrow in the Azeri capital. Women's bouts start on Friday in the flyweight class, while boxing in the 60kg class, Taylor's weight, begins next Sunday.

Limerick's Myles Casey could be the first Irish fighter in action tomorrow, as the flyweights are first on the programme.

The European Games is acting as a qualifier for men for the AIBA World Elite Championships in Qatar, which is a qualifier for the 2016 Olympics.

qualify

The top three boxers in each of the ten weight classes in Baku qualify for Qatar. The finalists qualify automatically.

It is understood that the semi-finalist who is beaten by the eventual gold medallist in Baku will also book a ticket for Qatar.

"The European Games is effectively a European Elite Championships which is always a very competitive tournament. All the top nations are here in Baku," said Walsh.

"The squad have had a very good training camp here for over a week. We visited the Crystal Hall venue today, it's about 40 minutes away from where we're staying. We'll be looking to make a good start. The squad are in fine form."

The European Games are not an Olympic qualifier for women. The first Olympic qualifier for females is at the World Elite Women's Championships in Kazakhstan in February.

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