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Irish fighters strike gold as Euros pay off

THE Irish schoolboy boxing squad pulled no punches as they returned home weighed down with three gold, one silver and six bronze medals from the recent 10th European Schoolboy Championship finals in Anapa, Russia.

Among those flying the Irish flag was the newly-crowned European gold medallist Michael Nevin, cousin of Olympic silver medalist John Joe Nevin, and James Clarke, who won a bronze medal. "It was an amazing experience to win the gold medal" said Nevin. "There was a lot of hard work involved like training twice a day in the summer. The standard was very high (over there) so it was great to win the gold."

Nevin became the second boxer from Portlaoise BC, under the guidance of Pat Ryan, to win a European schoolboy title, a feat no other Irish boxing club has achieved.


"I would love to be at the Olympics in Rio in four years' time," concluded the Mountrath Community School student.

Clarke, a third-year student at Tallaght Community College, was in awe of the whole experience. "I thought it was great, the standard was much tougher than in Ireland. Winning the bronze medal feels really good, it was deadly and I'm very proud to wear the Irish jersey."

Boxing since the age of nine at Kilnamanagh BC under the watchful eyes of coaches Stephen Kavanagh and Mick Fagan, Clarke added: "The plan at the moment is to win the All-Ireland cadets and qualify for next year's world youth championship.

"My dream is to box in the Olympics. The next Olympics in Brazil may be to soon, the Olympics in eight years' time is my goal."

Ireland's team manager Paddy Gallagher has managed the schoolboys' development since Dominic O'Rourke, IABA director of boxing, instigated the schoolboy squad three years ago.

Paddy said: "It was absolutely brilliant. The whole idea of these squads was to achieve medals of international level and it's great that 10 fellas came home with medals regardless of the colours, it was brilliant. The plan is to give the schoolboys international experience.

"These guys will be hoping at the next Olympics or the Olympics after to be the senior boxers, the new Kenny Egans and your John Joe Nevins. In order to give them that experience at international level you've got to give it to them when they're growing up, that way when they get to senior level they'll have no fear of anyone," added Gallagher.