Boxers Regan Buckley and Michael Nevin guarantee Ireland two medals at European Games
Team Ireland is guaranteed two medals at the European Games in Minsk, thanks to victories for boxers Regan Buckley and Michael Nevin tonight.
Jenny Egan advanced to the Women's K1 500 B Final with a season best time, and the athletics team produced some exciting performances to finish fourth in their match in the new Dynamic New Athletics (DNA) event. In badminton, Germany was too strong for Rachael Darragh in the Women's Singles.
Regan Buckley and Michael Nevin are each guaranteed at least a bronze medal* at the 2019 European Olympic Games in Minsk this week, after they stormed into the semi-finals following two 4-1 split decision wins over Spain’s Martin Molina Salvador and Turkey’s Serhat Guler respectively.
Pocket rocket Buckley was the first to secure a semi-final berth, as he kept a pacey Molina Salvador at bay with some nice jabs and quick footwork in an engrossing contest.
"I'm over the moon to be honest," he said afterwards. "It was a hard fought fight. He came forward and threw a lot of punches, I had to mix it up a bit. The first round I was controlling it very well and I was catching him on the counter.
"Then I was working off the jab in the last round and catching him with some nice shots and that’s what got me the fight. It’s all about the next step from here on out."
Michael Nevin also put in a superb display in the ring to win out on a 4-1 split decision over Turkey's Serhat Guler in his quarter-final bout. Nevin held the edge in two close opening rounds, despite Guler loading on the pressure as the second drew to a close. The Turk continued to push in the third, but Nevin held firm to secure a well-earned spot in the semi-final.
"I'm feeling good, I'm happy with my performance and it's on to the next one now!" he said afterwards. "It was a good fight, he was a strong opponent and I feel good. I have a bronze medal at least now and hopefully, I’ll try and change the colour."
Indeed, 4-1 were the magic numbers all evening for Ireland, as Aoife O’Rourke also won her first bout of the Games this afternoon on a 4-1 split decision against local boxer Viktoryia Kebikava in the women’s middleweight category.
A strong opening round from the Irish boxer saw her quieten the loud home crowd early on, controlling the pace of the opening exchanges, with some good combos and hard hits. The Belarusian came out hard in the second, but O'Rourke managed to turn well and fight back hard.
A closely-fought third round saw Kebikava again landing some big blows, but O’Rourke had done enough to secure a great opening win.
"I'm very happy to have the first one over with," she said afterwards. "It was a tough fight from the start, but I expected that. All of the girls at this weight are top class. I knew the crowd was going to be loud, I was prepared for it and was able to manage it. I’m looking forward to the next one now."
Jenny Egan had a busy day on the water in her first day of action at the 2019 European Games in Minsk, coming seventh with a season best in this morning’s K1 500 Canoe Sprint in a time of 1:54.733 to qualify for this evening’s semi-final.
Placed in a tough semi-final group, Jenny finished fifth in the evening race knocking seconds off her morning time with a 1.52.671 finish to qualify for tomorrow morning's KI 500 ‘B’ final.
"I just finished in a new season’s best time of 1.52," Egan said after the race. "That's the fastest time I've done since 2016 so I’m really happy, and I’m through to the B Final in the Women’s K1 500."
Ireland’s Athletics Team made history this week becoming the first of just 24 countries to compete in Dynamic New Athletics.
In tonight’s quarter finals the team of 15 competed against Portugal, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Hungary and Denmark for a place in tomorrow’s semi-final. In the end, it was Portugal and Hungary who progressed as the fastest finishers in ‘The Hunt’.
'The Hunt' team of Paul Byrne, Amy O'Donoghue, Brandon Arrey and Catherine McManus posted a time four seconds faster than Sunday (4:46.43) in 4:42.57 to give Ireland a final placing of fourth.
There were a number of impressive performances from Ireland in the Dinamo Arena. The highlight, the Mixed 4x400m Relay of Andrew Mellon, Sinead Denny, Kelly McGrory and Luke Lennon Ford setting a new National Record and taking Ireland’s one and only win of their campaign with a combined time of 3:24.14.
Andrew Mellon took the opening leg of the 4 x 400m, getting the team off to a strong start: "It was my first time ever going out of the blocks in a 4 x 400m, so I knew if I didn't get out it'd be over before it even started, I was happy to get the guys into position."
Next up was Sinead Denny who drove on putting Ireland into a good position: "I just knew that once I got the baton from Andrew I had to go out hard. I knew that they were quite close so I tried to run as far on the outside of lane one, and I held her (Portugal) off pretty well."
Kelly McGrory increased the lead, with Luke Lennon-Ford driving the home over the finish line in first place.
Stephen Gaffney had gotten Team Ireland underway with a second-place finish in the Men’s 100m. O’Donnell improved his time of 10.67 from the qualification round, crossing the line in 10.62. In the 110m Hurdles, Gerard O’Donnell recorded a time of 14.29 just behind Denmark’s Andreas Martinsen (13.89) in first.
Sarah Lavin, also with a second-place finish, improved her time in the 110m Hurdles to 13.32 (from 13.46) earning valuable points for Ireland going into 'The Hunt'.
"I had a good start, 13.32 into a headwind, it’s probably as quick as I ever ran into a headwind, and crucially I got ten points for Ireland. We were a bit apprehensive coming into this because we didn’t know what to expect, but the team atmosphere is so good because of it," she said.
Niamh Whelan completed the track line up with a sixth-place finish in the 100m in 11.87.
In the field events, Nelvin Appiah was the best placed Irish athlete, winning the fifth/sixth place final off in the High-Jump with a jump of 2.05. Sophie Meredith was 6 in the long jump with a best score of 5.61 while Grace Casey was sixth in the Javelin with her best throw coming in the group stage at 39.17.
Rachael Darragh concluded the evening sessions for Ireland with a game 2 loss in the Women’s Singles Group E. A tough game against Germany's Yvonne Li saw Darragh beaten 21-17, 21-9. The 21-year old will play her final group game tomorrow against Finland’s Airi Mikkela.
DAY SIX SCHEDULE (IRISH TIME):
*Note the schedule may be subject to change *
07:45 Badminton – Nhat Nguyen (IRL) Vs Luka Wrabber (AUT) Group Stage
08:20 Badminton – Josh Magee & Paul Reynolds (IRL) Vs Kristjan Kaljurand & Paul Kasner (EST)
11:40 Badminton – Rachael Darragh (IRL) Vs Airi Mikkela (FIN) Group Stage
12:00 Canoeing – Jenny Egan (IRL) Women’s K1 200 Heats
12:15 Canoeing - Ronan Foley (IRL) Men’s K1 200 Heats
14:00 Canoeing – Jenny Egan (IRL) Women’s K1 200 Semi Finals
14:10 Canoeing - Ronan Foley (IRL) Men’s K1 200 Semi Finals
17:00 Boxing – Kellie Harrington (IRL) Vs Irma Testa (ITA) Women’s Light -60kg
TBC Boxing – Michaela Walsh (IRL) Quarter Finals Women’s Feather -57kg
TBC Boxing – Grainne Walsh (IRL) Quarter Finals Women’s Welter -69kg
TBC Boxing – Kurt Walker (IRL) Quarter Finals Men’s Bantam -56kg
TBC Boxing – Aoife O’Rourke (IRL) Quarter Finals Women’s Middle -75kg