Boxing: Conlan targets another Dalton dismantling on Elite comeback
MICHAEL CONLAN will be aiming for a five-star performance against Ruairi Dalton on his return to Dublin's National Stadium tonight for his first competitive bout in Ireland since winning bronze at London 2012.
The AIBA world No 3 flyweight meets Dalton in an all-Belfast three-rounder in one of 17 semi-finals at the Elite National Championships. Both boxers have met four times in the past, and Conlan, who boxes out of St John Bosco BC, has won all four.
The defending champion expects another big 12 months for Irish boxing, with the Men's European and World Championships in Belarus and Kazakhstan looming.
But the 21-year-old Ulster orthodox has put all thoughts of Minsk and Almaty aside and is firmly focused on events in Dublin.
"Michael Conlan is coming to put on a show tomorrow night. I'll be there to perform," he said.
"It's another big year year for Irish boxing. After the Olympics we're expected to do a lot more, the medallists especially. It's good in a way as that wee bit of pressure on me makes me train harder."
Meanwhile, Conlan's London 2012 team-mate Adam Nolan faces Brian Brosnan this evening and is two wins away from securing a third successive 69kg belt.
Laoise Traynor faces Claire Louise Sweetman in the women's side of the draw. Traynor, a team-mate of Nolan's at the Bray BC, also boxes at welterweight, and, like Nolan, works as a garda.
The Bray BC duo will also have Katie Taylor's dad Pete and Darren Nolan (Adam's brother) calling the shots in their corners.
"Pete and the brother will be working the corners of two guards, back-to-back," joked Wexford-born Nolan. "I was happy enough with my win last weekend in my first fight back since the Olympics."
Current and ex-champions Ross Hickey, Thomas McCarthy, Eric Donovan and Declan Geraghty will also be between the ropes tonight.
Donovan meets Sean McComb in a battle of the southpaws. Donegal middleweight Jason Quigley, who eliminated London 2012 Olympian Darren O'Neill on a countback last weekend, faces McComb's Holy Trinity BC team-mate Conrad Cummings.
Reigning European light-welter champion Ray Moylette had two operations on his right hand last year and is keen to put an injury-ravaged 2012 behind him with victory over Sean Duffy.
"I had a good win last Saturday and I want to build on that in the semi-finals," said the 2008 AIBA World Youth champion.
Lynn McEnery, the defending women's light-fly, opens tonight's session with a four-rounder against Hannah Carthy. The remaining men's semi-finals and five women's finals will be decided tomorrow night.