Sunday 19 November 2017

Antia laments prep time as Irish struggle

Zaur Antia. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Zaur Antia. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Bernard O'Neill

An early exit from the European U-22 Championships in Romania has left head coach Zaur Antia with plenty to ponder ahead of Ireland's biggest outings since Rio 2016.

The championships end in Braila today, with Ireland's young prospects having failed to get amongst the medals.

Three boxers - Jordan Moore, Dylan Duffy and Keith Flavin - reached the last eight, while the rest of the nine-strong team, including Elite champion Kurt Walker, did not get past the last 16.

Irish boxing is building toward June's European Championships in Ukraine which is the only qualifier for the World Elite Championships in Hamburg in August and September. The top eight in each weight at the Europeans will qualify for Hamburg.

Rio 2016 and London 2012 Olympians Brendan Irvine, Joe Ward and Darren O'Neill, and European medallists Dean Walsh and Sean McComb are in line for selection for Ukraine.

Courtesy of Walker, Moore, Keith Flavin, Dylan Duffy and Keylan Cassidy, Ireland won five bouts at the European U-22s.

But they lost nine - four on split decisions.

Antia reckons that those stats would have been different if he had the squad for six months rather than the six-week training camp they did.

"I think that the boxers did everything that they could, but lost the fights. It is good for the future. They see what they have to learn, how they have to train, everything," said Antia.

"They prepared well, but if I had them six months that would be much different. We lost many fights on split decisions. Here we face Olympians, boxers who compete in Rio Olympics Games. They (the Irish team) never had such experience."

Irish Independent

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