Saturday 17 August 2019

Captain Harrington leads the pack as Team Ireland go for gold in Minsk

In the red corner: Bray’s Regan Buckley lands a punch on Artur Hovhannisyan of Armenia but lost out on a split decision in the Light Flyweight semi-final at the European Games in Minsk. Photo: Sportsfile
In the red corner: Bray’s Regan Buckley lands a punch on Artur Hovhannisyan of Armenia but lost out on a split decision in the Light Flyweight semi-final at the European Games in Minsk. Photo: Sportsfile

Bernard O'Neill

Ireland's Elite boxers are fighting like wolves at the European Games in Minsk, according to Irish captain and World Elite lightweight champion Kellie Harrington.

The Dubliner likened the Ireland squad to a medal-laden "wolf pack" yesterday after beating Agnes Alexiusson on a unanimous decision - the team Ireland alpha and No 1 lightweight seed will now meet Katie Taylor's conqueror Mira Potkonen on Sunday morning after posting a big win over the durable Swede.

Harrington suffered a hand injury on Irish Elite finals night in Dublin last February and yesterday's outing was just her second competitive fight since. But she was just as sharp as ever as she booked her place in the gold medal bout.

"The best thing about it is that we're a wolf pack. I'm not a lone wolf, we're a wolf pack. We're all here as a team and we're medalling. Irish boxing is truly alive," Harrington said.

"Agnes is fantastic. I knew she was going to be strong. I just had to stick to the game-plan the coaches gave me. I have every medal now except an Olympic one."

If Harrington beats Potkonen - who defeated the Dubliner in both 2018 and 2017 - on Sunday, the European Games lightweight title will remain in Ireland as Katie Taylor won the belt at the inaugural event in Baku in 2015.

Antrim's Michaela Walsh and Kurt Walker are also through to the weekend's finals after beating former and current European Elite champions.

Walsh has vowed to finish the job against Bulgaria's Stamira Petrova in today's 57kg gold medal match.

The current EU champion beat Russia's Daria Abramova on a split decision yesterday to set up a featherweight decider against the Rio 2016 Olympian.

"It was great to get the win. I boxed that girl last year, it was the same in the European semi-final, it was a close fight. I felt I performed very well," said Walsh.

"I definitely won the fight, 100 per cent. The job's not done yet. As Gráinne (Walsh) said the other day, 'This is what dreams are made of'," she added.

Walker, meanwhile, shaded a 3-2 split verdict over England's No 1 seed Peter McGrail to post his second successive victory over the Liverpool southpaw. And he will now meet Mykola Butsenko of Ukraine for 56kg gold tomorrow.

Offaly's Gráinne Walsh and Bray's Regan Buckley had to settle for bronze after losing to Armenian light fly Artur Hovannisyan and Polish welter Karolina Koszewska on 3-2 splits respectively.

Laois middleweight Michael Nevin was knocked out in the first round by Italy's Salvatore Cavallaro last night, but Irish boxing will be taking home at least three silver and three bronze from the Games.

Irish Independent

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