Saturday 16 December 2017

Ireland warm up for Olympic qualifiers

Paddy Barnes at the National Stadium yesterday (SPORTSFILE)
Paddy Barnes at the National Stadium yesterday (SPORTSFILE)

Lithuania and Ireland wound down their training camp at the National Stadium in Dublin yesterday with a test match ahead of next month’s Olympic qualifiers in Turkey.

Olympic champion Katie Taylor and Rio 2016 Olympians Paddy Barnes and Steven Donnelly were in action. No scores were kept in the match, as agreed. Taylor, who will be aiming to book her ticket for Rio in Samsun before defending her title at May’s World Women’s Championships in Kazakhstan, met current Irish Elite male bantam champion Kurt Walker in an up-tempo clash yesterday.

Donnelly was in against Evaldas Stanionis, the current European champion, and David Oliver Joyce met Edgaras Skurdelis.

At this point, as Irish interim head coach Zaur Antia explained, it’s all about completing preparations for the qualifiers. The squad have a final training camp in Assisi, Italy next week before Samsun.

With Barnes, Donnelly, Michael Conlan and Joe Ward qualified for Rio, Ireland will be aiming for nine Olympic berths in Samsun. Taylor, Michaela Walsh, Christina Desmond, Dean Gardiner, Darren O’Neill, Michael O’Reilly, Dean Walsh, David Oliver Joyce and Brendan Irvine are in line to be selected.

All nine will take part in the Assisi training camp along with Barnes, Conlan and Ward.

Meanwhile, Walsh and Desmond will line out for Ireland in Saturday’s Elite women’s clash with France at the National Stadium.

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