Thursday 19 July 2018

Irish middleweight Michael O'Reilly falls to shock defeat in Olympic qualifiers

Michael OReilly
Michael OReilly

Sean McGoldrick

Ireland has suffered a major setback at the Olympic qualifying in Samsun, Turkey with the shock elimination of middleweight Michael O’Reilly.

The Portlaoise boxer was the number one seed in the 75kg weight class but he dropped a unanimous 3-0 decision to an unknown Finnish boxer Ilari Kijala.

O’Reilly won the gold medal at the inaugural European Games in Baku last year and later claimed a bronze medal at the World championships in Doha.

Indeed, he was desperately unlucky not to secure an Olympic place in Qatar as he clearly beat a veteran Egyptian fighter in a box off but didn’t get the verdict.

O’Reilly was still ranked as the world number 2 middleweight and the number one European going into the Samsun tournament but he failed to justify his rankings in today’s fight.

He will have one final chance to secure an Olympic place at a tournament in Baku in June.

But there are unhappy parallels between O’Reilly’s case and that of Joe Ward who sensationally missed out on qualifying for the London Olympics.

Ward suffered  a surprise defeat at the World championship followed by a highly controversial loss at the subsequent qualifying tournament in Turkey.

Even though Ward ultimately took his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport he didn’t make the London Games.

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