McCarthy digs deep to claim Elite belt
Kildare lightweight Brandon McCarthy claimed his 15th Irish title - and his first Elite belt - at the National Stadium last night.
The St Michael's Athy stylist showed his strength and ring craft against Belfast's two-time European medallist Barry McReynolds to win the 60kg title at his first Elite Championships.
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"Absolutely amazing, I can't get over it. What a night, what a way to win an Elite title. It still hasn't set in yet," said McCarthy.
Dublin's Seán Mari and Dundalk's Evelyn Igharo shaded the first two belts on offer on 3-2 splits decisions over Ricky Nesbitt and ex-World Junior champion Ciara Ginty
Wicklow's European Youth gold medallist Daina Moorehouse earned a unanimous decision over Shannon Sweeney to land her first gold medal at the first time of asking and Rathkeale BC pair Nell Fox and Jason Harty also had their hands raised in victory.
The 81kg belt changed hands with Emmett Brennan edging defending champion Thomas O'Toole on a 3-2 split.
"I won rounds two and three. It was a great fight, better than I thought it would be," said the hard-punching Dublin Docklands BC light-heavy Brennan.
Two-time Commonwealth finalist Michaela Walsh stopped Emma Agnew in the second round and Ceire Smith won her seventh Elite belt at the expense of Niamh Earley.
Meanwhile, the Irish team for the European Olympic qualifiers in London next March is anything but cast in stone following the completion of the final domestic national tournament of 2019.
Seventy-seven Olympic places - 50 for men and 27 for women - will be up for grabs in eight weights for men and five limits for women in London. There will be one final world qualifier in Paris next May.
World and European Elite champions Kellie Harrington and Kurt Walker, Rio Olympian Brendan Irvine and several Irish champions missed the Elites because of injury and illness.
Bernard Dunne, IABA high-performance director, pointed out last night that five of the seven boxers that withdrew had major operations. Dunne added that injuries are something they have to deal with and winning a national title is the best way to get yourself noticed. Ireland is likely to take part in a multi-nations tournament in eastern European in late January before the team for London is confirmed.
Elsewhere, unbeaten Kildare feather Eric Donovan, who was working Jude Gallagher's corner at the Elites last night, will be aiming to improve to 11 wins versus Jose Aguilar in Glasgow tonight.
Tyrone flyweight Gallagher beat Regan Buckley, a former pro boxer who has returned to the amateurs, to win the men's flyweight belt in a contender for fight of the year at the Stadium.
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