Northern Ireland’s boxers have won a record five gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Though their tally of seven medals, five gold, one silver and one bronze falls shorts of the record tally of nine won by their boxers at the 2014 Games in Glasgow previously, they never won more than two boxing gold medals at a single games.
Two-time Commonwealth Games silver medallist Michaela Walsh became the fifth member of the team and the second in her family to secure gold with a dominant performance against Elizabeth Oshoba from Nigeria in the featherweight final in the National Exhibition Centre. All five judges scored the final in favour of Walsh (30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Earlier World lightweight champion Amy Broadhurst overwhelmed England’s Gemma Richardson in the gold medal fight. The underdog was forced to take two standing counts as the Dundalk fighter took the Commonwealth title on a unanimous 5-0 verdict. All five judges scored the contest 30-25 in favour of Broadhurst.
Olympic bronze medallist Aidan Walsh – which is Michaela’s younger brother - won his first Commonwealth title having picked up a silver medal four years ago in the Gold Coast, Australia. As expected, the West Belfast boxer had too much class for Tiago Muxanga from Mozambique in the light middleweight final.
Muxanga was forced to take a standing count in round one was Walsh eased to a unanimous 5-0 win on scorecards of 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28.
Nineteen-year-old Bangor bantamweight Dylan Eagleson, who won a silver medal at the European championship earlier in the summer, was crowned Commonwealth champion after a magnificent comeback win against Abraham Mensah from Ghana.
Mensah, who is also 19, had a great first round and got the nod from all but one of the judges. But Eagleson dominated the rest of the fight winning the two remaining rounds on all five judges’ cards to take the gold medal on a unanimous 5-0 decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Meanwhile, for the second day in a row 20-year-old Jude Gallagher from Newtownstewart in County Tyrone didn’t have to break into a sweat as he won his first elite title at international level.
Having received a walk-over in Saturday’s semi-final he didn’t get a chance to box in the final either as his would be opponent Ghana’s Joseph Commey failed a medical test this morning.
Light flyweight Carly McNaul had to be content with a silver medal. A beaten finalists four years ago she was outclassed in her Birmingham final by Zareen Nikhat from India.
The team’s other boxing medallist was light middleweight Éireann Nugent won takes home a bronze medal after returning to the ring this year following an 11-year break from the sport.
At the 2018 Games Northern Ireland also had six finalists but all ended up with silver medals.
The team still brought home a record haul of eight medals – six silver and two bronze – from Australia. This time they will bring home seven medals but five of them are gold coloured.
At only three previous Commonwealth Games, Edmonton (1978), Victoria (1994) and Glasgow (2014) has Northern Ireland’s boxers won more than one gold medal in boxing.
In 1978 future World champion Barry McGuigan and Jimmy Hamill won gold; in 1994 Neil Sinclair and Jimmy Webb won gold while Olympic medallists Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan both won gold at the 2014 Games in Glasgow when the squad took home a record nine medals, two gold, two silver and five bronze.
Meanwhile, away from the boxing arena in Birmingham Ciara Mageean secured a silver medal in the women’s 1500m final at the Games in a seasonal best time of 4:04.14 finished behind Scotland’s gold medallist Laura Muir.