Sunday 17 December 2017

O'Reilly looks at final to put shock verdict firmly in past

Portlaoise’s Michael O’Reilly left, trades punches with John Joyce
Portlaoise’s Michael O’Reilly left, trades punches with John Joyce

Bernard O'Neill

Michael O'Reilly still looks back in disgust at the decision that cost him a place at the Olympics - but the World Elite bronze medallist has put that shocking verdict behind him.

The Portlaoise BC middleweight beat John Joyce in Saturday's Irish Elite semi-finals at Dublin's National Stadium on a unanimous decision.

The European Games gold medallist will now meet Newry's Conor Wallace, who also won Saturday, next Friday targeting a third successive Irish belt ahead of the Olympic qualifiers in Istanbul in April.

Defending lightweight champion Sean McComb, Brendan Irvine, Myles Casey, JP Delaney, Martin Stokes and Thomas Carty also won Saturday.

Irvine, ranked No. 7 in the world, beat ex-World Junior champion Willie Donoghue and McComb edged George Bates on a split to set up a 60kg showdown with three-time EU champion David Oliver Joyce.


Meantime, O'Reilly reached the World Elite 75kg semi-final in Doha, Qatar in October, but was controversially beaten by Egypt's Hossam Abdin in a box-off between the beaten semi-finalists for a place at the Olympics.

A frame-by-frame breakdown of that fight by a performance analyst confirmed that the Irishman clearly won in the Persian Gulf. "I was absolutely disgusted when it happened, I still am. I don't like looking back on it. It's not very nice to watch, but I've moved on from it," admitted 22-year-old O'Reilly.

"My focus now is on the final and there's Olympic qualifiers coming up next April. I got the result and I'm on my way to my third final.

"I wasn't taking him (John Joyce) for granted. I knew he was a good up-and-coming lad. He won a European bronze medal a few weeks back and I knew he'd be no pushover.

"I'd be confident going into the final. It's what I've been preparing for. I have to do what I do best. I'm focusing on that. Then I'll focus on the qualifiers."

Meanwhile, ex-European Elite champion Ray Moylette sees Wexford's Dean Walsh as an obstacle standing in his way.

Moylette edged Wayne Kelly on a split decision in Saturday's 64kg semi-final to set up Friday's decider with Walsh, a nephew of former Irish head coach Billy Walsh, in a repeat of January's Elite final which Walsh won on a split.

"I got the job done and I'm through to another final. I think this is my fourth, I won the first one. The last time (with Walsh) it was very close, it could have gone either way," said Mayo native Moylette.

"It's the same opposition, same final, but this time it will be a different result. Dean Walsh is an obstacle in the way that will have to be taken care of.

"I carry that burden with me (of losing to Walsh) the last couple of months. Those are the regrets, but there won't be any regrets this time."

Bernard O'Reilly also won to join his brother and Portlaoise BC team-mate Michael in the finals in the last outing of 2015 for Ireland's Elites.

Meanwhile, former Irish head coach Billy Walsh helped steer America to gold in his first competitive outing as USA head coach at an Olympic Test event in Rio yesterday.

Texas flyweight Virginia Fuchs beat England's World Elite finalist Lisa Whiteside on a unanimous decision to claim gold, 24 hours after beating India's five-time World Elite champion Mary Kom in the last four.

Fuchs, with Walsh working her corner, could meet Ireland's Michaela Walsh in the World Women's Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Kazakhstan next May.

The Houston puncher has already beaten current World Elite champion Marlen Esparza in the American trials this year.

American lightweight Mikaela Mayer lost to France's Estelle Mosselly, who Katie Taylor has beaten in the past, in the last-four in Rio. Mayer will be Walsh's lightweight in Kazakhstan next May and may face Taylor.

Ireland's ex chief seconds was using two boxers in Rio, as Olympic champion Claressa Shields withdrew with a hand injury. "I'm happy enough with the performances," said Walsh who will take the US squad to Sheffield, England this week for a training camp until December 20.

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