SEVEN Irish boxers have been selected by the Irish Athletic Boxing Association to compete at the World Championships in Belgrade later this month.
The announcement comes after a tumultuous two weeks within the corridors of power of the organisation. Initially boxers were informed that Ireland would not be sending a team to the championships.
This decision provoked such a backlash in the organisation that the High-Performance Unit – whose relationship with the IABA’s governing body the Central Council has always been frayed – was forced to do a U-turn.
Instead 15 boxers were taken to Sheffield for a week-long training camp which ended on Friday night and the team was announced yesterday afternoon.
But the controversy is unlikely to go away due to the omission of four Elite champions as well as Ireland’s newly crowned European U-22 gold medallist Dean Clancy from the team.
Two of Ireland’s best prospects for the Paris Olympics in 2024 – Kieran Molloy and Gabriel Doosen – are both left out. It is understood that neither travelled to Sheffield having been taken aback when originally told that no Irish team would be travelling to the World championships.
London Olympian Darren O’Neill, who became the new cruiserweight Irish champion, was overlooked as was 18-year-old new heavyweight title holder Jack Marley. Clancy missed the Elite championships due to illness. He trained in Sheffield, but Elite champion Brandan McCarthy got the nod in the light welterweight division.
Sean Mari also missed the Elite championship as he was competing at the World Military Games where he won a bronze medal and he gets the nod in the flyweight division.
According to a statement from the IABA, the High-Performance team “under the expert eye of Head Coach Zaur Antia were very happy with how the team performed up against top class opposition (in Sheffield)”.
This controversy has some distance to run yet and it remains to be seen how Sport Ireland, who provide the funding for the High-Performance programme, will view their volte face.
The team named is: Ricky Nesbitt (Holy Family) 48kg; Sean Mari (Monkstown) 51kg, Adam Hession (Monieva) 57kg; JP Hale (Star) 60kg; Brandan McCarthy (St Michael’s Athy) 63kg; Eugene McKeever (Holy Family) 67kg, Kelyn Cassidy (St Saviours Crystal) 80kg.