A record equalling six Northern Ireland boxers will bid for gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham’s National Exhibition centre tomorrow.
In tonight’s second semi-final, two-time Commonwealth silver medallist Michaela Walsh fashioned a unanimous 5-0 win (30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 30-26) over Phiwokuhle Mnquni from South Africa to reach their third final on the spin.
Narrowly beaten by England’s Nicola Adams six years ago and more controversially by Australia Skye Nicolson in the Gold Coast in 2018, the Tokyo Olympian takes on Nigerian Elizabeth Oshoba in the tomorrow’s featherweight decider.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Jude Gallagher from Newtownstewart in County Tyrone didn’t have to break into sweat to reach his first major elite final. His Canadian opponent, Keoma-Ali Al-Ahmadieh, conceded a walk-over. Gallagher will take on Ghana’s Joseph Commey who won his featherweight semi-final on a majority 4-1 decision.
Earlier World champion Amy Broadhurst breezed into the lightweight final when she overwhelmed Cynthia Ogunsemilore from Nigeria.
The Dundalk fighter oozed class as she eased to a unanimous 5-0 win on scorecards of 30-24, 30-24, 30-26, 30-26, 30-27. She will meet England’s Gemma Richardson in tomorrow’s final.
Olympic bronze medallist Aidan Walsh is through to his second Commonwealth final after a majority 4-1 semi-final win over Welsh light middleweight Garan Croft, a silver medallist at this year’s European Championships which the Belfast fighter missed due to injury.
Walsh has now beaten the reigning European gold and silver medallists as he accounted for the European champion Harris Akbar in the quarter-final. Walsh was always in control against Croft, leading 3-2 after round one. He switched to a southpaw stance in round 2 and got the nod from four of the judges.
This left him in an unassailable position as he led by two points on three of the judges’ cards. He comfortably handled the last round to secure a final place on scorecards of 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 27-30 though the decision of the Canadian judge to award all three rounds to his opponent was puzzling to put it mildly.
European silver medallist Dylan Eagleson advanced to the gold medal fight in the bantamweight category but was made fight all the way by Scotland’s Matthew McHale. The 19-year-old fighter was up on three of the judges’ cards after round one.
But after six minutes of action, the semi-final was delicately poised: two judges had Eagleson ahead; one judge favoured McHale and the contest was level on the two remaining officials’ cards. Ultimately, Eagleson prevailed on a split 3-2 decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 28-29, 28-29).
He will meet Abraham Mensah from Ghana in tomorrow’s final.
Light flyweight Carly McNaul is through to her second Commonwealth final. A silver medallist four years ago in the Gold Coast, Australia, she will be aiming to upgrade to gold tomorrow when she meets Zareen Nikhat from India.
In today’s semi-final she had a comfortable 5-0 win (30-24, 3-24, 30-25, 30-25, 30-25) win over Teddy Nakinuli (Uganda).
There was no joy, however, for light middleweight Éireann Nugent who lost to Wales’ Rosie Eccles in her semi-final (30-25, 30-25, 30, 30-25, 30-26, 30-26). However, she takes home a bronze medal having returned to the ring this year after an 11-year absence.
In the evening session the team’s remaining semi-finalists, Michaela Walsh (featherweight) and Jude Gallagher (featherweight) will be aiming to join their four colleagues in tomorrow’s finals.