Sunday 22 September 2019

'We're a wolf pack' - captain Kellie Harrington hails Irish boxing team's spirit after glorious day at European Games

Kurt Walker joins Harrington and Michaela Walsh in securing at least silver in Minsk

Ireland's Kellie Harrington celebrates following victory in her Women's Lightweight semi-final bout against Agnes Alexiusson of Sweden at the Minsk Arena Velodrome on Day Eight of the 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Ireland's Kellie Harrington celebrates following victory in her Women's Lightweight semi-final bout against Agnes Alexiusson of Sweden at the Minsk Arena Velodrome on Day Eight of the 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Ireland's Kurt Walker, left, in action against Peter McGrail of Great Britain during their Men's Bantamweight semi-final bout at the Minsk Arena Velodrome on Day Eight of the European Games in Minsk, Belarus. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Ireland's Kellie Harrington in action against Sweden's Agnes Alexiusson during their Women's Lightweight semi-final bout at Minsk Arena Velodrome on Day Eight of the 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Seán McGoldrick

Team captain Kellie Harrington has saluted her team-mates after another stellar day in the ring at the European Games in Minsk.

Harrington, Michaela Walsh and Kurt Walker will all contest Sunday's finals in their respective divisions having won their semi-finals.

Lisburn native Walker is assured of at least a silver medal at the championships having tackled old foe Peter McGrail after a fascinating contest won on a split 3-2 decision.

This was the third significant clash between the pair. They met in the last November's EU final which Walker on a split decision. But McGrail prevailed on a split decision in the Commonwealth final in Australia earlier last year.

Ireland's Kurt Walker, right, celebrates following victory in his men's Bantamweight semi-final bout against Peter McGrail of Great Britain at the 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Ireland's Kurt Walker, right, celebrates following victory in his men's Bantamweight semi-final bout against Peter McGrail of Great Britain at the 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

In a terrific fight in Minsk, Walker was rewarded for landing the bigger punches.

World champion Kellie Harrington won her semi-final bout after she outclassed Sweden's Agnes Alexiusson over three rounds to secure a unanimous points win and secure a place in Sunday's lightweight final.

The Irish captain will meet 38-year-old Finnish veteran Mira Potkonen in the final. 

At the Rio Olympics the Finnish fighter secured a shock win over Katie Taylor in the quarter-finals of the 60kg class. Potkonen beat a Russian fighter in today's second semi-final.

Dubliner Harrington threw the cleaner shots and used her jab effectively to keep the Swede on the outside.

Even though four of the judges gave Alexiusson one round, they awarded Harrington the other four while the fifth judge gave the Irish fighter all five rounds to leave her a comfortable winner on a 30-27, 29-28 by four scorecard.

At worst Harrington is now guaranteed a silver medal.arrington said afterwards: "I came here last year and got a bronze medal. I said, 'coming here, hopefully I get more than a bronze,' and now I'm in the final.

"The best thing about it is that we're a wolf-pack. We're all here as a team, we're all medaling, it's fantastic. Irish boxing is well and truly alive.

Ireland's Michaela Walsh celebrates winning her Women's Featherweight Semi Final against Russia's Daria Abramova, during day eight of the European Games 2019 in Minsk. Photo credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Ireland's Michaela Walsh celebrates winning her Women's Featherweight Semi Final against Russia's Daria Abramova, during day eight of the European Games 2019 in Minsk. Photo credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

"I haven't had a fight since February, so to come back here now and be in the European final... this is what dreams are made of.

"I have every medal now except for an Olympic one."

Regan Buckley, however, will bring home a bronze medal after losing his Light Flyweight semi-final to Armenian Artur Hovhannisyan this evening.

Michael Nevin will also return with a pronze medal after being stopped in the first round of his men's Middleweight semi-final by Italian Salvatore Cavallaro.

Earlier today, Belfast featherweight Michaela Walsh went through to the featherweight final after defeating her Russian opponent Daria Abramova on a split 3-2 decision in Minsk. At worst she is now guaranteed a silver medal.

But there was disappointment for Offaly welterweight Grainne Walsh who went down to a controversial 3-2 loss in her semi-final. She brings home a bronze medal.

In the quarter final Walsh shocked reigning world champion Omella Wahner from German and she will meet Bulgarian Stanimira Petrova in Saturday’s night.

“I feel amazing; it’s great to get that win. Going in I had a perfect game plan and I tried my best to stick with it but obviously when you are fighting such good opposition it can go either way,

“I feel I performed really well but the job’s not done. I’m refocusing now for the final.

“I definitely knew I won the fight. You are going to get split decisions like this. Thank God, I came out on the right side of it. This is what dreams are made of.

Meanwhile, Walsh's namesake Grainne lost to Poland’s Karolina Koszewska.

On the professional scene Michael Conlan’s much anticipated rematch against Russian Vladimir Nikitin has been postponed. The pair who clashed in the infamous quarter final at the Rio Olympics were due to meet  in a ten-round pro featherweight fight  in Belfast on August 3.

But Nikitin has been forced to pull out of the fight after suffering a torn bicep in training. The search is now on for a replacement opponent.

Online Editors

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