Thursday 14 November 2019

Darren O'Neill's Olympic dream over after losing to 'awkward' German

Darren O'Neill after his defeat.
Darren O'Neill after his defeat.

Vincent Hogan at the ExCel Arena

KILKENNY middleweight, Darren O'Neill's Olympic hopes were crushed today as he lost his last sixteen bout against German, Stefan Haertel.

O'Neill was deemed to have lost all three rounds to the awkward Haertel and could have no complaints with the decision. Haertel kept catching the Paulstown man with a persistent right and his tight defence made it virtually impossible for O'Neill to respond with clean punches of his own.

Haertel led 6-4 after the first and 14-8 after the second, at which point the Irish captain had to throw caution to the wind in a vain effort to rein his opponent in. The judges gave round three to Haertel on a 5-4 ecoreline, thereby confirming Ireland's first boxing defeat at these Games.

"I knew he was going to be awkward because I've sparred with him before" conceded O'Neill. "I thought I'd be able to out-box him and had the capability of beating him. I thought I would win. But I was a little bit slow implementing the tactics in the first round, he got a lead and it was an uphill battle after that."

Haertel's ability to land clear shots meant that he consistently caught O'Neill with scoring shots and head coach, Billy Walsh, admitted to being slightly surprised that the Kilkennyman trailed by a mere two points after round one.

"I'm utterly disappointed but, fair play to him, he performed very well" said O'Neill. "He deserved the win on the day."

Belfast's Michael Conlan and Wexford's Adam Nolan are next in the ring for Ireland, both boxing in tomorrow night's session at the ExCel Arena.

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