Thursday 18 January 2018

O’Neill leads way for Ireland as trio 'go for gold'

Irish captain Darren O'Neill, Ireland (David Maher / SPORTSFILE)
Irish captain Darren O'Neill, Ireland (David Maher / SPORTSFILE)

Three Irish boxers will be aiming for a hat-trick of gold medals at the European Union Elite Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria today.

Irish captain Darren O’Neill, David Oliver Joyce and Michael O’Reilly won their semi-finals at the 23-nation tournament yesterday.

Kilkenny southpaw O’Neill, who claimed gold at the last European Union Championships in Denmark in 2009, beat Mamadou Diabira.

The French light-heavyweight took a standing count in the third after O’Neill detonated a massive left in a neutral corner en route to a unanimous decision.

Portlaoise BC middleweight O’Reilly scored a career-best win over 2010 European Elite champion Balazs Bacskai on a split decision.

O’Reilly and the Hungarian shared the first round, but O’Reilly found the target with four unanswered shots in the second and finished the bout in pursuit of the World No 12.

Joyce, who won gold at the 2008 and 2008 European Union Championships, will be aiming for a treble against Georgia’s Otar Eranosyan today.

The St Michael’s Athy BC orthodox wore down durable Lithuanian lightweight Edgaras Skudelis by sheer volume of punches and pressure yesterday.

Hughie Myers was adjudged to have lost to Slovakia’s Stefan Mezei in the light-fly, a decision which left the Irish corner shaking their heads. Myers connected with the majority of cleaners shots, but the judges opted for Mezei on a unanimous decision.

“We should have four in finals. Myers was hard done by and he should have got the decision,” said Irish head coach Billy Walsh. “The team have done incredibly well to get three into the finals. This is a hostile environment as everyone is fighting tooth and nail to get to the finals and win gold.”

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