Walsh praises team's grit in search for gold
IRISH head coach Billy Walsh has hailed the response of the Ireland Elite side to a 'backs to the wall' team talk at the European Championships in Minsk, Belarus.
The squad had to bounce back from defeats for Sean McComb, and Ray Moylette and Joe Ward, gold medal winners at the 2011 Europeans in Turkey, with Paddy Barnes, John Joe Nevin, Michael Conlan and Jason Quigley, blasting their way through to today's semi-finals.
All four are guaranteed at least a bronze medal.
"We sat down as a team and Joe (Ward) was there with us. The guys were giving out about the scoring. I had to put everything to bed, get the team together," said Walsh.
"I told them: 'There's four of you guys still left. Let's get in tomorrow, give it your best shot and throw everything at it and see where we go.'
"We've regrouped, got our heads together. When you consider one of our best medal prospects went home injured and we still have four guys who have gone on to win medals. We're still in the hunt.
"We'll be looking to improve on the colour of those medals now. The guys aren't settling for bronze out here. They want to be fighting for gold on Saturday and they want to go all the way."
Nevin will be in the ring against Russia's Vladimir Nikitin looking to hand himself the perfect birthday present as he turns 24 today.
Barnes, the 2010 European champion, meets Azeri light-fly Salman Alizada, the 2011 European champion. Conlan faces Russian 2012 national champion Ovik Ogannisian, while Quigley is in against Ukrainian Ievgen Khytrov, the current AIBA World middleweight champion.