JOE WARD blasted his way into the 2012 National Elite 81kg final with a commanding win over Davey Joe Joyce at Dublin's National Stadium last night.
A 17-4 decision took the reigning European and Irish champion to within one win of successfully defending his light-heavyweight title.
Ward (18) claimed the first round 5-1 and took a 12-2 lead into the third, Joyce receiving public warnings for dropping his head in the second and third.
The Moate BC southpaw will now meet either Ken Egan -- who he beat in the 2011 final -- or Eamon Walsh, who meets Egan tonight, in next Friday's final.
"I'm looking forward to my next fight. Whoever wins (tonight's) fight, I hope it is a good final," Ward said.
Meanwhile, 2012 Olympians Michael Conlan, John Joe Nevin and Darren O'Neill -- all defending champions -- also claimed semi-finals wins last night. Belfast flyweight Conlan convincingly beat Shane Roche 28-12, but Cavan BC bantamweight Nevin had to come from behind to edge out Sean McComb 13-12.
Kilkenny middleweight O'Neill had another tricky encounter with Belfast's Conrad Cummings, who he shaded 4-3 in the 2011 semi-final.
Last night's duel was almost as tight, O'Neill coming from behind to claim the decision, with Cummings, who got a public warning for a low blow in the first, going down under a right hook in the second.
Defending champions Ross Hickey, Mike McDonagh, Adam Nolan, Hugh Myres, Tommy McCarthy and Con Sheehan also progressed.
Sheehan, who is aiming for his fifth title in a row at two different weights, beat Moate BC super-heavy Ken Okungbowa on a night when all 10 winners were boxing out of the red corner. The Championships continue tonight at 7.0 with the remaining semi-finals.