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Historic Night at National Stadium
By Michael O’Neill
Credit: SportsNewsIreland.com
March 24, 2012

(MAR 24)  A historic first ever women’s boxing international in Ireland last night was inevitably dominated by Katie Taylor whose 25-5 win over Dutch champion Jessica Belder was watched by a few hundred spectators in the Stadium and countless others at home and abroad via the IABA’s welcome ‘Live streaming’ coverage of all eight bouts.

As another step on the Road to London (hopefully) via the World’s in Qinhuangdao, China this was a good start to a busy week which will also see her fight in Cavan (against the same opponent tomorrow), in Cork on 30th against 2011 Golden Gloves champion, Liz Leddy from Portland, Maine (USA) and in Dungarvan on 31st March when she meets N'yteeyah Sherman, the highly promising, 6ft tall, 19 yrs old from Barberton, Ohio who came within a single point of defeating Queen Underwood at the recent U.S Olympic Trials.

But let us not forget that this was also a night in which several of the Irish team made their debuts at Senior international level so special mention to Sarah Close of the Holy Family GG who defeated Willeke Verdellen (13-6) and Callan’s Clare Grace an impressive 21-19 winner over Lisa de Vilder.

An encouraging performance too from another making her senior debut, 16 years old, Christine Gargan of the St George’s Club, who albeit she was defeated by the Dutch title holder Alicia Holsken 7-10 will have benefited from the experience.

Defeat too for Drimnagh’s Sinead Kavanagh, who went under 17-9 against Nouchka Fontijn but let us remember that Nouchka is the European Gold medallist from Rotterdam and one of the favourites for an Olympic medal in London. The two will resume their rivalry when the two countries meet again at the Cavan Crystal Hotel tomorrow.

An excellent win for Michelle Lynch of the Golden Gloves club in Belmullet, Co Mayo, against the Australian Olympic trials winner Bianca Elmir 14-14 but 42/41 on count back to the Irish woman. Ireland’s other winner on this ‘special night’ was Dervla Duffy from the Ryston club, a very deserving 21-12 victory over Kristen Fraser, the 22 yrs old economics student at Aberdeen University.

For Taylor though this brought back memories of her first ever bout at the famous old Stadium back on 31 October 2001 when the then 15 years old from Bray met and defeated 16 years old Alanna Audley (now ABAE champion Alanna Murphy). This was the first ever licensed women’s bout in Ireland and who could have foreseen on that Halloween the great success story that is Katie Taylor. Happy memories of that night? :

“Yeah, I made history here when I fought Alanna back then,” Taylor told the ‘Irish Times’.

“She’s one of my best friends now, would you believe? She’s still boxing. She’s over in England. The two of us, we made history that day.”

History that day? – yes, and who knows perhaps further even more historic triumphs await. Only time will tell.

Ireland v Holland March 23rd National Stadium Dublin (courtesy IABA.ie)

52Kg: Alicia Holsken (Holland) beat Christine Gargan (St Georges) 10-7
54Kg: Bianca Elmir (Australia) lost to Michelle Lynch (Golden Gloves) 14-14 c/b 42-41
57Kg: Rachel Foefnagels (Holland) v Michaela Walsh (Holy Family GG) (exhibition bout)
57Kg: Kristen Fraser (Scotland) lost to Dervla Duffy (Ryston) 12-21
60Kg: Jessica Belder (Holland) lost to Katie Taylor (Bray) 5-25
64Kg: Willeke Verdellen (Holland) lost to Sarah Close (Holy Family GG) 6-13
69Kg: Lisa de Vilder (Holland) lost to Clare Grace (Callan) 19-21
75Kg: Nouchka Fontijn (Holland) beat Sinead Kavanagh (Drimnagh) 17-9

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