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2017 IABA Irish Elite Finals - Review
by Michael O'Neill
February 18, 2017

(FEB 18) There was a fine evening’s boxing as the 2017 IABA Elite championships drew to a close at the National Stadium, before a ‘bigger than last year’ attendance.

Fans throughout Ireland though were less than pleased to discover that not only was there no Live TV coverage but also no Live Streaming from the Stadium and that despite the fact that they were recording the bouts for later transmission on IABA TV’s “You Tube” channel. The exact date of this transmission is as yet unknown though according to CEO Fergal Carruth it will be “in the coming days”.

Kelly Harrington and coaches  Photo credit:  Facebook

As the staff and equipment were already in place on Friday why not beam the Finals Live and have a captive audience rather than at a future date when a lesser number will be watching? Facebook and fans forums were full of complaints from fans from all over the country who could not be in Dublin for the Finals. A Golden opportunity missed by an organisation which endured a very difficult 2016 especially after the events in Rio both in and out of the ring. Let us hope for better things in 2017.

In the ring, the All-Ireland champions of 2017 emerged after 16 final bouts at the home of Irish boxing.

Dervla Duffy who now boxes out of the Mulhuddart B.A defeated reigning champion, Moira McElligott on a 4:1 judges decision after an enthralling bout whilst current World no 2 (at 64kg) Kellie Harrington overcame a gutsy challenge from Clonmel’s Shauna O’Keeffe who was runner up last year to Katie Taylor in the 60kg lightweight final. This year the Glasnevin woman moved down to 60kg and said later:

“I am so happy to be the new 60kg Champion of Ireland. Credit to my opponent she came to fight and my God she did. Was such a great night with a massive crowd. I worked hard for this and it paid off. Thanks to all the coaches who helped along the way who have pushed me to the max and all my sparring partners who battered me week in week out .

I'm so blessed. Great night for Glasnevin and St. Marys Tallaght”

London 2012 Olympian Darren O’Neill and World Elite finalist Harrington improved to seven titles apiece, and Rio Olympians Brendan Irvine and Joe Ward accepted their third and fifth belts.

Pat Ryan / Dean Walsh  Photo credit:  IABA.ie

European Elite bronze medallist Dean Walsh was celebrating on the double after claiming gold at the first time of asking at welterweight and also scooping the Best Boxer Award. The trophy was presented by IABA President Pat Ryan.

Ciara Ginty  Photo credit:  IABA.ie

Ex AIBA World Junior champion and current Youth Olympics silver medallist Ciara Ginty ensured that the Geesala BC were celebrating a great win and Patrick Mongan sealed another proud night for the Olympic Boxing Club, so a Connacht double.

On Saturday, Ginty and her legion of fans in Mayo celebrated with a special homecoming ceremony that the Geesala club has adopted over the years. The Club’s Social Media Manager explained the ritual:

“We thank all the fans who came out in huge numbers to welcome home our Elite boxing championship Ciara Ginty. Ciara carried her medal across the Corrick Bridge in front of a long possession of cars full of proud supporters. She has done the Erris region proud again and follows in the footsteps of Henry Coyle & Katie Rowland (Geesala BC) and Michelle Lynch (Golden Gloves Belmullet) all of whom claimed elite titles for our region over the years. The club’s success is only possible because of the work of our dedicated members and the massive support of all our supporters and sponsors. We could not keep going without it and all who have helped in any way we thank you sincerely and you all own a share in our clubs success story”.

The Rathkeale BC in Limerick had to wait until the very last bout of the 2017 Championships to finally lay claim to an Elite crown, Martin Keenan doing the honours following an edge-of-the-seat super-heavy showdown with Thomas Carty.  In a great fight to end this special night, the Limerick man proved a worthy winner and will now be looking and hoping for a place in forthcoming Irish teams preparing for major International titles.

Grainne Walsh - Photo: Facebook

Offaly’s Grainne Walsh took her first Irish Elite title when the referee stopped her fight against Bray’s Gillian Duffy. The Spartacus Tullamore fighter said Saturday morning:

"Well what can I say.. I won the Seniors last night for the first time after being in them twice before. Stopped my opponent on a TKO in Round 3! Gaining more and more experience after every fight and loving my boxing at the moment! Great start to the year. Was an amazing night at the National Stadium. I am so grateful to the people who travelled up to the fights and were supporting me. And all the support on Facebook means a lot. Elite Champion 2017"

It was certainly an exciting Finals night but let’s not forget that especially as far as the women are concerned, the IABA needs to provide much more support to boxers and their clubs in and out of the ring. Only 26 original entries for the female bouts does not bode well for the future. The Association has for far too long ignored women’s boxing despite the great successes over many years of six times World champion and London 2012 Gold medallist Katie Taylor (now a Pro).

There is a need for a complete review of the women’s scene in Ireland. True there are several top stars on the scene such as Kellie Harrington and ‘up and coming’ ones like Ciara Ginty, Shauna O’Keeffe and Christina Desmond but how can they be expected to progress in European and World events if they rarely if ever represent their country except in major championships and an odd occasional club tournament abroad?

Despite their protestations women’s boxing at all Grades has been virtually ignored by the IABA and it is to be hoped that both Sport Ireland and the ‘new’ Olympic Council of Ireland (which includes boxing champion Darren O’Neill on its Executive Committee) will soon raise serious questions with the IABA as to how they intend to support – and adequately fund - the women’s sport in the future.

Without that considerable additional funding for all Grades of Youth & Junior as well as Elites the sport will not develop in Ireland to the extent that it should already be reaching following Taylor’s ‘Golden’ career.

National Elite Championships National Stadium Dublin:

February 17th -Finals

Best Boxer Award: Dean Walsh

48kg Kristina O’Hara (St John Bosco A) beat Shannon Sweeney (St Anne’s) 5-0

51kg Carly McNaul (Ormeau Road) W/O

56kg Kurt Walker (Canal) beat Stephen McKenna (Old School) 5-0

69kg Grainne Walsh (Spartacus) beat Gillian Duffy (Bray) TKO3

57kg Dervla Duffy (Mulhuddart) beat Moira McElligott (St Michaels Athy) 4-1

54kg Terry Mullarney (Ballyhaunis) W/O

81kg Leona Houlihan (Crumlin) beat Caroline Connolly (Mourne GG) TKO2

49kg Blaine Dobbins (St Joseph's Derry) beat Darryl Moran (Illies GG) 3-2

81kg Joe Ward (Moate) beat Anthony Browne (St Michaels Dub) 4-1

60kg Kelly Harrington (Glasnevin) beat Shauna O’Keeffe (Clonmel) 4-1

60kg Patrick Mongan (Olympic) beat George Bates (St Marys Dublin) 3-2

64kg Ciara Ginty (Geesala) beat Emma Agnew (Dealgan) 5-0

64kg Sean McComb (Holy Trinity) beat Wayne Kelly (Ballynacargy) 5-0

52kg Brendan Irvine (St Pauls) beat Thomas McCarthy (Mayfield) 5-0

69kg Dean Walsh (St Ibars)beat Brett McGinty (Oakleaf) 5-0

75kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgans) W/O

75kg Emmett Brennan (Glasnevin) beat Stephen Broadhurst (Dealgan) 4-1`

91kg Darren O’Neill (Paulstown) beat Ken Okungbowa (Athlone) 5-0

91+kg Martin Keenan (Rathkeale) beat Thomas Carty (Glasnevin) 4-1

81+kg Maeve McCarron (Carrigart) W/O

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