BY CHRIS MCNULTY
Ringside at the National Boxing Stadium
JASON Quigley finally got to savour the sweet, sweet taste of glory in the National Senior Elite Championships last night as the Finn Valley ABC puncher defeated Roy Sheahan 15-6 to win his first senior title.
At just 21 years of age, Quigley got to the top of the tree at the fourth attempt and after defeat in two finals. There was no doubt that this was a sweet triumph for the classy Ballybofey man, whose style last night shone in a composed, competent performance to outgun Sheahan.
Quigley has beaten the likes of Chris Blaney and Conrad Cummings to get to this stage, so the path here has not been without its cobbles. That is not to mention his quarter-final triumph over the 2012 Olympic Boxing team’s captain, Darren O’Neill, who defeated him in the finals in 2010 and 2011.
Now, though, it is Quigley’s name that shines from the top of the middleweight roster.
“I was only a kid in the last two finals, but the development in the last couple of years has stood to me in being able to hold a senior man off me,” beamed Quigley.
A twice European champion – at Youth and Under 23 level – Quigley entered last night’s fight with the gaze of a man on a mission.
In a sometimes cagey opening round, Quigley held sway, 4-2, striking just at the right moments. He led 9-4 after the second round and it was in the final three minutes where he really came into his own.
With Sheahan – a twice former champion at welterweight – now having to chase the fight, Quigley’s round was almost perfect as he chipped away at the St Michael’s Athy boxer.
As Sheahan’s guard opened, so too did the left-right doubles of Quigley, whose corner naturally reacted with sheer, raw euphoria as the red corner was confirmed as the victor. His dad and coach Conor was joined in the corner by uncle Billy.
For the Quigley’s, it’s the end of one long journey, but this now opens doorways to other avenues never before explored by their team.
Proud dad, Conor said: “There has been a lot of hard work and dedication over a lot of hard years to get here. Finally it has paid off for the young fella – and no-one deserves this more than he does.”
A huge crowd from the Finn Valley cheered on the champ, who won before a capacity audience of 2,000 at the National Stadium.
There was no luck, however, for the other Donegal fighter in finals action. Willie McLaughlin, of the Illies Golden Gloves, was beaten 23-12 by the Olympian Adam Nolan from Bray.
McLaughlin was the victim of some harsh scoring. While Nolan was the deserving winner, McLaughlin put up a much better fight than the 23-12 verdict suggests. Particularly in the final round, McLaughlin went to town, but it wasn’t enough as the damage had already been done.
“The plan was to keep the score down in the first round, which didn’t happen,” said McLaughlin.
“I felt that I mightn’t have been as far behind as I was, but I was four behind. I got caught with a lot of stupid shots in the second round.
“I thought it was a lot closer than the score had – a lot, lot closer. I couldn’t believe the second round, it was mental scoring.”
On a memorable night at the National Stadium, Kenneth Egan announced his retirement from a glittering amateur boxing career that has taken in 13 senior finals and 10 titles as well as a silver medal from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Ireland’s golden girl, Katie Taylor, also made her first appearance in the ring since winning gold at the Olympic Games in London. Almost seven months after her defeat of Sofya Ochigava at the ExCel Arena, Taylor overcame the Polish boxer Karolina Grazcyk 28-5, though there was a strangely subdued atmosphere in the venue for the fight involving the darling of Irish boxing.
JASON Quigley hopes to fight again later this year, as he continues his recovery from a broken hand.