SIX Donegal boxers are in the semi-finals of the National Open Youth Championships, which take place tomorrow in Dublin’s National Stadium.
Finn Valley ABC heavyweight powerhouse Michael Gallagher and Dungloe’s highly-rated welterweight Mark McCole blasted their ways to the semis without conceding an inch in their two contests last weekend – and they’ll be joined in their last four bouts at the National Stadium on Saturday night by Carndonagh’s Liam Callaghan, Illies Golden Gloves man Thomas Mongan, St Bridget’s Clonmany’s Michael Devlin and Convoy middleweight Mark McElhinney.
McCole will line up against Shane O’Neill (St David’s Naas) in the 64kgs semi-final. The Dungloe ace had a fantastic weekend, booking his place in the semis thanks to a second round T-Ko against Francis D Barrett (Champs Camp) on Sunday in the National Stadium. McCole defeated Jimmy Joyce from Athlone in his other contest and he heads the way to the semis with a fine head of steam.
McCole has been knocking on this door for some time – and now could be the time he gets it prised opened. In the other semi a 64kgs, Wayne Kelly of Ballinacargy meets Michael McDonagh from St Paul’s in Waterford.
Gallagher is the winner of nine previous Irish titles – and the Finn Valley bruiser took out all before him again this weekend. Last Friday night, Gallagher took out Cian O’Shaunnessy from Rathkeale 3-0 thanks to a dominant display. The following night, the Kiletter man inflicted another three-nil defeat on an opponent, this time John Stokes of St Canice’s.
James Hughes from Ryston stands in Gallagher’s way of a place in the final, with Gary Maughan and James Mullaney to meet in the other semi.
Convoy’s Mark McElhinney remains in the pot at middlweight after an excellent weekend for the returning puncher, who has returned to the canvas after a long absence because of a back injury.
The cobwebs were dusted off with a 3-0 win over Finn Valley’s Francis Mongan in a Donegal derby – and McElhinney now faces Watergrasshill’s Luke Thomas in Saturday’s semi-final.
Inishowen duo Callaghan and Monaghan are also through to the semis. Callaghan will meet Regan Buckley from Bray at 49kgs and Mongan takes on St Michael’s Athy’s superstar Willie Donogue in what will be a real acid test for the young Donegal man. In a star-studded 52kgs deck, Frankie Cleary and Francis J Barrett complete the line-up.
Michael Devlin (St Bridget’s, Clonmany) advanced on a 3-0 scoreline against James O’Brien of Finn Valley and now meets Aidan Walsh (Holy Family GG) in the semis.
DONEGAL cruiserweight Garda Paul Hugh Tierney, the World Police and Fire Games champion, has made it through to the semi-finals of the National Novices Championships.
A member of the St John Bosco club in Donegal town, Tierney is stationed in Kildare and boxes out of Kilcullen BC.
On Sunday morning, Tierney turned in a vintage display of accurate and quick-fire punching when he outpointed Galway’s Brian Ward (Trojans BC). Tonight (Friday) he comes up against Ballinacarrow’s Joe Hirst in a much-awaited semi-final at 85kgs.
THERE are two major tournaments to be held in Donegal over the coming weeks. First up is a show at the Osmamn Centre, Dunfanaghy on January 18th and that is followed by a tournament at the Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran, on January 25th. Boxing on both nights starts at 8.30pm.
SQUAD training for all female boxers will take place in the Raphoe gym on Sunday morning at 11am with all females from Donegal, Derry and Tyrone asked to attend.
Best wishes go to Stacey Sloan from Eglinton Boxing Club, County Derry, who has made it through to the National Novice semi-finals in Dublin. A regular attender at the female squad training in Raphoe, she is in semi-final action tonight, Friday.