BY CHRIS MCNULTY
FINN Valley boxer Michael Gallagher will represent Ireland at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
The heayweight powerhouse overcame Thomas Ooman from the Netherlands in a box-off at the Armeec Arena in Sofia to book his ticket.
Having lost to Cuban Yordan Hernandez in Monday’s quarter-final at the World Youth Championships, Gallagher needed the box-off to secure his passage to China.
And he left the judges in no doubt with an emphatic win over Ooman, scoring 30-27 on all of the cards to sweep the boards.
“I just had to win to get my dream,” Gallagher told the Donegal News from Sofia.
“It was tight to lift it after the loss, but I did well against the Cuban and the hard work has paid off.”
Gallagher was in control from start to finish and never gave Ooman a sniff.
Gallagher – a ten-time Irish national champion – lost to Hernandez in the quarter-final after recording wins over Canadian Evagelos Frangos and Britain’s Connall McDonald in his opening two bouts.
Defeat to Hernandez ended his medal hopes, but the Kinletter lad bounced back to confirm his name on the list for Nanjing.
Liam Brereton, the manager of the Ireland team in Sofia, hailed Gallagher’s performance.
“I can’t praise him enough,” he said.
“To lift himself and to overturn the defeat to win against the Dutchman, that took something else.
“I was told a few weeks ago that Michael would come here and not let me down. By God, he certainly hasn’t let me down.
“This could crown him. It could change his whole approach, his whole tactics. Michael Gallagher is no longer a have-a-go hero.”
Gallagher and Christina Desmond will be Ireland’s representatives at the Youth Olympics, with both winning box-offs, but there was no such joy for Ciara Ginty, who lost out in her fight.
Gallagher’s club coach at Finn Valley ABC, Conor Quigley paid tribute to his heavyweight bomber.
“He’s a serious talent and he really can go on to achieve his dreams,” Quigley said, speaking from California.
And Peter O’Donnell, the President of the Donegal Boxing Board, added: “It is a fantastic honour for Michael. It’s a great achievement to reach the Youth Olympics.”
The 2014 Youth Olympic Games take place from 16-28 August in Nanjing, China.
SEE FRIDAY’S DONEGAL NEWS FOR FULL COVERAGE