BY CHRIS MCNULTY
MICHAEL Gallagher, the Finn Valley ABC’s hard-hitting heavyweight, will be in action at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games this weekend.
Gallagher is in Nanjing, China, with a sixteen-strong Team Ireland, including three boxers – Gallagher, Mayo’s Ciara Ginty and Cork’s Christina Desmond – and the boxing gets underway on Saturday, August 23.
The power-pawed Kinletter man, a ten-times Irish champion, goes in the 91kgs division after qualifying at the World Youth Championships. Although he lost out to Cuba’s Yordan Hernandez in the quarterfinals, Gallagher bounced back to defeat Dutchman Thomas Ooman in a box-off in Sofia to book his plane ticket to China.
Gallagher has called this ‘his dream’ and at the club presentation night in May Conor Quigley predicted ‘big things’ for the 18-year-old.
The Finn Valley man is due to take to the ring between 2 and 2:30pm Irish time on Saturday with the draw set to take place on Friday morning at 8am Irish time.
“The squad are training well and are well focussed, said Irish team manager Stephen Connolly.
“They squad are doing pad work and warm ups. The team are tapering off their training now ahead of Friday’s weigh-ins and boxing on Saturday. Everyone is very much looking forward to getting in the ring and getting the tournament underway.”
At the World Youths, Gallagher recorded wins over Canadian Evagelos Frangos and Britain’s Connall McDonald in his opening two bouts before being pipped by eventual gold medalist Hernandez.
Gallagher, who won a bronze medal at the 2010 European Schoolboy Championships in Bulgaria attended a training camp in Hing Kong before moving on to China.
Gallagher won his tenth Irish title in January when he defeated Gary Maughan to win the Irish Open Youth Championships and in February he took home a bronze medal from a major international tournament in Russia.
Gallagher lost out to Russian Maksim Kolesnikov in the semi-finals of the VII International Youth Tournament, the ‘Nikolay Pavlyukov Memorial’, in Anapa, having previously defeated Latvia’s Artyoms Kolesnikov and Russia’s Oleg Fomichev Gallagher.
In previous versions of the Youth Olympic Games, Jason Quigley won a silver in 2007 and a gold in 2008.
Now Gallagher is hoping to get onto the medals roster.
“All of the boxing community in Donegal would like to wish Michael all the best in China,” said Peter O’Donnell, the President of the Donegal Boxing Board.
“He’s another fine ambassador for the sport in our county. He’s a very talented boxer who is well capable of returning with a medal as his record has shown.”