BY CHRIS MCNULTY
BERNIE Stokes created a piece of history on Friday night as the super-heavyweight became the first Bluestack BC boxer to win a national title.
The big southpaw overcame Robert Kraska to take the 91+kgs title back to the Ballybofey club, which is only in its second season in existence.
A superb first round from Stokes set the tone with a couple of cracking straight rights rocking Portlaoise boxer Kraska.
Stokes was well in control and it was one-way traffic in the opening stanza. Stokes blasted out in round 2 and had the contest effectively in the bag by the time they answered the bell for the third round.
Stokes was on the backfoot for those final three minutes and lost his gumshield at one point, but he’d done enough and took a 30-27, 29-28, 27-30 verdict from the judges.
“It was a great performance and it’s fantastic for the club to get the first national title,” said Bluestack club coach Eamon McAuley.
Bernie didn’t lose a round the whole way through up to the last round in the final. We knew he was in against a heavy hitting boy in Kraska and the boy was nine or ten kgs heavier than Bernie. We knew he’d be up against it, but he’d had a great Championships and we were confident.
“He went out and boxed superbly. What surprised us was that Bernie actually took the fight to him.”
The Bluestack club came into being in 2013 and earlier this year was unlucky to miss out on national glory when Thomas Doherty was beaten by Oisin Brennan from St Anne’s, Westport in the Boy 2 80kgs final. Doherty became the first boxer from the club to compete in a national final but, after emptying the tank, he found himself on the wrong end of a particularly harsh 3-0 defeat.
However, Stokes made no mistake on Friday night in the National Stadium and it was his hand that was hoisted by referee John Mongan.
McAuley, who was accompanied in the red corner by Aidy Deery, said: “It’s history for the club now and hopefully it’s the first of many.
“It is a proud night for all of us in the club. Steven O’Reilly has been a great help to us coming in from college to spar with the boys and Benny Harkin has been in with us and that has been a fantastic help also. He was away for a while from boxing, but we might even see Benny get a fight – he has fantastic experience and that’s been brilliant for us.”
With the National Intermediate crown in the bag, McAuley says that Stokes may enter the senior championships, but it will depend on how a shoulder ligament injury heals.
McAuley said: “Bernie is a great fella and I just hope he can recover in time now for the seniors. They’re sort of coming in on top of us, but he might just have enough time to get ready.”
His brother, Patrick, has been struggling with an early problem, but is also hoping to go for the senior championships after the turn of the year.
THERE was considerable frustration in the air for the Twin Towns BC contingent on Friday night as Paul Kelly was beaten in the middleweight final by Ryan Dervan of Loughrea.
Kelly had looked to have done enough, but when the sums were totted it was Dervan who had his hand raised by referee, Lockie Gannon.
Kelly was the busier boxer for the most part. The on-form Donegal Creameries employee was well in the mix and while Dervan did peer through to crash a right-hander onto the Ballybofey man it was a rarity in the contest of the fight.
Dervan took the bout 29-28, 28-29, 30-26 and it was the scale of the third round scoring that stunned and indeed angered the Twin Towns club.
Kelly’s performance hadn’t been such that he was outscored to such an extent and the general consensus was that he’d done enough in the first two rounds.
There was also disappointment for Letterkenny ABC’s Stephen ‘Pigeon’ Doherty in the 81kgs final as he lost out against Gurteen County Sligo’s Patrick Ward, also on a split decision. Doherty won the final round 29-28, but Ward had the edge, 29-27, 30-27 in the opening two to take the win.
Meanwhile, Illies Golden Gloves’ Daryl Moran was given a walkover win at 48kgs adding to the women’s 50kgs title won by Donna Barr of Twin Towns the previous weekend.