THERE was disappointment for Clare’s four national boxing finalists in the Boy 4, Youths 1 and 2 (14-16) age categories of the Irish Championships at the National Stadium in Dublin on Friday and Saturday last.
Keelan Sexton from the Ennis club had come through the quarter and semi-finals in fine style and was fancied to go one better in his final with Sean Conroy from Ballyhaunis in Mayo. However, he never recaptured the form that permeated his defeat of Patrick Sweeney from Buncrana in Friday’s semi-final.
Sexton led all the way for a 13-9 victory against the Ulster champion and was sharp and incisive with his left-hook deliveries, marking him favourite for ultimate honours in Saturday’s final.
However, Conroy came spoiling out of his corner in the first round of their final and never allowed Sexton to settle into his usual boxing mode. His accuracy with the left jab gave the Mayo man a 5-2 lead at the bell.
The Ennis fighter made a good comeback in the second to take the round 3-1, with his combination punching back on track. He came up fighting in the third and brought the score level but from there on, Conroy held the centre of the ring and captured the title on a 12-6 scoreline.
There was abject disappointment for Sexton and his mentors but he will have a chance to overturn the result when the Cadets championships get underway next month. This will decide who goes forward to represent Ireland in the forthcoming European Championships.
Southpaw Mike McDonagh was impressive on the run-up to Saturday’s finals but failed to ignite in his 63kg boys final with Brett McGinty from the Oak Leaf club in Derry and lost out on a comprehensive 16-5 margin.
McGinty, the reigning champion, dictated terms from the opening bell, rarely allowing McDonagh to open up with his potent right hook. He was sharp with a withering array of left and right hooks and the result was ominous from the second minute.
Championship first-timers, Rory Brennan from the Ennis club and Alan Sweeney from the newly formed Doolin Boxing Club were similarly outboxed in their respective 46kg and 80kg finals. The Ennis boxer was stopped in the second round by Brendan Irvine from St Paul’s, Antrim, while Sweeney’s brave and spirited performance was not enough to unhinge namesake Patrick Sweeney from Mayo, who worked hard for his 12-5 victory.
Attention now turned to the juveniles with Conor Doyle and Bradley McDonagh from the Ennis club seen as potential champions when the championships got underway on Tuesday in the National Stadium.
Doyle will be seeking his third national title in-a-row and is through to the semi-finals on Friday night, while Bradley came through his preliminary contest on Tuesday on a scoreline of 8-5.
The Donovan brothers, Paddy and Edward, who box in Limerick out of the OLOL club are quietly fancied for a family double, according to club coach Shane Daly.