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Boxing clever in juvenile championships

THE Clare County Juvenile Championships were held in Lisdoonvarna last weekend, in conjunction with the Doolin Boxing Club tournament, before a capacity crowd in the Pavilion Theatre.

Fynn Randall took the 48kg title in style, beating Ennis Boxing Club favourite Joseph O’Brien, while Sadhbh Blood took the 63kg title to advance to the Munster Girls Championships in April. Kilfenora’s Stephen Murphy upset the odds with a pristine performance against Doolin’s Eoin Kelly in the final of the 35kg boys class.

There were outstanding displays from James Manning and Colin Fitzpatrick from the Ennis Club, against Kilfenora’s Dean Downes and Josh Moloney. Heavyweights Woytech Koper and Bernie McDonagh from St Anne’s in Westport brought the crowd to their feet in the final contest of the night, as they battled each other to a standstill, before the Westport protégé took a split decision in an absorbing fight.

Ennis boxer Jamie Connors confirmed the pre-fight favourites tag in the 60kg final, with a classic victory over Doolin’s Keith Barry but he was put to the pin of his collar to keep the Inagh native at bay. Barry has been out of action for more than a year and his resilience certainly augurs well for his future in boxing.

Ennis brothers Michael and Martin Sweeney both won handsomely against Martin Tierney and Oisín Kelly respectively, to further enhance their prospects for Munster and Irish titles in April.

All boxing aficionados will be turning their attention to the National Elite Championships in the National Stadium in Dublin on Saturday night. To add spice for the Clare fans, two Clare boxers will compete for the blue riband of Irish boxing. Welterweight Paddy Donovan and super-heavy Martin Keenan have qualified for their respective finals, which can be seen live on TG4.

Donovan, who boxes out of the OLBC in Limerick, will meet reigning champion Kieran Molloy from the Oughterard club in Galway in an all-southpaw final, while Keenan, who boxes out of the Rathkeale club in Limerick, will meet another reigning champion and world championship contender Dean Gardiner from Clonmel.

Donovan has 12 national titles to his credit and might well bring off a surprise against the wily Galwegian, who was voted boxer of the night in last year’s championships.

Gardiner is a formidable opponent and with vast experience from European and world championships, is expected to add another title to his vast array of honours. Keenan fancies his chances and his coach Robbie Williams says that the Ennis man is in the form of his life. He stopped Greg Linskyas in the semi-finals last weekend and packs a big right hand, which might well trouble Gardiner.