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Juvenile boxers enjoy successful tournament

THE traditional end-of-season Juvenile Boxing Championships, which took place through Easter Week in the National Stadium in Dublin, always provide rich pickings for the boxers from the Clare capital. Indeed, more than 40 of the club’s fighters have garnered titles over the years at these championships.
However, times have changed and now the ladies have taken centre stage. The medals tally for the season shows two gold for the young ladies from Kilfenora, one for Ennis, while KO specialist Keelan Sexton from the West Clare Club annexed the only boys’ title for the county.
It might seem a reasonable tally for Clare boxers and indeed coaches Tommy Lyons and Seán Carrig from the Ennis Club were pleased with the performances of 63kg contender Lee Brady, who lost out in his semi-final to Wexford’s Tom Stevens from the New Ross Club after a fantastic battle and debutant Mike McDonagh who battled bravely to beat Ryan Lindberg from the St Agnes Club in Belfast in the semi-final, only to lose out to namesake Jamie McDonagh (Clann Naofa Newry) in the final.
Both fighters have the potential to go one better, perhaps in the coming year, but nobody could deny the awesome nature of West Clare’s Keelan Sexton in the 63kg Boy 2 class as he stopped all three of his opponents for the title.
Sexton saw off the challenge of Ulster champion Pearse Tohill (Gleann) in the quarter-final after he dropped Tohill with a left hook to the body early in the second round and applied the finishing touches with a right uppercut seconds later. Baldoyle’s Tom Joyce was his semi-final opponent and although a little more resilient, Joyce was taken out in the third round with a series of body shots on Thursday evening. Sexton had punched his way to his second final in two years but at a cost. He emerged from the ring with a crippling lower back injury and his father Kevin had to make the long journey with him to Clare that night for treatment.
Young Sexton, whose grandfather Martin Burke was a boxing champion in his halcyon days, is made of solid stuff and he climbed into the ring on Saturday against Eamonn Cawley (Convoy) full of dynamism to demolish the Northerner for his second consecutive title.
Kilfenora’s Caoileann McCormack took the 46kg Girl 3 title with victory over Megan McDowell (Eastside BC) in the semi-final and she had to battle to a standstill to overcome a resilient Nora Doyle (Clonmel) in a thrilling final. Caoileann was behind 3-1 after the first round and was finding it hard to find the target with her favourite right hand through the second, finding herself 6-8 in arrears. With admirable grit and stamina however, the Kilfenora boxer found the range with her left jab and punished Doyle with big rights for a grandstand finish and a thrilling victory, which drew sustained applause from an appreciative crowd.
Her father, Pat, who is Caoileann’s coach and mentor, was delighted with her victory and was magnanimous in his praise of Nora Doyle’s courage and quality boxing in what was arguably the best contest of the evening.
The week-long staging of the championships was an absorbing experience for coaches and officials and full credit is due to all concerned for the smooth-running and efficiency with which the championships were staged.
Ennis Coaches Tommy Lyons and Seán Carrig acted as judges and Lyons, who recently qualified as a referee, was kept busy through the five days boxing, officiating in over 40 contests. There will be two tournaments in the coming weeks against Dublin and Limerick clubs before the close season through June, July and August.

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