CONOR COYLE’S dream of winning an Irish Elite Championship title ended amid controversy on Saturday night as Roy Sheahan secured a countback victory in their 75 kgs. semi-final in the National Stadium.
SIMON COLLINS reports
The St Joseph’s ABC middleweight’s coach, Cahir Duffy, was outraged at the contentious decision, particularly given the fact Coyle had former Elite champion, Sheahan on the canvas in the opening round.
All three rounds were shared on the judges scorecards yet it was St. Michael’s ABC, Athy/Defence Forces clubman, Sheahan who had his hand raised in victory on accepted scores when the final bell tolled.
It’s the second successive year the Galliagh man has suffered heartbreak in the championships having sustained a broken hand following his victory in last year’s semi-final win but his coach, claims Saturday’s loss was particularly hard to take.
“We felt that Conor won every round and so did the vast majority of people in the stadium,” he claimed.
“After the first round we were shocked that it was level. It was close but Conor had put him down and hurt him. Sheahan got up and the referee gave him a standing count.
“They came into the corner after the first round and at that stage we didn’t mind being level as long as we weren’t trailing.
“We went out in the second round and Sheahan started to come forward and it suited us a bit better. But once Conor connected and caught him with his combinations he went on the backfoot again.
“At that stage Conor was too strong for him,” he added. “They came in at the end of that round level again so it was all to go for in the final round.”
Conor’s coach felt his superior power and aggression in the final round would get him the decision and when the referee raised the Co. Kildare boxer’s hand in victory, the over-riding feeling was one of disgust for Coyle’s deflated cornermen.
“Conor went on the frontfoot in the final round and Sheahan literally didn’t throw a punch for the full three minutes, so how they scored it level is beyond me.
“He performed well again and just didn’t get the result he deserved so we’re disgusted to be honest.
“We were confident that Conor could win the fight and that proved the case in our eyes and anyone else that watched the fight apart from the judges.
“We knew if the scoring was close there was always going to be a chance that Sheahan would get the decision and that’s completely out of our hands at that stage. We can’t control the scoring. We were sick to the stomach when they gave him the nod.”
Coyle is determined not to let this defeat derail what has been an outstanding year and has taken confidence from the knowledge that he can compete with the best boxers in Ireland.
“There’s no point letting it fester, we have to take the positives from his performances. Conor proved he’s up there with the best boxers in this country, he’s performed against those ranked in the top 10 in Europe.
“That’s something he can take out of these Championships, he knows he’s capable but we just have to soldier on.
“It’s hard to motivate someone after something like this but the first thing he said to me after the fight was that he was going to get back in the gym on Monday and come back stronger and that’s his attitude.
“He will have a big year next year and will be number one selection for the Commonwealth Games and that will all come into place now that he’s Ulster Senior champion.”
McLaughlin in Final Meanwhile, Illies ABC’s Willie McLaughlin will face defending welterweight champion Adam Nolan this Friday following his hard-fought over Beijing 2008 Olympian John Joe Joyce.
“Fair dues to Johnny it was a hell of a fight.,” said McLaughlin. It’s a pity it wasn’t the final.”