Francie Crowned Irish Champion

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Oakleaf Amateur Boxing Club member, Francie Stokes, caused a major sensation in the National Stadium last weekend when the local 13-year-old defeated the reigning Irish Champion, Chris O’Donohue, to claim the Boy 2 36 kgs. title.

O’Donohue was considered a red hot favourite to retain his title given that he is currently a member of the Irish Elite squad, however, the lad from the Golden Gloves club in Galway failed to cope with Stokes’ speed, movement and defensive skills.

In fact, the Oakleaf lad had to do it the hard way having to progress through three particularly tough contests before claiming his first national title.

Co. Antrim champion, Conor Quinn (Clonard ABC) was the Derry boxer’s first opponent, and after two rounds of superb technical boxing, the scores were tied at 2-2.

However, with only seconds remaining in the contest Stokes produced a classic boxing move, sinking a right hook into the Belfast boxer’s body and instantly whipping over a perfect left hook to the head to win 3-2 on points.

In his semi-final bout the talented Mark Cummings (Crumlin ABC) stood in the way young Stokes’ path into the 2011 final.

This again was another enthralling battle of two counter punchers, but it was the St. Columb’s College student who was always able to keep in front from the first until the final bell to record another excellent 4-3 victory.

Champion Reaches Final

The popular Derry lad’s opponent in the final was the undefeated and reining Irish champion, Chris O’Donohue, from the Golden Gloves Club in Galway who, in fact, had previously beaten Stokes 8-0 at last year’s semi-final stage.Thererefore, the Oakleaf ABC coaches, Kevin McGilloway and Ambrose Moore, must take great credit for the tactics the employed for the final.

And Francie followed those instructions to the letter, producing a master class of defensive boxing.

Holding a high guard coupled with excellent movement, the Derry lad clearly flustrated the Galway boxer.

Indeed, after a scoreless first round the diminutive Stokes produced two scoring shots to move into a 2-0 lead inthe second round, the St. Columb’s College lad keen to avenge last year’s defeat and, indeed, take the coveted 36 kgs. trophy back hom.

To the vociferous cheers of his supporters it was Stokes’ hand which was raised by the referee and the travelling support went wild.

Incidently, it was the Oakleaf Club’s founder and National Boxing Council Member, Eugene O’Kane, who presented the young pugilist with his winners’ medal.

Prior to Stokes’ success, Derry could have had three more champions had they got the rub of the green in their contests

Brett McGinty (Oakleaf) would have won his bout 9-6 but for a computer breakdown had the new system been deployed. Ryan Green lost out by a single point, which had the Oakleaf coaches fumming because Green’s excellent body punching failed to register a single score.

And Liam Glennon, from the St. Joseph’s Club was leading 2-0, but in the final 30 seconds his opponent somehow managed to register three scoring points which cost him dearly.

As if to rub salt in, all three of the Derry lads opponents went on to become Irish champions.

However, the day belonged to Francis Stokes, who produced the goods to finally show the poers that be in the National Stadium, that amateur boxing in Derry remains strong with so many other young lads waiting in the wings to stake their claims for national honours.