IT WAS a case of standing room only in Derry’s Tower Hotel on Friday night for this international match between a local Oakleaf ABC Select and a strong St. Catharine’s ABC team from Canada.
Indeed, those present witnessed one of the best nights of amateur boxing seen in the city for many a year and former County Board President, Mr. Tommy McCann, a boxing stalwart for over half a century, commented that it was one of the best tournaments to have been staged in the city.
The tournament opened with three three excellent support contests featuring current Irish and Ulster champions. At 36 kgs. Francie Stokes (Oakleaf) and George Hamilton (St. Joseph’s) got proceedings off to the perfect start and it was the Oakleaf boy who took control from the first bell. Stokes produced some moments of class to win 7-2. Credit to young Hamilton who, although a year younger than his Oakleaf opponent, never took a backward step throughout the contest.
Ryan Green’s (Oakleaf) performance against Padric Mackle (Toome) was both clever and controlled but the Oakleaf youngster was never in trouble and won 4-2 on points.
Brett McGinty (Oakleaf) almost produced a great win over the recently crowned Boy 4 Irish champion, Michael Devlin. McGinty who is two years younger than Devlin matched the St. Bridget’s boxer in every department and it was no surprise to see the scores tied on a double count-back at the final bell, with Devlin taking it 2-1 on the judges decision. On reflection the St Johnston boxer who finds it impossible to get matches at his own age group, can take great encouragement from this performance.
The International tournament opened with the Canadian’s taking a 2-0 lead. Evan Gillard and Lucas Caride recording points wins over Sean Higginson and local lad Jamie McCormack respectively. McCormack, a late replacement, produced a creditable performance losing narrowly 5-4 on pts.
Gerard McCorley (Toome) registered the home sides first win defeating Jake Stanley 5-4 on points.
Oakleaf southpaw middleweight, Pat Stokes, defeated Chris Strickland 4-1 on points. The Canadian, who never quite got to grips with Stoke’s awkward style, became frustrated as the contest went on, leaving the home boxer a deserved winner.
“Fight of the Night”
The contest involving Gearoid McGilloway (Oakleaf) and Canadian No. 2, Ben Beebe was, undoubtedly, the ‘fight of the night,’ which had the large crowd on their feet. McGilloway, who was making a return to the ring after almost four years, found himself 7-1 behind going into the last round. But back stormed the Brandywell man and he caught Beebe with a beautiful right to the jaw which staggered the Canadian who was relieved to hear the final bell. Beebe win on a narrow 8-7 scoreline.
Boxing at super-heavyweight, Sean McGlinchey served up a master class of amateur boxing to defeat the towering Gordan Frajic 12-5. If the talented St. Mary’s man moves down a weight or so, he will certainly be a force to be reckoned for years to come having produced a faultless performance.
St. Mary’s clubmate, Marc McLaughlin, also turned in annother excellent performance to outbox the highly rated Canadian Josh O’Reilly 5-1. The feature of this contest was the Derry southpaw’s clever counter-punching which was a delight to watch.
A bad last round cost Jamie Kennedy his contest against Josh Wagner, all credit to the Ontario man who took a 4-3 victory with the last punch of the contest.
Conor Coyle, St. Joseph’s middleweight, locked horns with Ryan Baulk who is the most active boxer in Canada. The St. Joe’s boxer had to be totally focused for this one and he followed his coach’s instructions throughout what was a very close contest. But it was the Derry boxer’s hand which was held aloft by referee, James McCarron, winning 5-2 on the judges score cards.
“Boxer of the Night”
Oakleaf featherweight, Darren Quigley, produced the “Boxer of the Night” performance against the Canadian ranked No. 3, Kyle Allen. Quigley who has only recently recovered from a long term hand injury, was back to his brilliant best and he had the home supporters roaring with appreciation. The decision was a formality, the Creggan man winning 6-2.
In the final contest of the tournament, three times Irish champion and European U18 quarter-finalist, Gavin Moore, make a welcome return to the ring against another highly rated Canadian, Kevin Higson. The ultra talented Moore, although not back to full fitness, won this one in a canter 7-1..
Oakleaf ABC wish to thank joint main sponsors A. McLean (Bookmaker) and Mr. Brendan Duffy (Rocking Chair Bar) plus and all the tournaments sponsors.
Thanks also to local doctors, Nicola and Joe McEvoy and to the St. John Ambulance for attending. A special thank you the Mayor of Derry, Colr. Colm Easwood for his attendance at the event.