AFTER the thrills and spills of the Ulster Elite Amateur Boxing Championships, it was the turn of the younger and less well-known pugilists to take centre stage and show just what they are made of last Monday night.
Whilst the elite senior boxers may display highly-polished technique, fashioned over many years in the square ring, the younger debutantes throw caution to the wind and are carried on the crest of an unstoppable wave of exuberance and adrenaline.
And that was very much the case in the Holy Family Primary School, the home of Springtown ABC on Monday when the County Derry Amateur Boxing Championships were staged.
But it wasn’t a happy hunting ground for the Ballymagroarty club as they recorded two defeats, with D. J. Clarke losing to Michael Devine from Eglinton at Youth 1, 62 kgs. and James Browne defeated by Conor McLeod of Ring ABC at Under-18 64 kgs. That proved to be a very absorbing contest with neither boxer taking a backward step and, in the end, it was down to which boxer wanted it more.
The Boy 1, 39 kgs section is a hotly contested category with a quarter-final and two semi-finals boxed on the night and the title will go to either Coleraine or Eglinton. Dylan Browne of Churchlands Golden Gloves ABC in Coleraine just nudged the result over Kyle Weir (Errigal ABC) in a very closely fought contest
Eoin McLaughlin showed his class against Shaun Og Deighan of St John’s, Swatragh whilst Chris Linton emerged victorious over debutant, James McCloskey, of St. Canice’s ABC, Dungiven.
Meanwhile, in the Boy 3, 44 kgs. semi-final, Dylan O’Kane (St Canice’s) overcame the challenge of Tiernan McVey (Springhill) and now meets Errigal’s Kevin Quinn in the final.
In the Youth 1, 54 kgs. final, Eglinton’s Cormac Dillon wrested the title from St. Joseph’s Davin Delaney.
This contest was deserving of a bigger stage, with the action at an electrifying pace which had the huge crowd on their feet, appreciating the high octane exchanges and sheer grit of two young warriors.
On this showing, their futures in the ring are assured.
Another St. Joseph’s star, Simon Clarke, worked off a short left hand to defeat a very capable Saul Kearney from Churchlands Golden Gloves(Coleraine) in the Youth 1, 62 kgs. final.
In the Intermediate class, there were three high-powered clashes. At 71 kgs., Eglinton’s Joe Campbell proved too elusive for the ever-advancing Andrew Sweeney (St. Mary’s) while Chris McPeake (St. John’s) boxed very cleverly against Anthony McIvor (Churchlands) to lift the 60 kgs title.
The curtain was brought down with the Super Heavyweights, a pairing which brought together the towering Paddy Rodgers (St. John’s) and the rugged Simon McElwee (Churchlands).
The Coleraine man had it all to do, competing with 6’ 9” Rodgers who peppered his opponent with a rapier-like jabs to tremendous effect.
But McElwee stuck to the game-plan of working underneath this punishing jab to land his own hammer handed shots, which invariably had his man in trouble. In the end the pace took its toll on the smaller man and Rodgers was very relieved to have his hand raised by referee, James McCarron.
Monday night provided explosive action with a high level of skill and all associated with amateur boxing in Derry, city and county, are satisfied that the future of local boxing is safe and secure.
Co. Derry Board President, Tommy McCann, extended thanks to all at Holy Family Primary School and Ring ABC for hosting the Championships, with a special thanks to officials James McCarron and Bernard Logue who had travelled from Carrigart.
Secretary of the Derry Board, Min McCann, extended his thanks to the coaches at Springtown ABC, Gerard McFarland, Grainne Harkin and Daran McCann, John Leonard and all from Ballymagroarty Youth Club, and all the stewards for all their assistance in ensuring everything went smoothly.