IT WAS a case of action from start to finish at Oakleaf A.B.C.’s first promotion of the New Year which was staged on Friday night at the Glassworks in Gt James, Street, a new venue for the sport in Derry.
And the powers that be at the Brandywell club cannot be accused of looking for easy opponents for their boxers as coach, Kevin McGilloway, explained afterwards: “It’s no use feeding our boxers with easy opponents, if you do so, they most certainly will win contests but they will not learn or progress in the sport.”
This was typified in the top of the bill contest between Oakleaf’s Brett McGinty, a European Schoolboys bronze medallist, and Olympic A.B.C. (Galway) James Cleary, a European silver medallist in 2011 and what a quality contest it proved to be.
From the outset, Cleary’s tactics were to hit and move always seeking to hit on the counter and he did so throughout the three rounds. McGinty keep coming forward forcing Cleary back into the ropes on numerous occasions, ripping in combinations to the head and body of the Galway boxer.
After two fairly even rounds the contest stepped up a gear in the third, the Oakleaf youngster was caught with a left hook but he countered with a perfect body shot which stopped Cleary in his tracks. However, after three absorbing rounds of boxing, Cleary shaded it on a 3-2 points win. On reflection young McGinty can take great heart in losing narrowly to an older more experienced opponent.
Ryan Green put in a great performance to outpoint the very game Bim Cleary. Fresh from his recent Ulster Nine Counties win in “The Venue,” the St Joseph’s student reverted back to his old style of boxing which last season saw him claim two national titles and record International victories over Russian, German and Scottish opponents.
Green dominated the contest digging in his trademark body shots before switching to the head, the final bell sounded just as the referee was about step in, the Oakleaf boxer winning comfortably 5-0.
The visiting Galway club could not complain about home town decisions having been on the right end of three very close decisions, with the local team’s Marty Green, Gerard Storey and Francie Stokes all suffering similar fates.
Green lost out to Pat Ward and the St. Columb’s College studen,t conceding weight to the durable Ward, took the fight to Galway man and must have thought he’d done enough to sneak this one, but it was Ward’s hand raised by referee, Gerry Wilson.
Gerard Storey, who was making a welcome return to the ring after a 14 month absence, also lost to Galway’s Pat Delaney on a wafer thin 3-2 majority decision. Storey has to be commended for his effort in this one, the 16-year-old has only been back in the gym three weeks, and understandably his timing was off but, all things considered, it was great to see the talented lightweight back in the sport.
And Mariead Dobbins certainly has boxing her veins, father Micheal and her uncles all boxed for the late Paddy Kelly’s Rock Amateur Boxing Club. An Irish finalist last season, the rising Oakleaf star remains unbeaten this season after forcing her opponent, Bronagh McGarvey, to retire in round three. Southpaw Dobbins after this performance will now have national honours in her sights after this impressive display.
Debutantes, Dermot Kelly, defeated Dunree’s Jason Doherty on points in one of the ‘fights of the night,’ both boys stood toe-to-toe for the three rounds and roared on by his huge support, the Oakleaf boxer just edged in front to take a close but well deserved victory.
Both boys will meet again in three weeks’ time on the Dunree club’s tournament, again this one should be a cracker.
Oakleaf’’s Francie Stokes must be wondering what he did wrong when losing to fellow Irish champion, Frankie Cleary. The Derry lad did everything right on the night, showing great movement and defence against the Galway puligist. Stokes scored with left hooks and straight rights haven taken most of Cleary’s shots on his gloves and arms throughout three rounds of quality boxing.
But to the amazement of the packed attendance, it was Cleary’s hand which was raised by the referee. Fair play to young Stokes who took the defeat well, the level headed St. Columb’s College student suggesting that this contest was part of his preparation for up and coming championships.
Oakleaf Boy 1 debutantes, Kain Divin and Michael Stokes, both put in great shifts, losing out narrowly to Galway’s Jamie & Paddy Delaney. Oakleaf coaches will be more than pleased with their performances.
The biggest cheers of the evening were reserved for the appearance Oakleaf’s “Kid Gloves” boxers who boxed underage exhibitions, Ethan McSwine, Kian Kyle, Martin Stokes, Eoghan Tierney and Mark Doherty brought the house down and all showed grit and determination and talent on the night.
Upwards on 30 youngsters take part in twice weekly sessions geared for boxers aged from 7 to 10 years of age and the coaches and volunteers at the Oakleaf club, Eugene O’Kane jun,, Christy Doherty, John Tierney, Terence Sean and Feargal McSwine and Liam Dobbins, all must take the credit for this successful programme.
Oakleaf Amateur Boxing Club would like to thank all who helped make this tournament such a great success, especially to all the tournament sponsors, particularly GMK Engineering and the Rocking Chair Bar.
Thanks also to Master of Ceremonies, Peter O’Donnell, D. J. Sid and to the St. John Ambulance who are always very supportive of Amateur Boxing in the city.
Thanks to Galway’s Olympic Amateur Boxing Club Galway for making the long trip to Derry and to all those who supported the promotion.