Oakleaf youngsters bound for Russia!

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OAKLEAF Amateur Boxing Club continues to experience significant success with two members of the Brandywell club having booked their places on the Irish team which will contest the European Schoolboy Championships in Russia in October.

Competing in the National Stadium in Dublin last Friday night, 14-years-old Francie Stokes’ opponent in the 40 kgs. final was the highly rated Calvin Turner (Ryston ABC, Co. Kildare) but the St. Columb’s College student refused to be intimidated.

Indeed, the Derry teenager edged the first round by three points to two and in the second Stokes quickly found his range and scored with some excellent ‘switch hitting,’ to extend his lead to11-5.

In the final round the Oakleaf boxer continued to frustrate his Co. Kildare southpaw opponent with excellent shot variation and at the final bell the result was never in doubt, Stokes running out a comfortable 16-7 winner.

Young Stokes, an Olympic Torch Bearer, drew many plaudits following his outstanding performance, including comments from Irish Olympic boxing captain, Darren O’Neill, who congratulated the young Derry boxer on his outstanding display.

Hip injury left Brett’s

involvement in doubt

Meanwhile, Brett McGinty’s participation in the 59 kgs. final remained in doubt right up to the start of his contest with Castlebar A.B.C. member, Colm Quinn.

The St. Jonston based 13-year-old pugilist had struggled to overcome a hip injury and was unable to train for the two weeks prior to last weekend’s contest.

However, given that the talented Oakleaf boxer had comfortably defeated Quinn in their previous two meetings, McGinty took his place in the ring and this contest was a much closer affair due to the Oakleaf boxer’s restricted movement.

After two rounds, McGinty held a slender one point advantage and in the final round the Brandywell clubman exhibited great determination and heart to eventually take a wafer thin 5-4 decision.

In fact, it would have been a major injustice if this year’s ‘double’ Irish schoolboy champion had missed out in taking his place in the European Schoolboy Championships due to injury, but young McGinty will now join his clubmate on the plane bound for Russia next month.

In Poland three years ago, Oakleaf member, Aaron Rogan, was considered very unlucky not to win a medal at the European Schoolboy Championships, losing ouit to the eventual gold medallist from Ukraine in the quarter-finals.

Stokes and McGinty will now join the Irish High Performance Team for six weeks of squad training and, no doubt, both youngsters will have their sights firmly set on bringing back medals from these prestigious Championships where the cream of Europe’s finest young boxers will be competing.

International Challenge

Meanwhile, while Stokes and McGinty will focus their attentions on their exciting trip to Russia, other members of the Oakleaf Club will gain international recognition when representing a “Young Ireland” Selection which will face Scotland in an International Challenge in Derry’s Everglades Hotel on Sunday, September 16th next.

The Oakleaf Club will host this event as part of the Brandywell club’s 20th anniversary celebrations, the event organised by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association.

A host of current Irish champions will be in action on the night and the host club will also be represented with Ryan Green and Tom Stokes joining St. Joseph’s A.B.C. member, Liam Glennon, on the “Young Ireland” team.

It’s also hoped that at least two of Ireland’s Olympic medallists from London will be present at the function.

Commenting on the event, Oakleaf chairman, Eugene O’Kane, said he was delighted that Derry had been seleected to host the international.

“Obviously, it was great to be given the honour of hosting the event as we are currently celebrating our 20th anniversary and it’s a challenge we are looking forward to,” he said.

“Derry’s history in Irish Amateur Boxing has been well documented down the years and with youngsters still coming through the ranks, the future looks bright,” he added.

“I would imagine the Everglades will be pack to capacity for the event given the quality of the boxers in action,” concluded Mr. O’Kane.