Oakleaf Boxing Club’s end of season Odran McKinney Memorial tournament proved to be an outstanding success at the Maldron Hotel last Friday evening.
The matchmakers at the event haveto be congratulated for putting on such a crowd-pleasing list of evenly matched contests from the opening 20kgs exhibition bout right up to Sean McGlinchey’s superb victory over Brian Ward in a light heavyweight clash.
Two of Oakleaf’s ‘Kid Gloves’ boxers got proceedings off to a great start with an entertaining exhibition featuring six year-old Newbuildings youngster, Lucas McIvor, and eight year-old Reece Casey from Meenan Park.
When the final bell sounded, the two young stars of the future received the biggest cheer of the night. Two more excellent exhibitions followed, Oakleaf’s Sean Dowd and Mark Doherty and Ballymoney’s Jess Rankin and Jamie Bradley all entertained the packed house.
Twelve year-old Troy Bell then got the home side off on winning ways with an excellent win over Eglinton’s Conor Weatherall.
Jason Doherty can consider himself a little unlucky to lose out to Carson Keys (Coleraine ABC) on a 2-1 split decision while Conor Coll lost out on points to Eglinton’s Luke McLaughlin 3-0. Next up for Oakleaf was three times Irish champion Aaron Rogan making a welcome return to the ring after an absence of almost five years. They say class never fades and this was clearly evident in his match up with All Saints man Conor Magee. Although clearly not fit, ‘Rogie’ was in a different class, taking it 3-0 on points.
Ten year-old Ella Hughes, Newbuilding BC, and Grace Quinn, St John’s, boxed a very entertaining exhibition contest and, in the other exhibition, Oakleaf’s Adam McIvor and Sean Devenny showed just why they are so highly regarded.
Oakleaf continued their winning ways with two more excellent performances by Kian Divin and Tony McDivitt. Divin out-pointed Adam Weatherall, Eglinton, 3-0 on points and Tony McDivitt had to dig deep to out point Joss Gibson, Convoy BC, 2-1 by split decision.
It was an emotional occasion for Gearoid McGilloway who has retired from boxing to concentrate on coaching at the club. Oakleaf’s first ever Irish champion was involved in an entertaining no decision with six times Ulster Senior Champion TJ Hamill.
After the contest, club secretary Eugene O’Kane presented Gearoid with a gift of Derry Crystal to mark his contribution to the club.
Who else to round off a great night boxing but Oakleaf’s Ulster Senior light heavyweight champion, Sean McGlinchey.
After a fairly quiet first round, southpaw McGlinchey began loading up with powerful shots to Brian Ward’s head and body, rocking the Galway man with a body shot.
Round three saw the excellent McGlinchey really turn on the pressure, continually forcing Ward against the ropes. James McCarron raising The Oakleaf mans hand for a 3-0 win.
It proved a brilliant finale to top off an entertaining Memorial Tournament and a fitting tribute to the memory of the late Strathfoyle man.