THE success story that is Kilkenny boxing was strengthened as the county’s clubs picked up several medals and had more national champions crowned.
The Marble City Boxing Club highlighted the brilliance of several of their under-age fighters when they gained success in youths and schoolboy events at Leinster and All-Ireland levels.
With the national championships fast approaching five fighters from the club represented the province with excellent performances in the Leinster championship. Jack Sheridan, Shane Staunton, Paul Cody, Martin O’Connell, Mick Power and Sean Purcell all came through tough divisions to reach their respected finals.
The club’s first finalist was Jack Sheridan, who gave a great display as he showed great heart in the ring. Sheridan was beaten in his match, but showed that he will be a contender again next year.
Shane Staunton was next into the ring for the Marble City, taking on a tough opponent in Ryan Kirwan of Sacre Coeur. Working well from the start, Staunton continued his dominance throughout the fight as he took the title on a score of 11-9.
Paul Cody hoped to keep the run going when he took on Anthony Callaghan of Clann Naofa, but finished on the wrong side of a 9-6 result.
Martin O’Connell ensured the club got back into a winning habit when he took on Steven O’Rourke-Fennelly from Athy. O’Connell was outstanding in this bout, doing everything well as he took the spoils on a 9-6 scoreline.
There was no such luck for Mick Power, who gave his all but came up short in his fight against Pierre Stokes from Ballynacargy, losing on a 15-11 scoreline.
The Leinster finals ended on a high as Sean Purcell took on another tough opponent in Stephen Thackaberry of Kilcullen in the 48kg bout. Purcell raced straight out of the blocks, controlling the bout from the first bell. Purcell didn’t let up until he had secured a convincing 9-1 victory, showing why he was tipped to do well in the national championships.
There was more success for the club as the Marble City were awarded the Leinster Trophy for being the best juvenile club in the province.
Further success was secured in the Boy Four division as the Marble City added more championships through Kevin Kehoe and Conor Ivors.
Ivors came through a tough semi-final, bouncing back from a one-point deficit to win by two, to go through to face European gold medallist James McGivern in the All-Ireland final. Ivors gave an outstanding performance from the bell, bobbing and weaving his way to a unanimous victory and his first All-Ireland championship.
Next up was Kevin Kehoe, who moved into the final on the back of a fantastic first round stoppage in the semi-final. In the decider he took on the talented Christopher O’Reilly of Bracken.
Both boxers know each other well from their time together in the Irish schoolboy elite squad which represented Ireland in an international in Kilkenny last year.
The fighters started well, giving very little away to each other as they combined defensive work with some great exchanges. Kehoe was a point down after the first round, but was able to level the scores going into the final round.
The third round started at a furious pace, with O’Reilly winning the early exchanges. Kehoe battled back, but fell short on the judges’ cards as he lost 7-5.
There was joy also for the Paulstown Boxing Club, who added two new All-Ireland champions to their roll of honour recently.
Shane Flavin was first on the list when he was crowned the Boy Four National 39kg champion at the National Stadium Dublin.
Flavin booked his place in the final when he beat John Stokes from the St Seachnall’s club in Meath in his semi-final.
The young fighter did even better in his final. Leading 7-6 going into the final round, Flavin produced a superb performance to beat Terry McEntee of Old School BC Monaghan by a final score of 14-8.
The club added their second All-Ireland title when Jamie Cullen was crowned the Boy 4 National 54kg champion.
Cullen came through a tough semi-final, beating Aaron Harkins of Illies Golden Gloves BC, Donegal to book his place in the final against John Sweeney, the reigning European silver medallist, from Innisfree BC.
In a gripping final, Cullen trailed by a single point after the first round. Growing in confidence, the Kilkenny fighter imposed his stamp on the bout, upsetting the odds and securing that second national title for the club with a score of 10-8.