Ireland has won 15 of their 20 bouts since last Saturday going into Friday’s European Games semi-finals in Minsk.
Irish captain Kellie Harrington, Regan Buckley, Michaela Walsh, Kurt Walker, Grainne Walsh and Michael Nevin are between the ropes looking to upgrade their guaranteed bronze to at least silver at the 2nd edition of the Games.
Michaela and Grainne are the first in action versus Russia and Poland in the afternoon session which begins at 12 noon (Irish time)
Buckley, Walker, Harrington and Nevin fight in the 2nd session which starts at 4.30pm (Irish time).
Buckley meets Rio 2016 Olympian Artur Hovannisyan.The Armenian lost to Spain’s Samuel Carmona in his first bout at the 31st Olympiad. Carmona shocked three-time Irish Olympian Paddy Barnes in Rio but lost to Buckley’s Irish team-mate Brendan Irvine at the World Youths in 2014.
Buckley, the second successive Bray fighter to medal at the European Games besides Katie Taylor (gold) in Baku in 2015, returned from the pro ranks after two paid fights (he won both) in 2017.
Friday’s meeting of Antrim’s Kurt Walker and England’s Peter McGrail is a repeat of last November’s EU final which Walker won in Spain on a split in a reversal of the Commonwealth final which the Liverpool bantam won in Australia on a split a few months earlier. McGrail, by virtue of being the current European Elite titlist, is the No.1 seed in Minsk. Walker is No.4.
Laois-native Nevin won three bouts in 4 days in Minsk and faces Italian middleweight Salavtore Cavallaro for a place in the 75kg final. Both men have never traded leather competitively but sparred at the University of Ulster in a training camp leading up to the Games.
Grainne Walsh crosses swords with Poland’s Karolina Koszewska.The Warsaw southpaw has been on the road since 2002. Offaly welter Walsh, a European Union bronze medallist, convincingly beat Finland’s European Elite champion Elina Gustafsson in the last eight yesterday.
Dublin’s World Elite lightweight champion Harrington, the No. 1 seed in Belarus, is in against experienced Agnes Alexiusson.The Swede beat Finland’s Mira Potkonen, who eliminated Katie Taylor at Rio 2016, this year.
Belfast feather Michaela Walsh crosses swords with Daria Abramova in a repeat of the 2018 European Elite semi-final which the Russian shaded on a 3-2 split en route to gold in Sofia.
The 11-strong Irish squad have a training session scheduled for today ahead of Friday’s weigh-ins in Minsk.
Click here for weekend’s finals schedule. The finals will be decided on Saturday and Sunday.
Team Ireland are due to arrive home at 11am next Monday morning via Dublin Airport via Frankfurt.
Click on Irish names below for approximate bouts times (Irish time apply).
European Games 2019 Minsk, Belarus
49kg Regan Buckley (Ireland) v Artur Hovannisyan (Armenia) (6.15pm)
56kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) v Peter McGrail (Team GB) (6.30pm)
57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) v Daria Abramova (Russia) (12pm)
60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) v Agnes Alexiusson (Sweden) (5pm)
69kg Grainne Walsh (Ireland) v Karolina Koszewska (Poland) (12.45pm)
75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) v Salavtore Cavallaro (Italy) (7.45pm)
56kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) beat Samuel Kistohurry (France) 5-0
57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) beat Ornella Wahner (Germany) 4-1
60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) beat Irma Testa (Italy) 4-1
69kg Grainne Walsh (Ireland) beat Elina Gustafsson (Finland) 5-0
75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Ireland) lost to Lauren Price (Team GB) 0-5
64kg James McGivern (Ireland) lost to Hovhannes Bachkov (Armenia) 0-5
75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Ireland) beat Viktoryia Kebikova (Belarus) 4-1
49kg Regan Buckley (Ireland) beat Martin Molina (Spain) 4-1
75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) beat Guler Serhat (Turkey) 4-1
56kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) beat Zhirayr Saeqsyan (Armenia) 4-1
57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) beat Lenuta Perijoc (Romania) 4-1
69kg Kieran Molloy (Ireland) lost to Yauheni Dauhaliavets (Belarus) 4-1
69kg Grainne Walsh (Ireland) beat Rosie Eccles (Team GB) 4-1
91+kg Dean Gardiner (Ireland) lost to Mikheil Bakhtidze (Georgia) 1-4
49kg Regan Buckley (Ireland) beat Bator Sagalvev (Russia) 5-0
75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) beat Kamran Shakhsuvarly (Azerbaijan) 5-0
91kg Anthony Browne (Ireland) lost to Toni Filipi (Croatia) 1-4
64kg James McGivern (Ireland) beat Michael Takacs (Slovakia) 5-0
69kg Kieran Molloy (Ireland) beat Goce Janeski (Northern Macedonia) 5-0
75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) beat Mark Dickinson (Team GB) 3-2
57kg Michaela Walsh (Monsktown A) (Bronze, at least)
60kg Kellie Harrington (St Marys) (Bronze, at least)
69kg Gráinne Walsh (Spartacus) (Bronze, at least)
75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Castlerea)
49kg Regan Buckley (St Teresa’s) (Bronze, at least)
56kg Kurt Walker (Canal) (Bronze, at least)
64kg James McGivern (St George’s)
69kg Kieran Molloy (Oughterard)
75kg Michael Nevin (Portlaoise) (Bronze, at least)
91kg Tony Browne (St Michael’s Dublin)
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Clonmel)
Team manager: Bernard Dunne
Coaches: Zaur Antia, John Conlan, Dmitry Dimitruk