Irish boxing will be taking home at least six bronze medals from the 2nd European Games in Minsk.
And just to get the gender balance right, the medals have been claimed by three men and three women!
World and EU champions Kellie Harrington and Kurt Walker, Michaela Walsh and Grainne Walsh, both of whom recorded sensational wins over current World and European feather and welter gold medallists today, joined Regan Buckley and Michael Nevin in Friday’s semi-finals.
Irish boxing has now won 10 medals from the last two European Games, with the class of 2019 surpassing the 2015 squad – which won two gold, silver and bronze, courtesy of Katie Taylor, Michael O’Reilly, Brendan Irvine and Sean McComb, at Baku 2015 – in terms of quantity.
Harrington, the Irish captain at the Games, chalked up her third straight victory over Irma Testa to advance to the last four. The No. 1 seed in the lightweight class in Minsk won on a 4-1 split and earned one 10-8 round from one judge into the bargain.
Michaela Walsh beat German’s World feather champion Ornella Warner on a 4-1 split, while Grainne Walsh produced a top drawer performance against Finland’s No. 1 seed Elina Gustafsson to ensure she will be standing on the winner’s podium this weekend.
Walker had to come from behind to register his second successive victory over France’s Samuel Kistohurry in the bantam class. Kistohurry edged the first round on a 3-2 but Walker took the second and third frames across the board to seal the victory.
“It feels brilliant,” said the No. 4 seed in Belarus. “It’s probably the first ever time I’ve fought in that style.
“He was too fit to keep off and he would have caught me on the back foot so I had to fight his style which I’ve never really done, so I’m just glad I tried it and won myself a medal.
“That’s two tough fights now, but I’m happy, I’m improving every time. Our team is flying at the moment so it’s brilliant.”
Aoife O’Rourke lost out to Welsh southpaw in the middleweight division. The No. 2 seed in the 75kg bracket won on a unanimous verdict, 30-27 across the board, but a big performance from O’Rourke against the World and European bronze medallist.
Thursday is a rest day for boxers in Minsk. The semi-finals will be decided on Friday with the finals pencilled in for Saturday and Sunday.
Team Ireland, which will have one of the highest representations in the last four of the 44-nation tournament on Friday, is due home at 11am on Monday morning via Dublin Airport.
Six medals will be on board their flight. The colour of those medals will be determined this weekend.
(Images courtesy of Stephen Molloy and Team Ireland)
European Games 2019 Minsk, Belarus
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
49kg Regan Buckley (Ireland) v Artur Hovannisyan (Armenia)
56kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) v Peter McGrail (Team GB)
57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) v Daria Abramova (Russia)
60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) v Agnes Alexiusson (Sweden)
69kg Grainne Walsh (Ireland) v Karolina Koszewska (Poland)
75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) Salavtore Cavallaro (Italy)
69kg Kieran Molloy (Ireland) beat Goce Janeski (Northern Macedonia) 5-0
75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) beat Mark Dickinson (Team GB) 3-2
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
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
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
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