The journey to Rio 2016 resumes at Dublin’s National Stadium tonight.
The women’s semi-finals will be decided at the flagship event of Irish boxing at the home of Irish boxing.
The men’s preliminaries get underway tomorrow evening. The draw will be made between 11.30am and 12pm tomorrow after the weigh-ins between 8.30am and 11am tomorrow.
The IABA are running the National Elites twice this year to assist Ireland’s boxers heading into the Olympic qualifiers in 2016.
There is a precedent for holding the Championships twice in the same calendar year, as the IABA ran the National Elite Championships twice in 2003 in the lead up to the Olympics qualifiers, with Andy Lee, the current WBO World middleweight champion, booking a ticket for Athens 2004 after winning bronze at the 2004 Europeans in Croatia.
AIBA World No. 1 and World No. 3 ranked Katie Taylor and Michael O’Reilly, both current European Games champions, have entered for the second edition of the Elites in 2015.
Taylor, the current Olympic, World, European, European Games and European Union lightweight champion, may box for an Irish title – all four of her Irish belts have been won on walkovers so far – for the first time in her remarkable career at a venue where she featured as a 15-year-old in the first ever officially sanctioned female bout versus Alanna Murphy in 2001.
Clare’s Kayleigh Murrihy-McCormack and Tipperary’s Shauna O’Keeffe have entered against the Bray woman for the vacant belt. The Munster pair, both 21 and both current and ex Intermediate champions with ten Irish underage titles between them, clash over four, two minute rounds in the 60kg semi-final on Friday for the right to face the best pound-for-pound female boxer on the planet on November 27.
“I’ve trained very hard for the Elites and I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity to box for an Irish belt,” said Taylor, who was one of the first to weigh-in last Friday morning.
Elsewhere in the women’s Olympic weight classes, Ceire Smith and Michaela Walsh have received byes into the 51kg final. Smith scored a stunning split decision over current World Elite champion Marlen Esparza (USA) in Poland this year, while Walsh is the 2014 Commonwealth Games finalist.
Michael O’Reilly has had a spectacular year by any standard. The Portlaoise BC middleweight won European Games gold and World Elite bronze in 2015 to move to No. 3 in the AIBA rankings in the 75kg class.
He was controversially denied a place at Rio 2016 following a “defeat” to Egypt’s Hosam Abdin in a box-off for a place at the Olympics at the World Championships in Qatar.
O’Reilly will be aiming to bounce back from that outrageous result to get another opportunity at Olympic qualification, but will come up against formidable opposition in the middleweight division at the National Elites.
Meanwhile, with Paddy Barnes having qualified for Rio in the light-fly through the World Series of Boxing, Brendan Irvine, who claimed his first Elite belt at light-fly earlier this year, has moved up to fly and could meet Limerick’s Myles Casey, the defending champion.
Three-time European Union Elite champion David Oliver Joyce makes a welcome return to action at the National Stadium in the lightweight class and could go head-to-head with defending champion Sean McComb, a European Games bronze medallist, in what will surely be an explosive 60kg duel.
London 2012 Olympians Darren O’Neill and Adam Nolan, the defending champions in the heavyweight and welterweight classes, are also in the mix in the flagship tournament of Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport.
The first European men’s and women’s Olympic qualifier will be held in Istanbul, Turkey in April, followed by the Women’s World Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Kazakhstan in May.
There will be further qualifiers through the World Series of Boxing and AIBA Pro Boxing and one final world qualifier for men in Baku, Azerbaijan in June.
So far, Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan and Joe Ward have qualified for Rio 2016. There are ten further Rio 2016 places – seven male and three female – up for grabs for Ireland’s Elite boxers between now and next June.
It’s all to play for on the road to the 31st Olympiad.The journey resumes at the National Stadium this Friday evening and continues over the coming weekends.
The women’s finals will be decided on November 27th. The men’s finals will be resolved on December 11th and tickets can be secured through tickets.ie
National Elite Championships
50kg Jack Mallen (Old School) V Craig Kavanagh (Crumlin)
54kg Terry McEntee (Old School) V Mark Corcoram (Corinthians)
60kg Scott Hanaway (St Saviours OBA) V Thomas Myers (Sligo City)
75kg David Biscevis (St Saviours OBA) V Shane Egan (Bracken)
75kg Christopher O’Reilly (Bracken) V James Clancy (Ballynacargy)
National Elite Championships
48kg Donna Barr (Twin Towns) V Alexandra Kornaga (Carrickmacross)
54kg Elaine Harrison (Ardnaree) V Jade Corcoran (Crumlin)
60kg Kayleigh Murrihy- McCormack (Kilfenora) V Shauna O’Keefe (Clonmel)
64kg Shanice Just (Arklow) V Cheyanne O’Neill (Athlone)
69kg Tina Donnelly (Corinthians) V Grainne Walsh (Sparticus)
48kg Lauren Hogan (St Brigids Edenderry) V Winner
51kg Michaela Walsh (Holy Family GG) V Ceire Smith (Cavan)
54kg Dervla Duffy (St Brigids Kildare) V Winner
57kg Joanne Lambe (Carrickmacross) V Moira McElligott)
60kg Katie Taylor (Bray) V Winner
64kg Kelly Harrington (Glasnevin) V Winner
69kg Clare Grace (Callan) V Winner
75kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgans) W/O
81+kg Diana Cambell (Garda) V Maeve McCarron (Carrigart)