Irish boxing will have to sit through another edge of the seat conclusion to a major tournament at the World Olympic qualifiers in Baku, Azerbaijan tomorrow.
Tipperary super-heavy Dean Gardiner, pictured above, moved to within one win of a place at the Rio Olympics after beating Moldova’s Alexei Zavatin in today’s 91kg+ semi-final.
The Clonmel BC man earned a 29-28 decision across the board in the super-heavyweight class.
See below attachment for today’s results.
He’ll meet Italy’s Guido Vianello in Saturday’s final will a place at the 2016 Olympics on the line.
Super-heavyweights must win gold in Baku to book a Rio ticket. Vianello beat Marlo Moore of the USA in the corresponding semi-final this afternoon.
Michael O’Reilly is also through to Saturday’s finals. The slick Portlaoise BC middleweight beat Iraq’s London 2012 Olympian Waheed Abdulridha Waheed on a unanimous verdict in the 75kg semi-final today.
O’Reilly qualified for Rio by virtue of reaching the last four, as the top five middleweights in the Azeri capital book tickets for the 31st Olympiad.
Gardiner and O’Reilly are both guaranteed at least silver at the penultimate Olympic qualifiers.
But for Gardiner the Rio ticket attached to the gold medal is the glittering prize.
Irish Draw Baku Olympic qualifiers
91kg Darren O’Neill (Ireland) beat Mustafa El Molla (Sweden) 3-0
64kg Dean Walsh (Ireland) lost to Smetov Ismetov (Bulgaria) 0-3
91kg+ Dean Gardiner beat Satish Kumar (India) 2-1
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) beat Vitalia Bandarenka (Belarus) 3-0 (last 32)
91kg Darren O’Neill (Ireland) lost to Wesley Apochi (Nigeria) 0-3 (last 16)
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) beat Shinebayor Narmandakh (Mongolia) 3-0
91+kg Dean Gardiner (Ireland) beat Viktor Vychryst (Ukraine) 3-0
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) beat Kamran Shakhsuvarly (Azerbaijan) 3-0
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) beat Waheed Abdulridha Waheed (Iraq) 3-0
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) beat Alexei Zavatin (Moldova) 3-0
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) v Arslan Achilov (Turkmenistan) (to be confirmed)
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) v Guido Vianello (Italy)
64kg (Light-welter) Dean Walsh (St Josephs/St Ibars)
75kg (Middleweight) Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise) (Qualified for Rio 2016 and at least a silver medal)
91kg (Heavyweight) Darren O’Neill (Paulstown)
91kg + (Super-heavy) Dean Gardiner (Clonmel) (Silver, at least).
Team manager Joe Hennigan
Coaches: Zaur Antia and Eddie Bolger
Performance Analyst Alan Swanton
Sports Psychologist: Gerry Hussey