Karl McLoughlin with his daughter Kellie following her gold medal win

The Irish Athletic Third-level Boxing Association (IATBA) sent a ten strong team to the Haringey Box Cup at the weekend. From the ten, five boxers made it through to finals day and two boxers, Kellie McLoughlin and Christina Desmond came home with Gold medals while Conor Jennings, Rivers McCormack and Ryan Dervan took silver!

DCU also sent Shane Carter and John Marshall to London but unfortunately both men missed out on the final.

Full report below.

Day 1 saw six boxers in action with Clodagh McComiskey (Gilford B.C/Southern Regional College) getting the Irish Colleges and Universities team off to a winning start with a comprehensive victory over Ashleigh Pond (Heart of Portsmouth B.C.).

Grainne Walsh was next up and she was adjudged to have lost 3-2 to the Team England boxer Kerrie Davies. Grainne knew that she was well below her best on the day and with five English judges sitting around the ring, she couldn’t afford an off day! Many in attendance felt the wrong boxer was declared the winner but such is the life of a boxer.

Ian Kelleher (Togher B.C./Cork IT) was in action at the same time as Grainne Walsh and despite his best efforts, he came up short against Cam Shaw (York ABC). This was the first run out for Ian at International style boxing and the experience gained from the weekend will stand to him in his future boxing career.

Shane O’Brien (St.Francis/UCC)  was next in against the highly fancied James Fielding (Repton B.C). What started off as a cagey opening soon turned into a state of control by O’Brien as he was landing the cleaner and more telling shots. He was dominating the contest and had it won bar a slip of his guard with less than five seconds to go and he got caught with a cracking hook which dropped him to his knees. He beat the count but the referee waved it off much to his annoyance. It’s the small things that make the big differences in the ring and Shane can be very proud of his performance against the eventual champion.

Shane Flavin (Paulstown B.C/Waterford IT) was next in action and he gave a controlled display of boxing to see off Kealan McFadden (Brighton & Hove B.C). Flavin used all his experience to control the bout from start to finish and send himself onto the semi finals.

Ryan Dervan (Loughrea/NUIG) was last in the ring on day 1 and he made the long wait worthwhile as he kayoed Emmanuel Bautista (Double Jab B.C) with a cracking hook to send his home fans who had travelled over wild with delight. Bautista acknowledged the shot afterwards and wished Dervan every success for the remainder of the tournament.

Saturday saw the semi-finals starting at 12 noon and Conor Jennings (St.Monicas/Southern Regional College) was in first. He faced Conor Tiki Irving (Harrowgate ABC). Jennings started slowly but grew into the contest as the time wore on and by the end of round three, Irving was glad to hear the bell. The Irish boxer was hurting the Englishman with straight right-hand shots time after time. The referee rightly raised Jennings hand to send him into his first Box Cup final.

Kellie McLoughlin (Drimnagh B.C./Inchicore College of Further Education) was our second boxer in the ring and she gave a display of controlled boxing from the first to the last bell where she out thought Bianca Haynes (London Community Boxing Team) in every department. She moved into the final with a statement of intent – she was here to win!

Clodagh McComiskey was the next boxer in action for the Irish Colleges and Universities team and she gave a brilliant display of boxing against England’s star girl, Ebonie Jones (Army Boxing Team). Jones used her experience and fitness to great effect against McComiskey, who carried a rib injury into the contest. On another day, with a fully fit McComiskey, this result may have been different! However, Clodagh can be very proud of her efforts and she left absolutely everything in the ring in terms of performance and she has a bright future in the sport.

Rivers McCormack (St.Saviours OBA/DCU) was in next and she had a real tear up with Shanice James (Royal Artillery). These two girls met each other in the centre of the ring and bombarded each other with big shots. McCormack, shorter by quite a bit, unleashed some serious body shots which were slowing her taller opponent down and she was accurate with straight shots to the head. After three pulsating rounds, the unanimous winner was Rivie McCormack.

Shane Flavin boxed next against Kings Heath boxer, Liam Davies. Shane was slow out of the blocks and this allowed Davies to control the first round. In the second, Flavin tried in vain to land the overland right as Davies stayed out of danger most of the time and used his jab to keep Shane away. In the third, Flavin went back to his boxing and won the round well but alas, the slow start ended up costing him the bout. Davies went through to the final but only just amd Shane Flavin may wonder what might have been if he had stuck to his boxing in that initial round!

Ryan Dervan again was our last man in action and he carried the hopes of the team, as it would be a first to have five boxers in the final, if he won. He also carried a badly bruised eye into the contest but despite this, he had an excellent opening two rounds to leave himself safe, barring a stoppage in the last. The last round was not his best but he had the work done in the first two to seal his place in the final and in doing so, make a bit of history for the IATBA.

Finals day was Sunday and again boxing started at 12 noon. Conor Jennings was in first and he gave a brilliant performance against Sam Dawson (St.Marys B.C. Chatham) but after three pulsating rounds of hard hitting, he came out on the wrong side of a 3-2 split decision. Again, many of the crowd in attendance felt he had done more than enough to win it, but regardless of that, his efforts over the weekend have marked him out as one for the future. Armagh GAA’s loss is boxings gain!

Kellie McLoughlin stepped into the ring for her final in a very relaxed and composed state. She faced Zoe Koh (Box-Club Basel) for the Gold medal. Kellie was clever from from the opening bell using her reach to good effect to keep Swiss boxer at a safe distance. In the second she used excellent footwork to stay moving while landing shots and leaving Koh requiring a knockout in round 3 to take the title. In the final round, McLoughlin again used excellent footwork and nailed her opponent at every opportunity with some excellent backhand shots. As the final bell sounded, the obvious winner was Kellie McLoughlin and this was confirmed by the unanimous decision. This was an excellent weekend of boxing by Kellie and it was good to win such a prestigious event.

Rivers McCormack went into her final knowing she’d have to pull out all the stops to beat Team Englands Shona Whitwell. In the first, Rivie was bobbing and weaving to deny the taller English girl easy scores. However, on one occasion when a shot glanced of her, the referee jumped in for a count. In the second, Rivie again came looking for Whitwell and as she threw a shot and fell to the canvass with her momentum. The referee jumped in and handed out a count despite the protests of the Irish boxer. Later in the round, another count was handed out which put paid to McCormacks chances of gold. The DCU girl can be proud of her performances over the weekend and her all action style must flow from the family gene pool.

Christina Desmond (Fr.Horgans/LIT Tipperary) was next in action against Elena Narazanski (Nemesis B.C.) and the World Student Games bronze medalist didn’t disappoint  with her performance. She landed lead hand hooks and straight lefts to the head from her southpaw stance which began to hurt Narazanski early in the first round. As the round wore on, Desmond applied even more pressure and eventually the referee jumped in with a count after more big shots from Christina. The bell for the end of round one was probably the best thing the Nemesis boxer heard that day but Christina Desmond had no intentions of letting her off the hook. When the second round started, so too did the Irish girls attacks and the referee again had to jump in with a count to offer some respite to Narazanski. As soon as he said box, Desmond was back in landing powerful and hurting backhands to the body and head. The pressure became relentless and after seeing Narazanskis head being rocked once too often, the referee jumped in to save her leaving Desmond winner by knockout in round two. Christina Desmond has the perfect relaxed attitude for boxing outside the ring and the perfect controlled aggression for boxing when in the ring…Tokyo 2020 watch out!

Last in action for the IATBA team was Loughrea warrior Ryan Dervan. He faced the tough English number three Lewis Richardson and despite a gallant effort over the three rounds, Dervan couldn’t repeat the heroics of his quarter and semi final wins. He landed some good shots throughout the contest but Richardson beat him to the punch on occasions as he came into the bout fresher from his semi final. Dervan should be delighted with his performances over the weekend as he showed he has the tools in place to mix it with the best middleweights around.

Overall it was a hugely successful weekend of boxing and all the boxers performed to a high standard. The mantra is perform in the ring and let the judges look after the result. Occasionally, you have to take that decision into your own hands and stop the opponent as you can never rely completely on judges!

A special word of thanks goes to Team Manager Paul Geoghegan who puts endless hours of unseen work into organising these events and planning for every single scenario, so that all our student boxers can arrive at these events, hassle free, with every detail covered in advance.

Also thanks to Daniel Sweeney who worked the corners and was ably assisted by Eoin Murphy and Karl McLoughlin. DCU coaches Derek Ahearne and Terry Keegan also helped in the corners when boxers were on in different rings at the same time.

It would be remiss of me not to mention three standout Irish boxers in action over the weekend. Kieran Molloy (Oughterard B.C.), Paddy Donovan (O.L.O.L B.C) and Eamer Coughlan (Riverstown B.C.) who all won gold medals with outstanding performances and Coughlan also picked up the Best Youth Boxer award.

Attached pictures are:

Ryan Dervan with his silver medal
Eoin Murphy, Conor Jennings and Paddy Gallagher
Kellie McLoughlin and Rivers McCormack
Christina Desmond raises her arms following her gold medal win
Coach Daniel Sweeney gives instruction to Rivie McCormack
Ryan Dervan following his win
Clodagh McComiskey has her hand raised in victory
Grainne Walsh awaits the decision
Shane O’Brien and his Repton opponent
Paddy Gallagher, Kellie McLoughlin and Paul Geoghegan

Shane Flavin waits on the referee to raise his hand in victory

(Pictures and copy courtesy of Paddy Gallagher)