Team Ireland at Dublin Airport

Team Ireland at Dublin Airport

Ireland finished in 2nd spot in the medals table at the 92-nation World Olympic qualifiers in Baku, Azerbaijan in a tremendous confidence booster ahead of August’s Olympics.

Click here here  here and here for tournament stats.

Azerbaijan, Ireland, Great Britain and the Netherlands, in that order, commanded the top four positions.

Portlaoise BC middleweight Michael O’Reilly qualified for Rio and secured gold and Tipperary super-heavy Dean Gardiner took home silver from Baku.

O’Reilly won Saturday’s final – his fifth victory in the Azeri capital –  on a walkover after Turkmenistan’s Arslan Achilov withdrew because of a facial cut he picked up in the semi-finals.

O’Reilly was denied an Olympic place by a controversial decision at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar last year.

He said: “It was in the back of my mind (Doha), but I knew this was my last chance and I had to put everything on the line. I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve in Baku.

“I would like to thank my wife and family, the Irish Athletic Boxing Association and coaches Zaur Antia and Eddie Bolger, my club and club coach Pat Ryan for their belief in me.”

O’Reilly earned three 30-27 decisions in Baku and one 29-28 verdict and won eleven of the twelve rounds he competed in in his four fights.

IABA President Pat Ryan with Michael O'Reilly and Dean Gardiner

IABA President Pat Ryan with Michael O’Reilly and Dean Gardiner

Eight Irish boxers – O’Reilly, Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes, Brendan Irvine, Michael Conlan, David Oliver Joyce,  Steven Donnelly and Joe Ward have now qualified for August’s Olympics.

Zaur Antia and Eddie Bolger were working Ireland’s corner in Baku.

Meanwhile, Mayo light-welter Ray Moylette will be aiming to improve that total to nine at the final Olympic qualifier which begins in Vargas, Venezuela on July 3.

Ostensibly a World Series of Boxing versus AIBA Pro boxing tournament, the Latin American qualifiers are also open to pro boxers, although it is unclear how man pros, if any, have registered.

Moylette, an ex European Elite and World Youth champion, will book a Rio ticket if he finishes in the top three in Vargas.

The finalists qualify automatically in the 64kg class and the beaten semi-finalists box off for third place.