The Portlaoise BC middleweight qualified for Rio 2016 after earning a unanimous decision (29-28,29-28,29-28) over Azerbaijan’s Shinebayor Narmandakh in the quarter-finals of the World Olympic qualifiers in Baku, Azerbaijan today.
The top five middleweights in Baku qualify for the 31st Olympiad and the Irish European Games champion and World Elite bronze medallist is now into the last-four in the Azeri capital.
O’Reilly, the No. 1 seed in Baku, said he was absolutely thrilled with his victory, and Irish coach Eddie Bolger, who was working O’Reilly’s corner with Ireland chief seconds Zaur Antia, hailed his discipline.
He said: “It was a tense affair as you can imagine and it would have been easy for Michael to break discipline, but he was cool and stuck to the game plan in each round.
“Michael must take credit for this and deserved his win. He was focused in his preperation and during the bout. To beat the home boy always brings added pressure but Michael ‘s attitude and discipline was key. We are delighted for him and everyone involved.”
Pat Ryan, President of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) and head coach with the 86-year-old Portlaoise BC, hailed today’s performances.
“Congratulations to Michael and our coaches in staff in Baku on a magnificent achievemnet. This success is testiment to how our clubs are developing under the auspices and guidance of the National Association,” he said.
O’Reilly joins Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes, Brendan Irvine, Michael Conlan, David Oliver Joyce, Steven Donnelly and Joe Ward on the plane to Rio.
The Irish champion, who is guaranteed at least bronze in Baku, will be back in action in the last-four tomorrow versus either Raul Sanchez of the Dominican Republic or Waheed Abdulridha Waheed of Iraq.
But the biggest prize of all – a ticket to August’s Olympics – has already been secured
Tipperary super-heavyweight Dean Gardiner will be between the ropes tomorrow two wins away from qualifying for the 2016 Games.
There is only one Rio place for super-heavyweight in Baku and Gardiner must win gold.
Zuar Antia and Eddie Bolger are working Ireland’s corner in Azerbaijan.
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) v Waheed Abdulridha Waheed (Iraq)
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) v Alexei Zavatin (Moldova)
64kg (Light-welter) Dean Walsh (St Josephs/St Ibars)
75kg (Middleweight) Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise) (Qualified for Rio 2016 and at least a bronze medal)
91kg (Heavyweight) Darren O’Neill (Paulstown)
91kg + (Super-heavy) Dean Gardiner (Clonmel) (Bronze, at least).
Team manager Joe Hennigan
Coaches: Zaur Antia and Eddie Bolger
Performance Analyst Alan Swanton
Sports Psychologist: Gerry Hussey