ireland's Rio Olympians with Irish coaches Zaur Antia and John Conlan

Ireland’s Rio Olympians with Irish coaches Zaur Antia and John Conlan



Click here for Rio schedule and here for venue.

Ireland’s boxers, coaches and support staff travelled over 50,000 miles into three Continents to secure eight Olympic tickets for Rio 2016.

There was a heartbreak along the way, with some not making it from a journey which tested the fortitude and resolve of Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport.

Olympic berths don’t come cheap, and Ireland’s Rio Olympians, none of whom enjoyed the luxury of boxing on Irish soil in a campaign which began in earnest early in 2014, earned their tickets the hard way battling across Asia, the Americas and Europe the World Series of Boxing, AIBA Pro Boxing and AIBA Open Boxing.

Ireland will be between the ropes in the female and male lightweight classes, light-fly, fly, bantam, welter, middle and light-heavy categories at the 31st Olympiad.

Ireland’s coaches like to say that the hardest part about any Olympics is getting there.That certainly proved to be true in relation to Rio with Team Ireland neither asking for or receiving any quarter against formidable opposition in partisan environments.

The maximum amount of boxers any nation can qualify for the Olympics is thirteen – 10 men and 3 women.

Ireland took eight of those places, a new Irish record since the qualification system was introduced for Barcelona 1992.The 1992 and London 2012 squads jointly held the previous record with six apiece qualified.

Team Ireland leave for Rio on July 19th and go into a ten-day training camp.

The squad enter the Olympic Village on July 29th. Boxing begins on August 6th at the 9,000 Pavilion 6 venue.

The 2016 Games will feature professional boxers for the first time in the history of the sport.



Irish boxers qualified

60kg (Lightweight) – Katie Taylor (Bray)

49kg (Light-flyweight) – Paddy Barnes (Holy Family)
52kg (Flyweight) – Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s)
56kg (Bantamweight) – Michael Conlan (Clonard)
60kg (Lightweight) – David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy & AIBA Pro Boxing)
69kg (Welterweight) – Steven Donnelly (All Saints)
75kg (Middleweight) – Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise)
81kg (Light-heavyweight) – Joe Ward (Moate & AIBA Pro Boxing)

Team Manager: Joe Hennigan
Coaches: Zaur Antia, Eddie Bolger, John Conlan


paddy barnes elc


Ireland’s Three-Time Olympians

Light-flyweight: Paddy Barnes (Holy Family) 2008/12/16 (Bronze 2008 & 2012)

Ireland’s Two-Time Olympians

Flyweight & Bantamweight: Michael Conlan (St John Bosco & Clonard) 2012/16 (Bronze 2012)
Lightweight: Katie Taylor (Bray) 2012/16  (Gold 2012)
Bantamweight: John Joe Nevin (Cavan) 2008/12 (Gold 2012) (Silver 2012)
Light-flyweight and flyweight: Wayne McCullough (Albert Foundry) 1988/92 (Silver 1992)
Lightweight and Welterweight: Michael Carruth (Drimnagh) 1988/92 (Gold 1992)
Welterweight and Middleweight: Kieran Joyce (Sunnyside) 1984/88
Featherweight: Paul Fitzgerald (Arklow) 1984/88
Bantamweight: Phil Sutcliffe (Drimnagh) 1980/84
Light-flyweight: Gerry Hawkins (Holy Trinity) 1980/84
Bantamweight: Mick Dowling (Arbour Hill & British Rail) 1968/72
Lightweight & Light-welterweight: Jim McCourt (Immaculata) 1964/68 (Bronze 1964)
Welterweight: Harry Perry (British Rail) 1956/60
Featherweight: Ando Reddy (Sandymount) 1952/60
Featherweight and Light-welter: Kevin Martin (Mount Street) 1948/52
Flyweight: Michael “Myles” McDonagh (Army) 1924/28
Middleweight & Light-heavyweight: Willie ‘Boy’ Murphy (Army & Garda) 1924/28

Ireland’s (Boxing) flag bearers at the Olympics

2016 Paddy Barnes
2012 Katie Taylor
1996 Francie Barrett
1988 Wayne McCullough
1968 Jim McCourt
1956 Tony Byrne
1928 Matt Flanagan


Ten Olympic facts

Katie Taylor has never been beaten at the Olympic Games

Michael Conlan is the only Irish male Olympian to hold an AIBA World Elite title

Paddy Barnes is the only Irish athlete to win successive Olympic medals (both bronze) since Pat O’Callaghan (hammer throw) won double gold at the 1928 and 1932 Games

Joe Ward is the only Irish boxer to qualify for the Olympic Youths (Singapore 2010) and the Olympics and the only Irish male boxer to win two European Elite titles

Michael O’Reilly heads to Rio as the current European Games Elite champion and a World Elite bronze medallist

David Oliver Joyce heads to Rio as a three-time European Union Elite champion. He’s the second St Michael’s Athy BC man after his 1st cousin John Joe Joyce (Beijing 2008) to qualify

Steven Donnelly qualified for Rio through the World Series of Boxing.

Twenty-year-old Brendan Irvine is the youngest member of the Irish team.

Paddy Barnes is the first Irish boxer to qualify for three Olympics.

Conlan and Taylor are ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes by AIBA




Ireland’s (Boxing) Medal Winners at the Olympic Games

Helsinki 1952
Bantamweight: John McNally (White City) Silver

Melbourne 1956

Flyweight: Johnny Caldwell (Immaculata) Bronze
Bantamweight: Freddie Gilroy (St John Bosco) Bronze
Lightweight: Tony Byrne (Tredagh) Bronze
Welterweight: Fred Tiedt (South City) Silver

Tokyo 1964
Lightweight: Jim McCourt (Immaculata) Bronze

Moscow 1980
Flyweight: Hughie Russell (Holy Family) Bronze

Barcelona 1992
Bantamweight: Wayne McCullough (Albert Foundry) Silver
Welterweight: Michael Carruth (Drimnagh) Gold

Beijing 2008
Light-flyweight: Paddy Barnes (Holy Family) Bronze
Middleweight: Darren Sutherland (St Saviours OBA) Bronze
Light-heavyweight: Ken Egan (Neilstown) Silver

London 2012
Light-flyweight: Paddy Barnes (Holy Family) Bronze
Flyweight: Michael Conlan (St John Bosco) Bronze
Bantamweight: John Joe Nevin (Cavan) Silver
Lightweight: Katie Taylor (Bray) Gold


Michael Conlan


How Ireland’s Eight Strong Squad Qualified For Rio 2016


April,2015 – Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes earned quota places for Rio following a tense and dramatic night in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) in Maiquetía, Venezuela. Barnes, who received a hot reception from the home fans, beat Finol Rivas on a split decision (49-45,49-45, 47-48) in the light-fly class in to book his ticket and Conlan beat Jose Diaz 49-46 across the board on a unanimous verdict. Barnes and Conlan were lining out for Italia Thunder. Any type of victory would have sufficed for Barnes from his last outing of the season against Rivas, and the Belfast orthodox once again delivered to record his 7th straight win for Thunder.Conlan needed to win his last fight of the WSB regular term and hope that Azeri bantam Magomed Gurbanov lost away to Puerto Rico’s Hector Garcia. Gurbanov was the favourite going into the clash, but Garcia dropped the Azeri in the fifth en route to a unanimous decision. The results saw Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin and Conlan finish in the top two places in the 56kg class and qualify.

October, 2015 – Michael Conlan beat Dzimitry Asanau of Belarus in the semi-finals of the World Elite Championships in Doha, Qatar on a unanimous decision to book Olympic qualification for a second time by virtue of finishing in the top three in the bantam class. Conlan, already qualified for Rio through the WSB, achieved the standard again in the Persian Gulf. The International Boxing Association informed National Federations in Doha that in the event of boxers reaching the qualification standard twice that the World place prevails. “It’s an ideal dilemma to have,” observed Conlan’s dad and Irish coach John Conlan. Conlan also went on to win gold to become the first Irish male boxer to secure an AIBA World Elite crown.The Irish captain won the first and third rounds of his 56kg semi-final 10-9 across the board to take a 30-27, 29-28,29-28 decision. Asanau split the judges in his favour in the second round, but Conlan was back on his toes and dominating – he found the target with six unanswered shots in the first 30 seconds of the final frame – to secure victory.

October, 2015 – Joe Ward qualified for Rio 2016 after beating Uzbek light-heavy in the AIBA World Elite 81kg semi-final in Doha, Qatar. The Irish southpaw earned a unanimous decision. The top two light-heavys on the Arabian Peninsula qualify and Ward also guaranteed himself at least silver. “It’s a massive win after the ups and downs I’ve had in my career, missing out on London [2012 Olympic Games]. Then I tried to go the APB route, I did okay at that but got pipped at the post a few times,” said Ward immediately after his win. “A lot of people wrote me off in a way, but I knew myself I’d stick with it. Eddie Bolger [coach] stuck with me, my family at home, my kids and my girlfriend motivated me to keep going and I got what I wanted. That’s my dream, to go to the Olympic Games and I’ve got a World silver medal.”

December, 2015 – The Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) were delighted to confirm that Steven Donnelly had achieved a quota place for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Pat Ryan and Fergal Carruth, President and CEO of the IABA, confirmed that they had been notified by the Olympic Council of Ireland that Donnelly had earned a quota place for the 31st Olympiad. Pat Ryan said: “We are absolutely delighted for Steven and for his club. Steven performed magnificently last season and he won his place on merit. Congratulations to him and all involved.” Fergal Carruth said: “We have received confirmation that Steven has been offered a quota place for the Olympic Games in Rio. This is fantastic news for our sport and congratulations to Steven and his club.” Donnelly, an ex Irish Elite champion, qualified through the World Series of Boxing (WSB). The All Saints BC (Ballymena) welterweight won five of his six outings for the Hussars of Poland in the WSB and finished in the top two in the 69kg WSB class after a number of convoluted scenarios involving results elsewhwere fell his way. However, the bottom line was that Donnelly won five WSB fights and fully deserved his seat on the plane to the 2016 Olympic Games.

April, 2016 – Brendan Irvine came from behind to see off the challenge of Bulgaria’s Daniel Asenov to secure an Olympic ticket in Samsun, Turkey. Both men – who were born on the same day a year apart, Irvine on May 17th, 1996 and Asenov on May 17th, 1997 – met in a third place box-off, with the winner guaranteed a ticket to Rio 2016. Irvine, the No. 1 seed in the flyweight class in Samsun, had to pull out all the stops to subdue his fiery opponent, who, to his credit, set a pace and never relented. Two of the judges split for Asenov at the end of a first frame which saw the Bulgarian land three big overhand rights. Irvine found his range at mid-way and hit the target with the punch of the bout, a sweet uppercut bang on the button.

April, 2016 – David Oliver Joyce qualified for Rio 2016 following an edge-of-the-seat box-off thriller with Turkey’s Volkan Gokcek on the final day of the 39-nation European Olympic qualifiers in Samsun, Turkey this afternoon. The St Michael’s Athy BC man, one of the great servants of the sport in Ireland, beat the Turkish lightweight on a split decision to realise what he described as his dream of becoming an Olympian. Joyce, who just doesn’t do borng victories, took the first round, but Gokcek claimed the second before Ireland’s three-time EU champion pulled out all the stops – and the proverbial kitchen sink – to nail the third frame and join his Irish team mates Brendan Irvine, who also qualified in Samsun, on the plane to the 31st Olympiad.

May, 2016 – Katie Taylor qualified for her second successive Olympics at the AIBA World Women’s Elite Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan.Taylor beat Mexico’s Victoria Torres in a fiery 60kg quarter-final to book her ticket into her sixth successive World Elite semi-final since New Delhi 2006. The top four lightweights in Doha qualify. The Bray woman, aiming for her sixth successive World title, lost out in the semi-final stage  on a split decision to France’s Estelle Mossely, an iffy decision given Taylor was on top in the last round. However, the Rio ticket was secured.

June, 2016 – Michael O’Reilly added the words Irish Olympian to his CV 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. The top five middleweights in Baku qualify for the 31st Olympiad and the Irish European Games champion and World Elite bronze medallist went on to win gold 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.”










Paddy Barnes

DOB: 09/04/1987

Weight: 49kg (Light-flyweight)

Club: Holy Family, Belfast

Club coaches: Gerry Storey

Stance: Orthodox

Ranked No.1 in World Series of Boxing 2015

Qualified for Rio through World Series of Boxing

Major International honours
2008 Olympics: Bronze
2008 European Union Championships (Silver)
2010 European Elite Championships (Gold)
2012 Olympics (Bronze)
2013 European Elite Championships (Silver)
2012 Olympics (Bronze)

Domestic Honours
Irish Elite champion: 2007/08/09/10/11/12/14


Brendan Irvine proudly displays his medal

Brendan Irvine

Date of Birth: 17/5/1996

Weight class: 52kg (Flyweight)

Club: St Paul’s, Antrim

Club coaches: Ralph Mckay

Stance: Orthodox

AIBA World Rank: 6 (at light-flyweight)

Qualified for Rio through European qualifiers in Turkey 2016

Major International honours
2015 World Elite Championships (quarter-finalist)
2015 European Games (Silver)
2015 Gee Bee Elite Multi-Nations (Gold)
2014 Pavlyukov Youth Memorial Tournament (Gold)

Domestic honours
2015 Elite champion x 2 (Irish Elite Championships were held twice in 2015)

Michael Conlan

Michael Conlan

DOB: 19/11/1991

Weight class: 56kg (Bantamweight)

Height : 172cm

Club: Clonard, Antrim

Club coaches: John Conlan

Stance: Orthodox

AIBA World Rank: 1

Qualified for Rio through World Series of Boxing 2015 and World Elite Championships Doha 2015

Major International honours
2015 World Elite Championships (Gold)
2015 European Elite Championships (Gold)
2014 Feliks Stamm Memorial (Gold)
2013 European Elite Championships (Silver)
2012 Olympics (Bronze)

Domestic honours
Elite champion 2014/13/12/11


Katie Taylor European Boxing Champion 2009






Katie Taylor

DOB: 02/07/1986

Weight 60kg (Lightweight)

Club: Bray

Club coaches:

Stance: Orthodox

AIBA World Rank: 1

Qualified for Rio through 2016 World Women’s Championships Kazakhstan

Major International Honours
Olympic Champion: 2012
World Elite champion 2006/08/10/14/14
World Elite Bronze medallist 2016
European Elite Champion: 05/06/07/09/11/14
EU Elite Champion: 08/09/10/11/13
European Games Champion: 2015

Domestic Honours
Elite champion: 2010/11/13/14/15


David Oliver Joyce

David Oliver Joyce

Weight: 60kg (Lightweight)

Club: St Michael’s Athy

Club coaches: Dominic O’Rourke

DOB: 12/02/1987

Club: AIBA Pro Boxing (APB)/St Michael’s Athy

Stance: Orthodox

Ranked No. 4 in APB in 2014

Qualified for Rio through European qualifiers Turkey 2016

Major International honours
2008 EU Elite Champion (Gold)
2009 EU Elite Champion (Gold)
2014 EU Elite Champion (Gold)
2014 Chemistry Cup (Gold)
2011 Chemistry Cup (Bronze)

Domestic Honours
Elite champion: 2005/06/07/08/14/15


Steven Donnelly (red) in action

Steven Donnelly

DOB: 07/09/1988

Weight: 69kg (Welterweight)


Club: All Saints, Ballymena

Club coaches: Gerry Hamill; Dermot Hamill

Stance: Orthodox

Ranked No.4 in World Series of Boxing 2015

Qualified for Rio through World Series of Boxing 2015

Major International Honours
2014 Commonwealth Games (Bronze)
2014 Chemistry cup (Bronze)

Domestic honours
2014 Elite champion
2010 Elite finalist


Michael O'Reilly

Michael O’Reilly

Weight: 75kg Middleweight

Date Of Birth: 30/03/1993

Height : 170cm

Club: Portlaoise

Club Coach: Pat Ryan

Stance; orthodox

AIBA World rank: No. 2

Qualified for Olympic through World qualifiers in Baku, Azerbaijan 2016

Major International honours

Baku Olympic Qualifiers 2016 (Gold)
2015 European Games (Gold)
2015 World Elite Championships (Bronze)
2014 European Union Championships (Silver)
2011 European Youth Championships (Silver)

Domestic honours
2015/2015/14 Elite champion (Irish Elite Championships were held twice in 2015)


Joe Ward

Joe Ward

Date Of Birth: 30/10/1993

Weight: 81kg (Light-heavyweight)

Club: AIBA Pro Boxing and the Moate BC, Westmeath

Club coaches: Eddie Bolger

Stance: Southpaw

AIBA World Rank: 3

Qualified for Rio through 2015 World Championships Doha

Major International Honours

2015 World Elite Championships (Silver)
2015 European Elite Championships (Gold)
2013 AIBA World Elite Championships (Bronze)
2011 European Elite Championships (Gold)
2010 AIBA World Youth Championships (Gold)
2009 AIBA World Junior Championships (Gold)
2008 European Junior Championships (Bronze)
2007 European Schoolboy Championships (Silver)

Domestic Honours
Elite champion 2011/12/13/14