Ceire Smith and Gary McKenna lost out in their bids to join Christina Desmond and Kenny Okungbowa in the semi-finals of the 7th World University Championships in Thailand this morning.
The Irish pair dropped verdicts to France’s Wassila Lkhadiri and Temirian Osmonov of Kyrgyzstan in the 51kg and 60kg classes at Mai Chaing University.
Smith, aiming for a semi-final meeting with Japan’s Sano Kawano, lost to Lkhadiri in the flyweight category over four, two minute rounds.
The multiple Irish Elite champion held her composure in the face of Lkhadiri’s constant aggression in the first two frames of today’s encounter, finding the target with well-timed combinations, but eventually bowed out on a split.
McKenna was involved in a high-tempo duel with Osmonov over three, three minute rounds in the lightweight class. The evasive Kyrgyz connected with some slick shots throughout, while McKenna’s constantly took the fight to his opponent and detonated some big punches off both hands going down the final stretch of a see-saw encounter.
Desmond and Okungbowa will now carry the flag for the Irish Athletic Third-Level Boxing Association into Thursday’s semi-finals.
Both athletes are guaranteed at least bronze at the tournament, Ireland’s first medals at this level since the inaugural World University Championships in 2004.
“Ceire was disappointed with how she boxed as she knows she has more class and quality than she showed on the day. Some days it just doesn’t happen!,” said Irish coach Paddy Gallagher.
“Gary felt he did enough in the first and the third. The scores in the end gave the first round against him and gave the last to him and the second to the Kyrgyzstan boxer. I felt he shaded the first, lost the second and the third was down to what the judges wanted to see.
“The Kyrgyzstan boxer was clever in his movement and is deceptively clever in what he does. Both Irish boxers left the ring intact and healthy and will fight another day.”
Irish team manager Paul Geoghegan hailed the performances of both boxers.
He said: “Ceire and Gary gave it everything they had, but it just wasn’t their day. They can both be very proud of their efforts as I am of them. Let’s hope that the Irish fortunes change for the rest of the week.”
Thursday’s semi-finals begin at 8am (Irish time).
Pictures: Smith and McKenna and opponents in today’s quarter-finals.
7th World University Championships Thailand, October 3/8
75kg: Conor Wallace Ireland) lost to Valerii Kharlamov (Ukraine) TKOI3
75kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) beat Zura Kussainova (Kazakhstan) 3-0
91kg Ken Okungbowa (Ireland) beat Tadas Tamasuskas (Lithuania) 2-1
51kg Ceire Smith (Ireland) lost to Wassila Lkhadiri (France) 1-2
60kg Gary McKenna (Ireland) lost to Temirian Osmonov (Kyrgyzstan) 0-3
75kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) v Natalia Hollinska (Poland)
91kg Ken Okungbowa (Ireland) v Dylan Bregeon (France)
51kg Ceire Smith – Cavan BC & DCU
60kg Gary McKenna – Old School BC Monaghan & University of Ulster
75kg Christina Desmond – Fr Horgans BC & LIT (Bronze, at least)
75kg Conor Wallace – St Monica’s Newry & University of Ulster
91kg Kenneth Okungbowa – Athlone BC & AIT (Bronze, at least)
Team manager: Paul Geoghegan
Coach: Paddy Gallagher