Paddy Gallagher brought an Irish Select to Grossetto in the Tuscany region to take on an Italian Select over two nights of huge entertainment. The temperatures were in the thirties during the day and come fight time, it was a cool 24°C/25°C for the evening face offs.
Out in Italy, two boxers can end up with a draw decision and big Danny O’Brien got that when he faced Jonathan Pisano in a battle of the super heavyweights. On the second night, the big Killarney man had his hand raised in victory as he landed some clean shots on his opponent to control the contest and get his first win on an International stage. This experience will have been of huge benefit to Danny as he hopes to represent Ireland later in the year in the Europeans.
Ned Collins faced the tough Moise D’Alfonso and despite a huge effort on night one, he was adjudged to have lost. They boxed a second time two nights later and Ned gave an exhibition of controlled aggression with top quality movement and punching to avenge the loss and have his hand raised in victory. He was the standout performer on the night!
Breda Quilligan boxed Giulia Massone on Friday night and despite a big effort from Massone, Quilligan dug deep to take the victory. They faced off again on Sunday night and this time Quilligan used her skills to control the bout from first to last bell.
Some lovely feinting and shot selection saw the Rathkeale girl take a well deserved decision. If she continues to box like this, she will be heading for the top of the podium on the European and World stage – class!
Cian O’Toole boxed former European Bronze medallist Gabriele Crabargiu on Friday night and he gave a good account of himself against a quality operator despite dropping the decision. On the Sunday night, O’Toole was much more relaxed and was more forceful with his shots and dominated the contest for large periods.
After three quality rounds by both boxers, Crabargiu was again declared the winner. Cian O’Toole can be very proud of this performance and his ability to listen to coaches instructions and carry them out was impressive. He has a big future in the game.
Oran Gethins boxed Leonardo Vincelli on Friday night and despite it being his first time to box three minute rounds, he showed total composure and top quality skills as he took the decision against a quality Italian opponent. Gethins’ movement was brilliant and his punches while moving were very impressive. On the Sunday night, these two warriors went back to battle and the final decision was a draw after another three pulsating rounds. Oran Gethins from the Sean McDermott B.C. can look back on his trip to Italy with renewed confidence in his ability and know he has the tools to be in the shake up for the Irish title in the upcoming U-18’s.
Davey O’Neill from Charleville B.C. took to the ring on Friday night against former European Champion Alessio Genovese. This didn’t faze the tall Cork man as he gave the Italian all he wanted over the three rounds. O’Neill was given a draw at the end and may feel hard done by after his performance. On Sunday night, he again got in to face Genovese but this time with renewed confidence knowing he matched a European Champion over three rounds. Davey used an excellent jab to keep his opponent at range and then picked him off as he came inside. Genovese was game and landed some good body shots but O’Neill was full of confidence and was starting to pick him off with uppercuts and hooks as he came forward. After three rounds, Genovese was declared the winner, much to the disappointment of O’Neill.
Mikey Keating stepped into the ring on Friday night against the durable Italian Alessandro Santin. Santin is a strong come forward boxer and Keating had to use his longer reach to keep him at distance for the duration of the contest. Santin has a great engine and continued to come forward despite the efforts of Keatings punches. After three tough rounds, the draw was the announced decision. On Sunday night, these two men went back at it and Santin took the decision after Keating tired as the contest wore on. Two tough bouts in a short space of time took their toll on the Waterford IT/St.Pauls boxer who hasn’t been in the ring since the IATBA final, but he’ll have taken some great learning from the trip.
Eamer Coughlan was next in the ring and he faced Rier Gabriel Garcia. This contest was all acrion from the first to the last bell with Coughlan taking no prisioners and ripping body shots into his opponent like there was no tomorrow. Garcia to his credit stayed in there and landed shots back throughout the bout, which had the crowd on the edge of their seats and in full voice. Big shots from both men were the order of the day and occasionally the referee gave both men some breathing time when cautioning for heads or shoulders being dropped too low. After three pulsating rounds, Garcia got the nod from the judges and Coughlan just smiled. After the bout, Coughlan had to see the doctor for an injury to his hand and the following day, he was placed in a cast for a fracture he received during the bout. On the Sunday night, Coughlan was presented with the best away boxer performance trophy, which eased some of the pain as he was desperate for the second contest on Sunday and hoped against hope that his hand was just badly bruised.
Patryk Adamus was next in the ring and the current IATBA champion from the National College of Ireland and Drimnagh B.C faced the experienced Italian International Halit Eryilmaz. This was a contest of pure skill by both boxers and it was like a chess match in that one man countered every move the other made while trying to make sure he left no openings. Adamus, the current 57KG Irish Elite Champion, showed great composure in punishing every punch that Eryilmaz threw that fell short or even hit the target. Throughout the rounds, Eryilmaz changed to southpaw and back to orthodox on many occasions but still got no change from the Irish boxer. Adamus landed some clever uppercuts coming off the shoulder roll and kept a lovely tight defence to stop most of the attacks. His in close work was excellent as was his feinting to set up his attacks and after three quality rounds, Adamus was declared the winner. Due to a ligament strain aggravated during the bout, he had to pull out of the Sunday night contest much to his disappointment, as he loves boxing in the warm climates, in outdoor arenas and he loves the task of pitting his skill against boxers who are at the very top level.
Martin Keenan boxed the Italian number two, Carlesimo Antonio, in the super- heavyweight class. This was a contest that kept everybody enthralled. Two big men willing to put their bodies on the line in order to claim victory. Keenan was up for this before it started and once the first bell went, he drew his opponent onto some very fast and hard shots which rocked back the head of the Italian. His feinting was quality and this set up most of his attacks. Martin switched to southpaw and landed some quality backhands straight down the middle and finished with lovely hooks. As the rounds wore on, Keenan landed crisp uppercuts also to show his repertoire of shots. Antonio kept plugging away and landed some good shots when Keenan backed on to the ropes but generally the big Rathkeale B.C man turned his opponent and started again from the centre of the ring. After three rounds, Keenan had his hand raised in victory.
Overall this was a hugely beneficial occasion for our boxers, as they got to test themselves against some of Europe’s top opponents.
The welcome our team received from Raffaele D’Amico and Amedeo Raffi was excellent. The location of our accommodation for this trip was beautiful – a country setting with on site restaurant and outdoor swimming pool for recovery and downtime. All our needs were catered for by Alessandro Salvadori who owns and operates the tourist farm.
The proximity to local beaches which were visited by the team on rest day, only added to the overall experience. A must for any holidaymakers going to the Tuscany region.
A huge thanks goes to coach Andy Kerins for all his efforts with the team and for his words of wisdom to the boxers when needed and for some excellent jokes to keep evèrybody laughing. A special mention also to our team captain Patryk Adamus and his compatriot Martin Keenan who showed the rest of the team how our Senior Elite Champions prepare, eat, rest, behave and lead by example.
Pictures and copy courtesy of Paddy Gallagher