Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland boxers are the Cubans of the Commonwealth Games

By Claire Williamson

Northern Ireland are the Cuba of the Commonwealth Games. The Cubans were renowned for their boxing prowess around the world, but now Team NI's boxers have taken this competition by storm, with nine of our fighters guaranteed at least a bronze medal.

And it wasn't just the boys who had their eyes firmly fixed on medals, as the girls stormed to victory – making history along the way. Yesterday afternoon two of our women, along with Olympic bronze medallist Michael Conlan, punched their way through to the semi-finals.

Michaela Walsh (21) secured her place in boxing history on Monday when she beat Thessa Dumas from Mauritius in the Games' first-ever female bout.

Her winning streak continued yesterday, as did that of Belfast's Alanna Audley-Murphy, who beat Valerian Spicer in the women's lightweight quarter-final.

The wins kept coming after more success on Tuesday when Immaculata's Joe Fitzpatrick beat Kenya's Nicholas Okongo Okoth, Derry's Sean McGlinchy defeated Kenyan Eklly Ajowi Ochola, and Armagh's Sean Duffy sealed a night of triumph.

Last night Northern Ireland held its breath as double Olympic medallist and defending Commonwealth fighter Paddy Barnes, Ballymena's Steven Donnelly and Londonderry man Connor Coyle took to the ring – but all three soared through to the next round, taking the Northern Ireland boxing medal haul to nine.

Fight legend Gerry Storey, who trains Michaela, said Northern Ireland was proud of its boxing pedigree. "We're pretty good at it and we are pretty proud of that, but it's not just kids joining the boxing club and starting to train, it's the discipline within it. It's 100% effort all the time, every day with them.

"They are not going in just to take part – they are going in to win and come back with results."

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said: "This is a truly remarkable achievement by the boxers. We sent a team of 11 to the Commonwealth Games and nine of them will return home with medals. I congratulate these boxers on their Herculean efforts and offer best wishes for their next contests.

"They have maintained our magnificent boxing tradition at the Commonwealth Games and I commend all those who have played a role in helping to deliver such achievement."

Alanna Audley-Murphy

The Belfast woman secured her medal after last night’s lightweight quarter-final win over Dominica's Valerian Spicer. Former World Championship quarter-finalist Alanna (28) made history when she stepped into the ring in the National Stadium in 2001 with future golden girl Katie Taylor, and they became the first two females to clash in the famous old stadium.

Michael Conlan

World ranked number two and Olympic bronze medallist. Last night was his second fight of the Games and he finished ahead for all three judges in the bantamweight contest.

Michaela Walsh

Beat Thessa Dumas from Mauritius in the Games' first-ever female bout on Monday. Yesterday she beat Jamaica's Sarah Joy Rae in the Women's flyweight quarter- final.

Sean Duffy

The 23-year-old from Armagh defeated Malaysia's Khir Akyazlan Azmi in the light welter-weight quarter-finals on Tuesday night.

Sean McGlinchy

The 22-year-old Derry boxer landed the third local medal place on Tuesday night, after defeating Kenyan Elly Ajowi Ochola in the light-heavyweight quarter-final.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Beat Kenya's Nicholas Okongo Okoth on Tuesday after a unanimous verdict in his lightweight quarter-final, despite having received a bloody wound under his left eye.

Connor Coyle

The Londonderry man completed last night’s spectacular successes with a middleweight win over South Africa's Siphiwe Lusizi, taking Team NI’s boxing medal tally to nine.

Steven Donnelly

Found himself up against a tough C anadian opponent in the form of Custio Clayton during their welterweight clash last night. But he powered through, winning all three rounds.

Paddy Barnes

Double Olympic medallist and d efending Commonwealth champion, he defeated Charles Keama from Papua New Guinea in t heir light-flyweight quarter-final last night.

Belfast Telegraph

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