Boxing: Belfast will give warm welcome to American Olympic team
Ulster president Pat McCrory believes the American Olympic team for the 2012 Games in London will be based in Belfast.
McCrory, recently appointed as secretary of the referees and judges for the world governing body of amateur boxing AIBA, revealed that he has already been in contact with the Americans.
The US team at the World Championships in 2001 when staged at the Odyssey Arena were delighted with the hospitality and that would seem to be a factor in the likelihood of the Americans being based here before the Games kick off.
While it may seem some way off, preparations for Olympic camps start early and McCrory has been very pleased with the interest shown in Belfast and he wants a boxing facility to meet their requirements - paid for by a slice of the £50m promised by government for Northern Ireland ahead of the 2012 Games.
"The Americans have already been in touch with me and I don't see why they can't be based here. They enjoyed themselves so much the last time in 2001 and they are keen to be here. It's ideal for them," said McCrory.
"Apart from the Americans I have also had contact from the Canadian boxing team as well as the Hungarians, so it shows the interest there is in Belfast.
"But if these teams are to come we want to make sure that we have the right facilities for them. And we would hope to get a good slice of the £50m on offer for sport in order to build a boxing complex and we are already looking at part of the Valley Leisure Centre.
"We would need a place which could hold two rings and in which you could hold internationals and competitions, so that's the target for us in 2007.
"The sport needs a specific place for training, so we are no longer relying on clubs to provide their facilities."
Meanwhile, the Smithwick's Ulster Senior championships start on Wednesday night in the Dockers Club with the quarter-finals of the featherweights and welterweights. Then on Friday night at the same venue there will be nine semi-finals, one of which will feature the highly rated Anthony Cacace, who recently landed the Ulster Intermediate title at the first attempt. Lightweight Cacace will take on Paul Barbour of Omagh for a place in the final against the winner of the meeting between Derry's Kevin Doherty and Mark Morris of Gleann. Finals night for seniors is January 9 at the Ulster Hall.
57Kg: Patrick McGarrity (H.Trinity) v Steven Donnelly (All Saints); John Braniff (Holy Trinity) v John Cooley (St. Joseph's); Mark Ginley (O. Plunkett) v Eamon Finnegan (O. Plunkett)
69kg: Niall Diamond (All Saints) v Shane McKeown (S. Heart, Newry).
Friday semi-finals (8.00pm)
57Kg: Barry McCafferty (S.J.B. Belfast) v Winner No.1; Winner No.2 v Winner No.3
60Kg: Kevin Doherty (Ring, Derry) v Mark Morris (Gleann); Anthony Cacace (O. Plunkett) v Paul Barbour (Omagh B.C.)
64Kg: Martin Tully (H. Trinity) v Niall McGinley (Bishop Kelly)
69Kg: David Nevin (Cavan) v William McLaughlin (Illies G.G); Thomas Duddy (Ring, Derry) v Winner No.4
81Kg: Damien O'Hagan (Bishop Kelly) v Ryan Green (Dockers)
91Kg: Damien Ramsey (Ligoniel) v John Sweeney (Dungloe)
Finals Thursday January 11 (7.45pm).
48Kg: Ciaran O'Neill (Dromore) v Patrick Barnes (Holy Family)
51Kg: Michael Kelly (Immaculata) v Jamie Conlan (S.J.B. Belfast)
54Kg: Marc McCullough (Cairnlodge) v Ryan Lindberg (Immaculata)
64Kg: Dermot Hamill (All Saints) v WINNER No. 9
75Kg: Thomas J. Hamill (All Saints) v Eamon O'Kane (Immaculata)
81Kg: Stephen Martin (SJB. Belfast) Vs WINNER No. 12
91Kg: Finbar Doran (Phoenix) v WINNER No. 13
91+Kg: Cathal McMonagle (Holy Trinity) WALKOVER.