Belfast Telegraph

Donnelly wants to cash in with Irish title glory

By David Kelly

There is more than just an Irish senior title on the line for Steven Donnelly tomorrow night.

Donnelly knows all about being hit by the recession and the 21-year-old Ballymena-man, who was forced to give up his apprentice electrician’s job, hopes to cash in with a win tonight.

Donnelly bids to land his first Irish senior title, having won three Ulster senior titles as well as five Irish junior titles.

“I was an apprentice spark, but the work dried up and I don't think that work is coming back so I'll have to look at a different path,” said Donnelly.

“Saturday night is a huge night for me because if I win then I get into the High Performance Unit and that means money.

“And I know that if I can get to the European and World level then you can get 20,000 or 40,000 euro a year. That's what I need, it would be ideal. Everybody who has gone to the High Performance has improved.

“I was on trips with Kenny Egan, John Joe Joyce and John Joe Nevin and I have watched them achieve at the highest level and I know that I can do the same.

“I want to go to the Olympics in London, that's the dream and this year there is the European Championships and the Commonwealth Games. So hopefully I can win the title on Saturday night — the same title that Dermot Hamill won four years ago. He was the first one from the club to win an Irish senior title.”

Donnelly is now trained by Dermot and head coach Gerry Hamill who struck Commonwealth Games gold in 1978.

It has been evident over the past year that Donnelly has added some much needed firepower to

his slick boxing skills and Gerry has been key to his development.

“I was always a good boxer, but now I'm banging a lot more, I'm punching very hard,” said Donnelly.

“I think the strength and conditioning has made a big difference.

“I've been down at the Glens doing roadwork, explosive lunges, working with the medicine ball. I'm 21 and I have now matured into the weight.

“I have had a lot more stoppages. I'm sure my opponents thought I would just be coming to box.”

Donnelly faces World Youth champion Ray Moylette, knowing it is not going to be easy.

“He likes to keep a tight guard and counter punch, but whatever tactics he brings I'll be ready,” he said.

“I have been working very hard with Gerry and Dermot in the gym.

“Gerry is a real inspiration, he's very funny as well so there's always a good atmosphere in the gym and that's very important.

“I know with Gerry I can't go wrong because he's been there and done it at the highest level.”

Tonight, Tommy McCarthy will bid to cause an upset by halting Kenny Egan’s bid for a record-equalling tenth Irish title, while there is an all-Ulster clash at featherweight between Donegal’s Tyrone McCullagh and Immaculata’s James Fryers.

Tonight’s finals:

Light-flyweight: Paddy Barnes (Holy Family Golden Gloves, Belfast) v Jimmy Moore (St Francis, Limerick).

Feather: Tyrone McCullough (Illies Golden Gloves, Buncrana) v James Fryers (Immaculata, Belfast).

Welter: Willie McLaughlin (Illies Golden Gloves, Buncrana) v John Joe Joyce (St Michael's, Athy).

Middle: Darren O'Neill (Paulstown, Kilkenny) v Jason Quigley (Finn Valley, Ballybofey).

Light-heavy: Kenny Egan (Neilstown, Dublin) v Tommy McCarthy (Oliver Plunkett, Belfast).

Heavy: Con Sheehan (Clonmel) v Alan Reynolds (Ballincarrow, Sligo).

Tomorrow’s finals:

Fly: Gary Molloy (Moate) v Conor Ahern (Baldoyle, Dublin).

Bantam: John Joe Nevin (Cavan) v Derek Thorpe (St Aidan's, Wexford).

Light: Eric Donovan (St Michael's, Athy) v David Oliver Joyce (St Michael's, Athy).

Light-welter: Ray Moylette (St Anne's, Westport) v Stephen Donnelly (All Saints, Ballymena).

Super-heavy: Cathal McMonagle (Holy Trinity, Belfast) v Tommy Sheahan (St Michael's, Athy).

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