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Northern Ireland's classy karate kids shine at World Championships

By Stuart McKinley karate

Published 24/06/2015

North stars: Karate coach Cathy McAleer with Sol Boyles, Christian Boyles, Lucy Ouldfield, Fergus McMullan and Effie Ellis O’Neil meet Maik Taylor, David Healy, Keith Gillespie and Michael O’Neill
North stars: Karate coach Cathy McAleer with Sol Boyles, Christian Boyles, Lucy Ouldfield, Fergus McMullan and Effie Ellis O’Neil meet Maik Taylor, David Healy, Keith Gillespie and Michael O’Neill

The Northern Ireland football team is hoping to be mixing it with the cream of Europe this time next year.

The country's young karate kids have already stolen a march on them by shining at the World Championships, coming home from Latvia with six medals, including a gold for Sol Boyles.

The medal winners then had their achievements acknowledged by three former Northern Ireland football stars and current manager Michael O'Neill, who is plotting a path to next summer's European Championship finals in France.

Sol, from east Belfast, went to Latvia as World Champion and successfully defended his title by taking gold in the under-16 boys category, before going on to win a silver medal in Kata.

There was a family double as Sol's younger brother Christian won a bronze in the under-13 section.

Fergus McMullan, who went to Latvia ranked fourth in his event, only missed out on a place in the semi-finals - and a guaranteed medal - due to a hotly disputed refereeing decision late in his quarter-final contest, when he had been in the lead.

The Northern Ireland girls also went home with a total of three medals.

Lucy Ouldfield was narrowly beaten in her final, but the silver lining was a medal and her new status as second in the world.

Her team-mate Effie Ellis O'Neil won two bronze medals, in Kata and Kumite.

Coach Cathy McAleer then took the medal winners to meet football stars Maik Taylor, David Healy, Keith Gillespie and O'Neill at a celebrity golf day which was held in aid of local charity JT Inspires, which was set up in memory of Jonathan Tate to benefit children with congenital heart disease.

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