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Donnelly eager for history as finals return to the Ulster Hall

 

By David Kelly

Northern Ireland's top boxers will look to show their potential for success at the Commonwealth Games next year when they take to the Ulster Hall stage tonight.

For the first time in almost a decade, the Ulster championship finals are returning to their natural home, thanks to the ambition of those who have recently taken over at the top of the sport - president Kevin Duffy, vice president Ben McGarrigle and secretary Charlie Toland.

For one man the stage could hardly be more appropriate as Steven Donnelly will be bidding to make history by winning an Ulster title at a fourth different weight. Donnelly, a bronze medallist at welterweight four years ago at the Commonwealth Games in India, meets defending champion Fearghus Quinn of Camlough and starts as a clear favourite.

"To win titles at four different weights would be a very special moment and to do it in the Ulster Hall would be great," said 29-year-old Donnelly of the All Saints Club.

"I hadn't boxed since the Europeans in the summer so I was bit concerned that could have an effect but I did a good job."

One of the most intriguing finals is at lightweight when young James McGivern of St George's takes on the more experienced Sean Duffy of Holy Trinity in an all-Belfast cllash.

Duffy, also a bronze medallist from the 2014 Games, knows he is in for a tough night against sharp shooting McGivern who has the footwork and hand speed to make life awkward for the Holy Trinity man.

A 2015 Commonwealth Youth gold medallist, McGivern is hoping to prove that he deserves to be on the plane to the Gold Coast. McGivern said: "I'm pretty confident in saying that no one has won the Youth Games and then gone on to win the senior Games. So, if I was the first or even one of the boys to do it, that would be massive."

The welterweight decider should also be an entertaining duel with two 2015 Commonwealth Games medallists facing off.

Aidan Walsh of Monkstown has so far looked the pick of the 69kg division so he will start favourite against Brett McGinty, a silver medallist at the Youth Games two years ago.

Walsh, a gold medallist at light-welterweight, should make good use of his height and reach to lift the title.

Talented European Games bronze medallist, Sean McComb meets Gleann's Caoimhin Ferguson in another all-Belfast duel at light-welterweight.

McComb of Holy Trinity, is expected to take the trophy home and rubber stamp his place on the games team, though Ferguson will give it everything.

Another man expected to stroll to victory is flyweight Brendan Irvine.

The Rio Olympian should be far too slick for Clonard's Conor Quinn.

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