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Stephen Donnelly and Ruairi Dalton on road to the Games

By David Kelly

Stephen Donnelly shook off the ring rust in emphatic fashion to retain the welterweight title at the Unite Ulster Elite championships in the Europa Hotel last night.

The 25-year-old All Saints boxer says he is on a mission for "redemption at the Commonwealth Games" and took his first step when he outclassed the game Conor Doherty of Holy Trinity.

Donnelly flew out of the blocks, peppering Doherty with his rapier blows and in the second round he bombarded his opponent with an array of punches, forcing him to take a count after a wicked left uppercut.

Nobody would have argued if Holy Trinity coach Michael Hawkins had pulled Doherty out but he bravely fought on with his face a bloody mess at the final bell. Donnelly was handed a unanimous decision, 30-24, 30-24, 30-26.

Donnelly said: "That's my first proper fight in 12 months and I felt the pace a bit in the third round, but overall I'm very pleased because I was always in control.

"I was really disappointed with my performance at the last Commonwealth Games so I'm on a mission to redeem myself in Glasgow and I believe I will."

Doherty's Holy Trinity clubmate Ruairi Dalton landed his second Ulster title when he gave a very smart boxing performance to defeat Sean Higginson of St John Bosco, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 in the flyweight decider.

Dalton has always been noted for his all-our aggression but last night he surprised everyone with his hit and move tactics.

Dalton said: "I'm so happy to win and now that should be me on the way to the Games. People never believed that I could box off the back foot but I knew that I had it in me and I did it.

"I've worked very hard to get this and I feel great. Now I'll go down and give the Irish championships a real go."

The light-flyweight final was a cagey affair as St Joseph's Derry southpaw Blaine Dobbins and TJ Waite of Cairn Lodge played cat and mouse.

Dobbins edged the opening round with the cleaner punching, though Waite did seem to take the second as he managed to find the range with his right hand.

However, in the final three minutes the more potent punches came from Dobbins, who deserved the 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 decision.

There was no need for the judges in the super-heavyweight final as Holy Trinity's Jason Barron knocked out 36-year-old Colin McCabe of Ligoniel in the opening round with a powerful right hook.

Holy Family's Michaela Walsh was the outstanding performer in the women's finals, defeating Nicole Meli of Immaculata on points over four rounds at flyweight, 40-32, 40-35, 40-35.

Belfast Telegraph


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