Steven Donnelly comes out on top after spiteful duel with Hynes
The bad blood lasted long after the final bell following Steven Donnelly's pulsating victory over Caoimhin Hynes in their middleweight semi-final at the Ulster Elite championships last night.
Donnelly, of the All Saints Club in Ballymena, marched into this Friday night's final after four judges scored the spiteful bout in his favour with one having it even.
Hynes exploded from his corner at the sound of the opening bell but found himself rapped by three sharp right hands from the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist.
Donnelly was picking his shots very smartly as the Holy Trinity man brought a relentless intensity to the ring and he was clearly warming to the task as the round came to a close.
Donnelly fired home some fine counters at the start of the second round, slipping the hooks of Hynes whose frustration spilled over when he aimed a headbutt in the Ballymena man's direction. That, rightly, brought a point deduction from referee Malachy Scott.
That wasn't the end of his punishment as, when he returned to his corner, experienced coach Michael Hawkins read him the riot act for his ill-discipline.
Hynes once more tried to walk down Donnelly and managed to draw his more experienced opponent into some tasty close quarter exchanges right up to the final bell.
Words were then exchanged between the two and even when Donnelly's hand was about to be raised in triumph the verbals continued.
"He's a young guy, he played into my hands. I hadn't boxed since the European championships in the summer and that was my only worry going into the fight but I was sharp right from the start," said Donnelly.
"When I boxed the way I can I was catching quite comfortably. I felt good in there."
Donnelly will now face Fergus Quinn of Camlough in the decider after he outworked Emerald's Conor Docherty to win on points in the other last four clash.
Sean Duffy, a Holy Trinity clubmate of Hynes, barnstormed his way into the lightweight final with a unanimous decision over Stephen McKenna of Monaghan's Old School club.
Duffy made an instant impact when inside the first minute he uncorked a left hook that had McKenna on the floor.
The slender Monaghan lad then walked into a hail of blows and was given a standing count by referee Michael McDermott. As the round drew to a close it would have been no surprise if McDermott had called a halt to the contest such was Duffy's onslaught.
However, McKenna demonstrated admirable guts as he worked hard to gain a foothold despite walking into further hard blows to body and head.
The pattern continued in the third round with McKenna trying in vain to keep Duffy at bay.
Duffy can expect a more severe test in Friday's final when he faces James McGivern of St George's.
McGivern won the battle of the southpaws with Dylan Duffy of Pegasus as he put his tidy footwork to good use, peppering his opponent with clean, eye-catching blows to take a unanimous verdict.
Aidan Walsh of Monkstown was a very impressive winner of his welterweight semi-final with Gerard French of Clonard.
French drove forward throughout the three rounds but was often picked off by the long arms of Walsh who cleverly set himself to land clinical blows.
Walsh will now meet Brett McGinty of Oakleaf whose opponent Nathan Watson of Saints had to retire at the end of the second round due to an elbow injury.
Caoimhin Ferguson also sparkled as he outpointed Bernaldo Marmine of Holy Trinity in their light-welterweight last four clash.