Commonwealth Games: Ruairi Dalton sparkles as our ring champions roll on
Medals on the horizon for classy quartet
The Northern Ireland boxers are packing a real punch in Glasgow with Ruairi Dalton, Joe Fitzpatrick, Sean Duffy and Sean McGlinchey all now just one victory away from a Commonwealth Games medal after victories last night.
In Delhi four years ago, Northern Ireland were the top team in the boxing ring and it is a feat likely to be repeated in 2014 as the hits keep coming.
After three days of boxing competition, Team NI's stunning record reads WINS NINE, LOSSES ONE, and that defeat was by a split decision with the unfortunate Steven Ward losing out yesterday afternoon.
Last night Belfast flyweight Dalton led the charge into the quarter-finals, defeating Tanzania's Ezra Paul Mwanjwango by unanimous decision.
Dalton, a clever fighter with quick feet around the ring, is scheduled to fight Australia's Andrew Moloney tomorrow for a semi-final spot.
"Winning the last 16 fight has given me a lot of confidence. It's another step closer to a gold medal and I'm certainly in it to win it," said Dalton.
"Over here you don't get much of a break, you are fighting every two days but nothing is easy. I'm happy with my performance, I tired a wee bit at the end but I stuck to the plan.
"Everyone is trying to keep the momentum going and for such a small country we are doing really well."
Ain't that the truth.
Fitzpatrick, in his first contest in the Games, overcame Lesotho's Qhobosheane Mohlerepe in the lightweight division after a split decision.
"I was a bit rusty. I got a bye in the first round so I was hanging around for a few days just itching to get in the ring. It's brilliant to be in the final eight of the Commonwealth Games and I can't wait to get going again," said Fitzpatrick.
The 19-year-old is the youngest in the boxing team, but admits that age doesn't bother him.
He says: "I might only be 19 but George Best was younger than that when he played in front of big crowds so it's no big deal. It can only get better."
Light-welterweight Duffy was also victorious over Tanzania's Gaudence Fabiani Pius.
"That was a hard one," he admitted afterwards.
"The first fight you have to get used to the surroundings and used to the crowd, it takes a lot out of you. We had to focus on the job and luckily it is onwards and upwards."
McGlinchey, fighting at light heavyweight, defeated Jamaica's Cheavan Clarke by split decision.
McGlinchey said: "After round one, the coaches had to wake me up a bit and say get your boxing shoes on but afterwards I came out and showed heart and true sportsmanship."
While that fab four slept well, Delhi silver medallist Steven Ward was left devastated after losing on a split decision to England's Warren Baister in a heavyweight clash in every sense.
"I'm just gutted. It was a tough fight and I felt it could have gone either way but I've no one to blame but myself," said Ward.
Ward stated he was "disappointed" he have landed Baister, the highest ranked boxer in the tournament, in the open draw.
"This is the first year there's been no seeding and he was No.1 in the rankings and I'm No.2 so this should have been a fight for the final, not the first round.
"It's the fight that everyone wanted to see in the final."