Northern Irish boxers exude confidence in Birmingham

Danny Boy could play for a loop at the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham after Northern Ireland’s SIX boxers advanced to their respective Commonwealth Games finals.

arly McNaul, Dylan Eagleson, Amy Broadhurst, Aidan Walsh, Jude Gallagher and Michaela Walsh will all be battling it out for gold and unlike four years ago on the Gold Coast where six decision makers were lost you can be sure some stars of the NI team will be on the top step of the podium in 2022.

In 2010, at the Delhi Games, Northern Ireland won three gold medals in boxing. Expect that and more this time around with conviction seeping through the camp allied to the shrewd tactics of John Conlan, Damien Kennedy and the rest of the coaching staff. It looks like a winning combination.

Eagleson benefited from both. The Bangor boy jumped for joy inside the ring yesterday when a split decision in his favor was announced.

The 19-year-old southpaw smiled as he walked into the interview area where he wanted everyone to know the best is yet to come.

The bantamweight semi-final with Scotsman Matthew McHale was suspicious at first before Eagleson’s class narrative as he found his opponent with eye-catching shots giving him a 3-2 verdict from the judges following a a more comfortable victory in the quarter-finals. on Armando Sigauque from Mozambique.

Next in today’s final is Ghana’s Abraham Mensah who, if previous competitions are any guide, is going to swing again and again. Eagleson has to miss it and then pull it out.

It was a year of progression for the Northern Irish teenager who won bronze at the European Under-22 Championships and silver at the European Championships. You know what’s next at the Commonwealth Games. The same goes for Dylan, whose skills have impressed boxing fans in Birmingham.

“I’m only here for the gold. I don’t want anything else to be honest,” he said.

“My first fight was scrappy and I had to be resilient, but in the semis I felt a lot better and I stuck with my boxing. There is more to come. It will be a better performance in the final. I get better with every fight.

Eagleson’s phone has been going crazy with messages all week. He will have many more if he gives birth today.

His compatriot Jude Gallagher has also proved popular this week. Many boxing aficionados were hoping to see the 20-year-old ‘Tyrone Tornado’ last night following stunning performances at the Games, but 15 minutes before his fight word got around to this Canadian semi-final opponent Keoma-Ali Al-Ahmadoeh had retired, leaving Gallagher the winner by upset.

The Newtownstewart man takes on Joseph Commey of Ghana in the featherweight final.

Then there are the wonderful Walsh siblings. For Michaela, she will be battling in her third Commonwealth Games final tonight after being runners-up in 2014 and 2018 and Aidan will be in his second after a silver four years ago.

Michaela was far too good for South Africa’s Philwokuhle Mnguni in her half-feather and will now battle with Nigeria’s Elizabeth Oshoba in the final while Aidan beat Welshman Garan Croft and has Mozambique’s Tiago Muxanga to face today. today in the light middleweight gold medal fight.

Away from it all, Walsh loves nothing more than spending time with his girlfriend, eating Chinese and drinking a Coke in his trailer in Carnlough. Oh, and fishing and kayaking too.

He is as easygoing as he is difficult to touch. They look for him here, they look for him there, they look for him absolutely everywhere but they never find him. After losing 4-1 in the minds of the judges – it should have been 5-0 – Croft explained how smart Walsh was and that he probably felt as “fresh as a daisy”.

A Gold Coast silver medalist, always graceful and with an admirable outlook on life, Walsh said, “I just want to enjoy every minute. I have great people around me, great coaches, great girlfriend, great family, so what more do you want? I would be greedy if I asked for anything else.

“It doesn’t matter if I get gold or not, I’ll always go home to my girlfriend, fish and enjoy life. It won’t change me. I’ll just do normal things like buy a new pair of shoes.

Michaela watched her brother’s fight on TV before coming to the NEC to do the business herself.

“I was screaming from the bedroom. I’m sure there were a few noise complaints. He performed so well and I’m so proud of him and my teammates,” she said.

“It’s amazing for both of us to be in the final again, especially Aidan who had the toughest draw of all. He’s got one more to go but whatever result we’re at now it’s a phenomenal feat.

“I don’t want to look too far ahead, but winning gold has been something I’ve dreamed of for many years and if I did it with my brother it would be amazing.”