TEAM NI: Northern Ireland fighters set new Commonwealth record

Northern Ireland's Paddy Barnes (left) in action against Papua New Guinea's Charles Keama
Northern Ireland's Paddy Barnes (left) in action against Papua New Guinea's Charles Keama

Northern Ireland’s boxers will bring home an astonishing haul of nine medals from the Commonwealth Games after they added six more on Wednesday to the three won on Tuesday.

The previous record for one Games was six in Edinburgh in 1986 when a number of African countries boycotted the event.

With 11 total medals now guaranteed, it also exceeds the 10 won in Delhi four years ago.

What colour those medals will be is still to be determined with the semi-finals to come on Friday.

After the quarter-final successes of Sean Duffy, Joe Fitzpatrick and Sean McGlinchy on Tuesday it was Olympic bronze medalist Michael Conlan who led the way on Wednesday after he beat Uganda’s Bashir Nasir at bantamweight.

The 22-year-old will now fight Wales’ Sean McGoldrick in the semi-finals.

“I’m not thinking about the bronze medal, gold is the only one I want. I have a bronze medal from London, I don’t want another one,” he said.

“I won my fight today and I’m happy enough but it was only a quarter of what I can perform. I can fight better than that.”

“A win is a win at the end of the day. With not even half a performance I can get a win, especially against a low quality opponent it’s hard to even get motivated for it. If you can win when you’re not at your best it’s a good sign.”

Looking ahead to Friday’s bout Conlan added: “Sean McGoldrick from Wales is the reigning champion, so I’m looking forward to meeting him in the semi-finals.

“I sparred with him a few years ago. Come Friday I think I’ll win, I have that confidence inside me and that self-belief.”

Next into the ring were the two female fighters – and both Michaela Walsh and Alanna Audley-Murphy didn’t disappoint.

Walsh, who was the first-ever female to compete at the Commonwealth Games this week, beat Jamaica’s Joy Sarah Rae in the women’s flyweight quarter finals, winning by unanimous decision.

She will face India’s Pinki Rani in the semi-finals and is one fight away from a possible shot at the Olympic champion Nicola Adams.

“The first round I started off very slow. I couldn’t get my punches off against her but I changed my tactics and I just listened to my coaches who told me what to do and by the fourth round any punch I was throwing I was catching her with it,” said Walsh.

“People ask me about Adams but that’s not until the final. I’m a big fan of Nicola and I’ve followed her throughout her career. I’m going for one colour and one colour only.”

In her first fight of the Games after receiving a bye, Audley-Murphy defeated Dominica’s Valerian Spicer on a split decision in the lightweight division.

Guaranteed at least a bronze, she’ll take on Australia’s Shelley Watts next.

“I felt nervous. I got into it and when I knew I was down I had to dig deep. At the end of the day I got the win and that’s the most important thing,” she said.

“To be on that stage and perform in front of your home nation, there’s no better feeling. Me and Michaela are history makers and you can’t take that away from us. It’s something to tell the kids and grandkids.”

Double Olympic bronze medallist and team captain Paddy Barnes blazed into the last four by thoroughly outclassing Charles Keama of Papua New Guinea.

A succession of swift hooks forced Keama to take two standing counts in round two and two more big shots in the third left the Papuan flailing and handed Barnes his second straight stoppage win of the competition.

As well as being pleased at his own performance Barnes also backed Walsh to give Adams a run for the gold should they meet in the final.

“What you’ve seen from Michaela is just a fraction of what she can do. She spars with me and she gives me lots of trouble. You heard it from me first – if they fight in the final, I’m telling you she’ll beat Nicola Adams.”

On his own fight and whether it went to plan Barnes commented: “Sometimes I rushed it a bit much but it was good. Bronze medals are only a token of appreciation for entering the competition. All it means it that you took part in something. Unless you get the gold its not worth talking about.”

The success kept rolling when Steven Donnelly entered the ring and beat Caustio Clayton from Canada at welterweight.

“He was a high-quality opponent. He was the favourite and I was treating that as my final, but that doesn’t mean that the rest will be easy. He was world number eight so my confidence has definitely gone up,” said the 25 year-old from Ballymena.”

The last of the 10 quarter-finalists to enter the fray was middleweight Connor Coyle who wasn’t going to be outdone by what had gone before as he also won a unanimous decision over South African Siphiwe Lusizi.

“It’s a magnificent feeling to win a medal and gives you much more adrenaline. It’s unbelievable but I’m nowhere near as good as I can perform yet.”