TEAM NI: Boxers progress to contest Commonwealth Games gold medals

Northern Ireland's Michael Conlan celebrates beating Wales' Sean Mcgoldrick in the Men's Boxing Bantam
Northern Ireland's Michael Conlan celebrates beating Wales' Sean Mcgoldrick in the Men's Boxing Bantam

Four of Team NI’s boxing squad have decisively fought their way through the semi-finals to compete for Gold.

Michaela Walsh, Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes and Joe Fitzpatrick are through to the finals on Saturday.

Conlan is through to the men’s bantamweight final but needed treatment on a cut above his right eye. The London 2012 bronze medalist was ahead on the judges’ scorecards when blood started flowing from a gash sustained after an accidental clash of heads with defending champion Sean McGoldrick from Wales in round 2.

After initial treatment the cut opened up again and with 13 seconds remaining in the round, on advice from the ringside doctor, the fight was stopped and Conlan awarded the verdict.

“The cut isn’t as bad as we thought it was, a bit unfortunate that I was cut but it went to points and I got the decision. I thought I was boxing well up to the cut. I’m confident I’ll be fine for the final, I’ll pass the medical and there wouldn’t be a chance that I was going to miss the final. They’d have to cut my head off,” said the St John Bosco fighter.

“I’ve never been cut in my whole career and now it’s happened twice in the one tournament but that’s the way it goes. I’m getting better and better with every fight. I’ll box the way I normally box in the final and do the business.”

Walsh will meet Olympic champion Nicola Adams from England in the final of the women’s flyweight.

The 21 year-old from the Holy Family club in North Belfast won a split decision over India’s Pinki Jangra, easing to victory in the latter stages of the contest. “She was a tough fighter but I stuck to my tactics in the fight and came on strong in the later rounds. I’m delighted to get through and earn my place in the final.”

She added: “I’ve always said I’m only here for one medal and that’s gold. I believe I can beat anyone and I’m here to win. This is my first big tournament - it’s like my Olympics – and I hope to finish with a gold.”

On facing Adams, who defeated Mandy Bujold of Canada, with the winner to be crowned the first female champion in Commonwealth Games history, Walsh said: “Months ago I said my dream was to fight Nicola Adams in the Commonwealth final and when I go to bed tonight I will dream of that gold medal hanging round my neck. I know if I perform to the best of my ability I can beat her. She is the golden girl and I’m only a baby but in the ring it’s a different story.”

Light Flyweight Barnes was classy again as he easily saw off Uganda competitorFazil Juma Kaggwa over three rounds, while Fitzpatrick also impressed with an unanimous verdict against Michael Alexander in the Lightweight division.

Light-welterweight Sean Duffy and light heavyweight Sean McGlinchey both put up strong performances but came up a little short against quality opponents.

Duffy lost out a unanimous decision to Junias Jonas from Namibia but in his return to big time competition the 2008 silver medalist from the Commonwealth Youth Games was pleased with his efforts.

“He was a very tough opponent but on any other day it could have been my fight, today just wasn’t my day. It’s good to come away with a medal after all the weeks and months of preparations. There will be many more major tournaments coming up for me and this won’t be the last you’ll see of me,” said the 23 year-old from Armagh.

A very good New Zealander, David Nyika, beat McGlinchey. The tall Kiwi used his long reach to keep the Derry man at arms-length and picked him off on the counter.

“He was better on the day, there’s not much else to say. I tried everything I could, there’s nothing more I could say that I should have tried. I’ll look at the fight and then take things from there,” said McGlinchey.

“I’m amazed in what I’ve achieved. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get the gold, we all came here with those expectations but in my first year at Elite level I’ve won the bronze and this has given me the taste for it.”

Alanna Audley-Murphy also lost out in her semi-final to emerge with a bronze medal, losing to Australian Shelley Watts, while there were also defeats for Steven Ward and Connor Coyle.