County Championships sparkle with some Crackers
(Sports Section Connacht Tribune)

     The 2005/6 County Board championships were launched at the Boxing Gym, Westside on Sunday before a full house, who were treated to some tremendous bouts on a programme, which ran to more than thirty contests. Fifteen titles were decided on Sunday, as well as a number of semi and quarter finals. It is a sign of the strides made by the sport in the county that two more such sessions will be necessary to complete the entire programme. The honour of opening proceedings fell to Stephen Barrett of Olympic in the Quarter Final of the Boy 4:57kg class. He just had too much ring craft and power for his opponent, Edward Ward of Tobar Pheadair, and while Patrick J Ward of Tuam put up sterner resistance in the semi-final, Barrett's class enabled him to pile on the winning points in the final round of their encounter. Two wins for Barrett, but he must produce the goods again in the final to earn his ticket to the Connacht championships, where he could acquit himself well. A semi-final fit to grace the finals in any year came in the Youth 1: 52kg category between Jason McDonagh (Monivea) and Keith Flaherty (Connemara). The level at which this contest persisted was marked by the way in which the crowd alternated between bellowing excitement and silent assessment of the state of scoring between two magnificent and well-matched boxers. There was swift, economical movement; accurate, powerful, co-ordinated punching and courageous toe to toe exchanges. There was little between them and the whole gym could sense the balance of the scoring tip either way from moment to moment. Flaherty won it on the narrowest of margins, but McDonagh would have been a worthy champion, and will be again. Flaherty won the final well against Sean O'Malley of the Mike Flaherty Club. The packed gym also roared its approval to the Youth 1: 66kg Semi-Final between Anthony C Ward (Olympic) and Edward Mongan (B/sloe). The momentum in the first round swung from one boxer to the other, as they each stepped up to the plate, and it was only when Ward walked into a great straight right from Mongan in the second and took a count that the advantage moved decisively to the Ballinasloe fighter, who won 10-7. Mongan had another scorcher in the final, where he gave away a good reach advantage to Jake McNally of Loughrea. Again the second round proved decisive, but this time Mongan was at the wrong end of the pivotal scores. He launched his own counter in the third, and McNally had to dig deep to finish with one final attack that saw him a narrow winner. Another Loughrea man, Anthony Burke, and a Monivea boxer, Francis Kyne, (Youth 2: 60kg Final) had the crowd on their feet for sheer non-stop excitement from bell to bell. Neither was willing to give ground or take a breather and they took the ovation of the evening. Just a point separated them at the final bell, with the decision going to Kyne. In the Boy 4: 57kg Semi-Final between Alan McDonagh (GBC) and Sean O'Flatharta (Connemara) McDonagh appeared to be cruising to an easy win, his accurate left seeing him through, until the Connemara man started a grandstand finish with a big left, which stopped his opponent in his tracks. His comeback was only just short of the mark, as he reduced a large deficit down to two. The final at Youth 1: 63kg between John P Barrett (Olympic) and Cian Thornton (Furbo) began like a slowly loading crossbow, the lithe Barrett testing his combinations, while Thornton, a veteran of many campaigns now, stalked with his lethal left lead, throwing in the odd right lead to pepper his opponent. Tension built and both left hands snapped like lion tamer's whips. Barrett delivered some good lefts, but it was Thornton who struck with the heavier blows, some severe combinations, and he pulled away to win in the end. William Lawrence of Loughrea and Conor Byrne produced a fast, skilful contest, with Lawrence running out the Youth 2: 57kg champion on a better punching ratio and an ability to turn defensive situations into scoring positions. His fellow townsman, Patrick Mongan, took the Youth 1: 80kg crown, but made harder work of it than his reach allowed, only finally making the contest safe at the end against Mark Kelly (Connemara). Anthony Griffen (Connemara) delivered a lesson to his game opponent Declan Thornton (Furbo) in the Youth 2: 80kg class, as he consistently breached his defences with some controlled aggression to become county champion. Another Furbo boxer, Cormac Thornton, was unfortunate to come up against the experienced Michael F Ward of GBC, in the Junior: 69kgs class final, at the top of his form. Thornton gave a good account of himself in the first round, but was always going to have difficulty against the speed of limb and thought of Ward and his ability to string combinations of punches together. It was a fittingly skilful finale to an evening that had provoked and satisfied the audience with some sparkling boxing.
The championships continue on Tuesday (28th Feb) & Sunday (12th March at 1pm)
Results of FINALS: B4:60 Colm Keirigh (B/sloe) bt Padraic O'Grainne (Furbo); Y1:80 Pat Mongan (l/rea) bt Mark Kelly (C/mara); Y2:57 William Lawrence (L/rea) bt Conor Byrne (Furbo); Y2:60 Francis Kyne (Monivea) bt Anthony Burke (L/rea); Y2:70 Colin Lambe (M/vea) bt Brian Gannon (C/mara); Jun:64 John Mongan (Oly) bt Patrick C Ward (Tuam); B4:63 Ciaran O'Griofa (C/mara) bt Sean Concannon; Y1:52 Keith Flaherty (C/mara) bt Sean O'Malley (M/Flaherty); Y1:57 Patrick J Ward (Oly) bt Patrick J Ward (Tuam); Y1:60 Michael Mongan (Oly) bt Mark Jordan (Furbo); Y1:63 Cian Thornton (Furbo) bt John P Barrett (Oly); Y1:66 Jake McNally (L/rea) bt Edward Mongan (B/sloe); Y2:66 Owen C Ward (GBC) bt Michael Ward (GBC); Y2:80 Anthony Griffen (C/mara) bt Declan Thornton (Furbo); Jun:69 Michael F Ward (GBC) bt Cormac Thornton (Furbo).

Galway Youth Champions
(Loughrea Notes)

Four boxers from the Loughrea Boxing Club competed in the Galway Youths championships which were held in the Westside Boxing Hall last Sunday. Three won county titles in impressive style and will go forward to represent Galway at the Connacht championships in Westport next weekend. Jake McNally at Y1 66Kg, Pat Mongan at Y1 80Kg and William Lawrence at Y2 57Kg are the new county champions. Anthony Burke, who hails from Tynagh, was undoubtedly the unluckiest loser on the day. Having only his second contest, Anthony was ahead until the last ten seconds, when he conceded the winning point. He was boxing the much more experienced Francic Kyne from Monivea, which proved to be the telling factor in the end. Jason Ward from the Loughrea will also box in the Connacht championships having received a walkover