Whelan and Connelly lead the way for Loughrea Boxers

At the Temperance Hall on Thursday (5/2/09) night, Loughrea Boxing Club's annual tournament turned up plenty of exciting fare for a full house that had braved the arctic conditions. Chief among the executors were locals, Conall Whelan and Matthew Connelly, acclaimed Local Boxer of the Night.
Whelan was the first of the two in the ring, facing Darragh Broder of Tobar Pheadair at Youth1:60kg. In the first round, Broder showed that he had great intentions pursuing the attack at every possible opportunity. However Whelan mounted a spirited defence, scoring well on the counter especially with one sweet straight right and a well executed uppercut. Broder made his stand in the second, but again Whelan showed a superb defence, "pivoting on a sixpence" to slip Broder's best efforts and constantly deflecting shots with his arms. The round finished with Whelan further ahead. The third was as tough as before, but Whelan was an obvious winner.
Connelly's fight had the crowd on its feet from the bell. For the first two rounds shot was met with shot, aggression with aggression, move with counter-move. His opponent Martin Ward (Ballinasloe, Y1:66kg) made most of his scores off his right, and on occasion caught Connelly in this high octane confrontation. In the final round Connelly used all his ring craft. He put some useful combinations together and stopped Ward in his tracks with one strong right. Such was the intensity that Ward shrugged it off, but he could not match Connelly in that final round. The crowd rose to both boxers, before Connelly was declared the winner.
That the future of the Loughrea club looks rosy was borne out as they put six Boy1s (11 years old) into the ring on the night. The first Boy1 contest was an all Loughrea affair, Sean Murray outpointing Tim McDonagh. Both boxers showed a good grasp of the rudiments of the sport for their age group. The other Loughrea debutants then racked up four wins on the trot. Ciaran O'Connor scored well with his left throughout his bout against Luke McDonnell (T/P).
Oisin McNally, son of former Irish Schoolboys' Champion, Eddie, took some time to warm up, but gradually marshalled his height advantage to finish a good winner over Sean Malone (West Clare). Mark Lawless gave a sound display that bodes well for the future in outscoring and outboxing Padraic Malone (W/C). Tomas Mongan completed a run of five straight victories for the home team in a tight decision over Padraic Malone (W/C).
Another close contest followed at B2:36kg, where Kenneth Cooney (L/rea) was caught by an opportunistic breach of his defence, which proved his undoing against Patrick Flynn (W/C). Another local boxer's, Tommy Donoghue (B2:42kg), failed to keep his defence tight at the crucial time, and suffered another point loss, this time to Sean McCormack (Kilfenora).
Cody Mulcair (Kilfenora) proved a stern opponent for Gavin Cooney (L/rea) at B3:46kg. He had a sturdy build and an aggressive stance, which made it difficult for Cooney to land his lead punches. Despite a sustained effort by Cooney, Mulcair ran out the winner. The referee stopped the next fight in favour of Caomhan Hernon (GBC) as his opponent Peter Whelan (L/rea B3:50kg) had a persistent nosebleed.
Alex Mulas (L/rea, B3:52kg) took control of the ring and his bout with Michael Ward (B/sloe) in the first round, establishing a commanding lead. He punched with speed and delivered one particularly punishing blow with a fine straight right. He was never in trouble after that.
Padraic Flanagan (L/rea, B4 48kg) went neck and neck all the way with John Ward (B/sloe) in a fast and furious contest. They were level on points at the finish. A countback then took effect, aggregating all the judge's individual's scores, and still they could not be separated. The almost unheard of reliance on a judge's vote gave the win to Ward, but only on a majority. No closer decision can be made in boxing.
Ted Mongan (L/rea, Y1:66kg) gave his usual value for money performance, but met a similarly committed opponent, Martin Ruane (Kilfenora), who came out just ahead in the scoring.
Ryan Dervan (Y1:57kg) in his usual fashion established control of his bout early on, mixing smooth movement, and also delivering punches from distance, while he denied Tommy Howard (W/C) any foothold by mixing it in close too. He was in control in the first, effectively had won by the second, and stymied all Howard's efforts to mount a comeback in the third.
At the end of the night Gavin Cooney was presented with the Arthur McGhee Clubman of the Year trophy.