The main boxing event of the third level boxing calendar was held in the National Boxing Stadium, Dublin on Friday 10th, Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th February, 2012. The IATBA held their National Championships in the home of Irish boxing. The best student boxers from around the country assembled representing their third level institutions.
The proceedings got underway on Friday after a 12pm-1pm weigh-in and nine quarter final bouts were down for decision in the Novice division. DIT took the first two wins of the Championships with Michael Thomas and the impressive Niall Barrett looking good value for their wins. Ciaran Finnegan took the first win in the 67KG division with a points victory over Brian Fitzsimons (Blanchardstown IT), despite a strong last round from Fitzsimons. DIT then suffered their first defeat of the Championships when Conor Egan was defeated by a very strong Jamie Griffin (NUI Maynooth). Michael Murphy (NUI Galway) also won in the 71KG division, getting the better of Conor Keane (Tralee IT). Thomas Farrelly (Carlow IT) laid down a marker in the 71KG division when he forced the stoppage of Aaron Maguire (UCC) in the second round of their contest. In the first of the 75KG quarter finals, Richard Quinn (IT Tallaght) came out on top in a tough contest with Jamie O’Keeffe (UCC). Quinn had a strong opening round and this was the difference in terms of points scored between both men. In the next 75KG contest, Cian Dennehy (Cork IT) came out on top, in the all Munster battle, with Daniel Breen (Tralee IT). In the last bout of the quarter finals, Adam Bruton (DIT) proved a little too clever for Joshua Aribasoye (Tralee IT) but the Tralee IT man battled well right up to the final bell.
Saturday was semi-finals day, and the pressure increased further as places in the finals were at stake. Mark Teahan (Dundalk IT) was the first to book a place in the final when he dispatched of Sean Kimmage’s (DIT) chances. Niall Barrett joined him in the final when he received a walk over as his opponent failed to make his weight at the weigh-in that morning. In the 64KG semi-final, Christopher Thomas (Tralee IT) edged out Fionnbarr Thompson (UL) in the closest contest of the Championships thus far. The final score was 10-8 and when the score was called out at the end of the bout, both boxers lived in hope for a short while before Thomas was declared the winner. Tommy Quinn (Carlow IT) got the better of Nigel Walsh (NUIG) in the first 67KG semi while Jake Hassett (Cork IT) forced the referee to count out Ciaran Finnegan (UCC) in the second round after landing two big shots to the head in the second of the 67KG semis. Jamie Griffin (NUI Maynooth) was the first boxer to win by the dreaded countback against Peter McCabe (UL). The score was 10-10 at the end of the contest and Griffin won by the slenderest of margins when coming out on top by 8-7 in registered hits. Michael Murphy (NUI Galway) was in the other semi-final against the impressive Thomas Farrelly (Carlow IT), with Murphy winning the battle of the big hitters on a 12-7 score line. This was probably the closest contested division in the entire Championships with very little between all the semi-finalists. In the Novice 75KG division, Richard Quinn (IT Tallaght) came out on top of a hard hitting contest with Kyle Preston Kelly (NUI Galway). He would go on to meet Cian Dennehy (Cork IT) in the final after Dennehy won a close contest with Adam Bruton (DIT) on a 7-5 score line. In the 81KG division, David Brady (Tralee IT) completed business in quick fashion when overpowering Graham McCarthy (Cork IT) in the first round, forcing the referee to call a halt to proceedings. He would go on to meet Ciarán Daly (Cork IT) in the final after Daly came out the convincing winner in the second semi-final against Philip Keating (Blanchardstown IT).
The action then moved to the Intermediate boxers and into the 64KG class where David Martin (NUI Galway) took the short route to the final when forcing the referee to step in and stop his contest with Jason Donegan (Cork IT) in the second round. In the 71KG division, Darragh Finn (LIT Tipp Campus) had too much for David Lewis (UL) when taking the contest 11-3. Mark Clarke (IT Tallaght) booked his place in the 91+KG final after beating Mairtín Conneely (NUI Galway) 15-3. The action moved swiftly into the senior class and the eagerly awaited 64KG class where Sean McDermotts, Manorhamilton clubmates Gearoid Mac a Bhaird (Sligo IT) and James McDowell (UL) were paired. This was exhibition boxing by McDowell and he was serving notice to David Parnell, who would meet the winner in the final, after convincingly coming out victorius in this semi-final on a 9-2 score line. The 69KG division also threw up an eagerly awaited contest. This was between Keith Gallagher (Sligo IT) and Martin Wall (DIT). Wall had only one month earlier defeated the current European Senior Champion and former World Youth Champion, Ray Moylette in the National Elite Championships. Gallagher though started the stronger and hit Wall with some wonderful shots which gave him control of the first round and left him in front at the end of the round by three points. In the second, Wall regained his composure and began finding the target and reducing Gallagher’s grip on the contest. The boxers were all square going out for the final round and this is where Wall used his experience when wearing down the resilience of Gallagher and taking the contest 15-10.
The finals began at 12pm on Sunday and some highly anticipated bouts were on offer. The action began in the Novice 60KG final where Niall Barrett (DIT) turned on a master class of boxing to easily out score Mark Teahan (Dundalk IT). This was followed by Edward Garrahy (UCC) taking home the 64KG title when defeating Christopher Thomas (Tralee IT) 8-3. Tommy Quinn (Carlow IT) won the Novice 67KG title when beating Jake Hassett (Cork IT) on a 10-7 score. The 71KG Novice final was all action and also produced the closest margin of the entire Championships. Jamie Griffin (NUI Maynooth), who previously had won his semi-final on a countback, was now adjudged to be the loser of his final on a double countback to Michael Murphy (NUI Galway). The bout was close throughout with Griffin taking the first round by two points and Murphy taking rounds two and three by a one point margin. After a 9-9 final score, the system of registered hits still couldn’t split them as it was 7-7 and the judges then had to decide and declared Murphy the Novice 71KG champion.
In the 75KG Novice final, Cian Dennehy (Cork IT) beat Richard Quinn (Tallaght IT) on a 6-3 scoreline. This was a close contest also but Dennehy had a very strong second round which probably swung the contest in his favour. In the Novice 81KG final, Ciaran Daly (Cork IT) won 9-5 against David Brady (Tralee IT). The 85KG division was an all Cork IT affair with Liam O’Tuairisg and Conor Buckley squaring off. Buckley looked the stronger and more composed from the off and opened up a commanding lead going into the final round. O’Tuairisg battled bravely knowing that this title was going back to Cork IT but not with his name attached. In the 91+ KG divisions, Kane O’Shea (UCC) was too strong for Niall Curran (Tralee IT) in the opening two rounds and looked comfortable. However, Curran applied the pressure in the final round and dominated it, landing some good shots, but alas, it was too late. O’Shea was declared the winner on a 14-6 score line.
The next contest in the ring was the 75KG, Intermediate final where Finbar Murphy (UCC) proved too strong for John King (UL) when winning convincingly by 13-2. The super heavyweight final followed with Eoin Murphy (Cork IT) battling it out with Mark Clarke (IT Tallaght). Clarke started strongly and landed some telling blows on Murphy who was forced into retreat during the opening round. In the second, Murphy came out like a new man and met fire with fire as he and Clarke traded shots. Clarke refused to be pushed back and held his own in the round. In the last round, Clarke again dominated and took the round and the contest on 17-7 score line. The Intermediate 64KG final was in next and Nigel Killeen (GCC) met another man from the west in the form of David Martin (NUI Galway). Martin started the better in the first but allowed Killeen back into the bout in the second before resuming control in the last round to win the contest 16-8. The Intermediate 71KG final was next up and Gerard Fahy (GMIT) and Darragh Finn (LIT Tipp Campus) were battling it out. The first round was a placid affair before Finn started landing some good shots in the second. He continued to apply the pressure in the last round and went on to claim the title 12-5.
The senior division had thrown together some mouth watering contests and the 64KG final was eagerly awaited. This paired David Parnell (Blanchardstown IT) with James McDowell (UL). From his performance the previous day, McDowell seemed odds on to take the title. Parnell though wouldn’t be giving up without a fight. The first round began with McDowell teasing his opponent with jabs and backhands. He was moving in and out of range at ease and Parnell was finding it difficult to get his shots on target. In the second, McDowell continued to land the telling shots while Parnell tried in vain to get back into this contest. As the clock ticked, so too did Parnell’s chances of taking the title. In the last round, the University of Limerick boxer showed his class while moving at ease and scoring with ease also. He had some fans in the audience who cheered his boxing display throughout and in the end their man was declared the winner on a 13-4 score line.
The next bout in the ring was the senior 69KG final and without doubt, this was the bout of the Championships. Ryan Harkin (NUI Galway) was in against Martin Wall (DIT) and fireworks were expected. Harkin came out the strongest and attacked Wall from the first bell. He never allowed Wall to get into a rhythm and kept him on the end of some big punches. Wall refused to step back and the crowd knew they were in for a treat. The bell at the end of the first was almost like an intrusion. But, luckily for the spectators, both boxers came out in the second to serve up more of what was offered in the first – pure action! The fitness levels of both these men must have been very high as they both moved and chased each other around the ring, landing shots that would cause a lesser person to call it a day. The big right hands of Harkin were finding their target, Wall would respond with punishing body shots and hooks to the head. The action was intense. Again, the intrusive bell seemed to spoil the crowd’s whetted appetite and they craved for more of the same in the last round. The boxers didn’t disappoint! Both went at it again knowing that an Irish Title was at stake and they refused to let the chance go easily. As the round wore on, both boxers slowed down but the intensity of their shots was still palpable. Near the end of the final round, Wall caught Harkin in his own corner and landed some crushing body and head shots which forced the referee to step in and issue a count. This onslaught by Wall seemed to be the difference between the boxers because when the final score was announced, Wall took it on points by 21-18. This contest was good enough to grace any boxing arena. Eamon Walsh (GMIT) brought the curtain down on these Championships when beating fellow Mayo man James Kelly (Carlow IT) on a 15-4 score line in the Senior 81KG division.