The IATBA Championships concluded on Sunday March 10th at the National Stadium Dublin after four days of top quality boxing. GMIT emerged as the most successful team in the championships with six IATBA titles, followed by UCC and UL with five titles each. DCU, whom had been the top team each time in the past number of years, finished with four titles won.
With over 170 entries, these third-level championships cater for all class ranges, where boxers can participate to represent their third level institution from complete beginner up to elite class standard. Three current IABA Elite Champions entered – Regan Buckley (Bray IFE), Patryk Adamus (NCI) and Thomas O’Toole (GMIT).
Saturday and Sunday, March 2nd and 3rd, saw the action get underway and some contests were in the balance up to the final bell. Justin Tang (CIT) edged William O’Connor (NUIG) on a 2-1 split decision in the Junior Novice 72KG division. Kevin Beirne (UL) also took a 2-1 split decision over Eoin O’Connor (MU) in another very close contest in the Junior Novice 75KG division. Conor Glackin (NUIG) also had to wait until the final bell to be sure of his win in another excellent contest with Declan Garvey (TCD). Glackin took it 2-1 to progress in the Junior Novice 75KG division. Harry Walsh (DCU) edged Luke Burke (WIT) on a 2-1 split decision to book his semi final spot and it all came down to the last round as both boxers were level going into it. On another day, Burke could have taken it but the difference between these boxers was minimal. There is definitely the making of a rematch somewhere down the line with these two! The Senior 63KG division threw up a classic when Sean Gallagher (TCD) got matched with Terry McEntee (DCU). After three quality rounds of boxing by both boxers, McEntee’s quantity of punching and supreme fitness levels came to the fore as he took the contest by a unanimous decision. This bout was followed by another top quality contest where Edgar Vuskans (QUB) took a 2-1 decision over Daryl Clarke (UU) in the Senior 69KG division. The result of this bout hung on the result of the last round and Vuskans had enough energy left in the tank to take it on all the judges scorecards. In the Senior 75KG division, Bryan McNamee (LYIT) took a unanimous decision over Airijus Vitlipas (NCI) in another top quality bout between two very experienced boxers.
The semi-finals saw Mary Kate Slattery (TCD) take a 2-1 split decision over Mai Nguyen (TU Dublin) in the Female Intermediate 57KG division. This contest was decided in the final round as both boxers were level after the first two rounds and Slattery got the nod in the last. In the Junior Novice 60KG semi-final, Donagh Egan (UCD) took a unanimous decision over Dean McMahon (MU). In the Junior Novice 69KG division, Beniamin Olar (CIT) took a unanimous decision over Michael Treanor (ITC). In the Junior Novice 72KG semi-final, Sean Owens took a split decision over Niall English in the all University of Limerick battle. Sean McDonnell (UCD) took a unanimous decision over Justin Tang (CIT) in the corresponding semi-final. In the Junior Novice 75KG semi-final, Brian O’Leary (UCC) beat Kevin Beirne (UL) on a unanimous decision while Harry Walsh (DCU) beat Conor Glackin (NUIG) 2-1 on the other side of the draw. The Junior Novice 91+KG semis saw Israel Akinniranye (DCU) win on a unanimous decision over Daniel Clarke (NUIG). Samuel Ilesanmi (TU Dublin) took a unanimous decision over Eithan Ntibimenya (MU). In the Senior Novice 63KG semi-final, Gavin Bradshaw (ICFE) beat Alfred Ololabi (TU Dublin) after the contest was abandoned before round three. The Senior Novice 75KG semi-final saw Jean Pierre Kaluena take a unanimous decision over Zana Palani (TU Dublin) while Conor McGinn (DCU) took a unanimous decision over Ruaidhri O’Conaill (UL) in the corresponding semi-final. In the Intermediate 69KG division, Mikey Keating (WIT) took a 2-1 split over Colm Conneely (NUIG) and again this contest went down to the wire before Keating had his hand raised. In the second Intermediate 69KG semi-final, Kieran McCole (DCU) took a unanimous decision over Jordan Hamilton (BMC) but only after taking the final round on all the judges scorecards. In the Intermediate 81KG semi-final, Harrison Eghosa Igharo (DKIT) took a unanimous decision over Matthew Doherty (ITS). In the Senior 75KG division semi-finals, Bryan McNameee (LYIT) took a unanimous decision over Peter Fabian (TU Dublin) while John Marshall (DCU) took a 2-1 split decision over James Gerard McDonagh (GMIT).
The finals were every bit as exciting as the earlier sessions and in the female novice 57KG final, Dearbhla Snow (UCC) took home the gold after a unanimous decision over Áine McKee (QUB). In the Novice 60KG final, Lauryn Walsh (UCC) showed her class as she overcame Kylie O’Donoghue (UL) by unanimous decision to make it a one two for UCC. Rachel Buchanan (GMIT) got the upper hand on city rival Aisling Parra Haren (NUIG) to take a unanimous decision and the 66KG Novice title. James Moone kept the UCC flag flying when he took a 2-1 split decision win over Donagh Egan (UCD) to claim the Junior Novice 60KG title. In the Junior Novice 63KG final, Darren O’Connor (NUIG) took a unanimous decision over Jamiu Adio (TU Dublin). In the Junior Novice 66KG final, Owen Doyle (MU) stopped his opponent John Dunne (UL) in the third round to claim the title. Danny Maguire (DCU) took a 2-1 split decision win over Beniamin Olar (CIT) in the Junior Novice 69KG final. This contest went right down to the wire with everything evenly poised up to the final bell where eventually, Maguire got the nod. The Junior Novice 72KG final saw Sean McDonnell (UCD) take a unanimous decision over Sean Owens (UL) to claim the title and Brian O’Leary (UCC) did likewise in the Junior Novice 75KG final with a unanimous win over Harry Walsh (DCU). The Junior Novice 78KG final saw Cian Fitzgerald Bradley (UL) take a unanimous decision over Stephen Lee (CIT) while in the Junior Novice 86KG final, Paul Buckley (UCC) got the unanimous decision win over Michael Conlan (SWRC). The Junior Novice 91+KG title was won by Samuel Ilesanmi (TU Dublin) following a unanimous decision over Israel Akinniranye (DCU).
The Senior Novice 60KG final was an excellent tussle between Adam Kiely (WIT) and MacDara O’Morain (UCD). With little between the boxers in a hard-hitting contest, Kiely took the verdict on a 2-1 split decision to claim the title. The Senior Noovice 63KG final followed with Gavin Bradshaw (ICFE) having the better of the bout against Gerard Hughes (BMC) to claim a unanimous decision. The Senior Novice 66KG final was an all TU Dublin affair between Jean Galino and Andre Mendes. This was another bout that went to the last round and Mendes got the nod from all the judges to claim the title. The Senior Novice 69KG final was a similar affair with the decision resting on the last round where David Giles (GMIT) eventually took it to claim a unanimous win over Alex Smirnov (TCD). The Senior Novice 72KG final saw another title go to GMIT when Jack McHugh took a unanimous decision win over John McLoughlin (BMC). In the Senior Novice 75KG final, Jean Pierre Kaluena (DKIT) took a unanimous decision win over Conor McGinn (DCU) despite a very strong last round from McGinn. In the Senior Novice 86KG final, Jordan Doyle (UL) dominated his opponent Ayo Bakare (GMIT) to take the title on a unanimous decision. The Senior Novice 91+KG decider was a classic between two big men. Taiwo Tibetan (GMIT) dominated the opening two rounds and even gave his opponent a count in the second but Mushin Nassir (TU Dublin) refused to give up and landed some huge shots in the final round to hand Tibetan a count. After three pulsating rounds, Tibetan got the decision from all the judges to bring another title back to GMIT.
In the Youth 63KG final, Jack McGivern (BMC) used his vast experience to overcome Jack Gill (MU) and take the title with a unanimous decision. In the Youth 75KG final, Louis Browne (SRC) took a split decision win over Martín O’Donaicha (OFCFE) in a contest that saw big shots landed by both boxers.
The Intermediate finals started with Eirinn Rocks (BMC) taking the 57KG title following a unanimous decision win over Kevin McGrath (TU Dublin). In the 60KG Intermediate final, Eoghan Chelmiah (ITC) took a 2-1 split decision win over Daniel Glavin (CIT). The Intermediate 63KG final saw Ryan McCarthy (CIT) and Martin Tolan (BMC) get stuck into an action packed contest from first to last bell. McCarthy took the unanimous decision win and Tolan made him work hard to earn it. This contest was followed by another classic when Mikey Keating (WIT) and Kieran McCole (DCU) faced off in the Intermediate 69KG decider. As with many of the really close bouts over the Championships, this contest came down to the last round and McCole shaded it in that last round to take a 2-1 split decision. The Intermediate 75KG final saw Euan McConnell (UU) facing Ronan Kelly (TU Dublin). Despite a strong showing from Kelly throughout, McConnell seemed to always have the upper hand and took the contest with a unanimous decision. The Intermediate final at 81KG proved to be another humdinger when Harrison Eghosa Igharo (DKIT) faced Danny Boyle (LYIT). With little to choose between the boxers over the first two rounds, Igharo shading the first and Boyle the second, it again came down to the last round. This round again was very close and the delay before announcing the decision only added to the suspense. Eventually, following a split 2-1 decision, Boyle was declared the winner and the title was going to Donegal.
In the Senior finals, the Female 48KG final was up first and Ciara Walsh (ICFE) faced Emma Feeney (Cavan Inst.). This was a tight contest with Feeney doing enough over the three rounds to win unanimously and bring the title back to Cavan. The Senior 57KG final was an all University of Limerick battle between Chloe O’Keefe and Joanne Padden. After three rounds of boxing, O’Keefe came out on top with a unanimous decision win. In the Senior 75KG final, Shannon Reilly (Bray IFE) took the title following a unanimous win over Renee Roach (DCU). In the battle of the men at Senior 63KG, Terry McEntee (DCU) retained his light welterweight title with a unanimous decision win over Tadgh McGowan (GMIT). McEntee turned the screw as the rounds wore on and handed standing counts to McGowan in the final round as it looked like a stoppage may have been on the cards. Tadgh McGowan however held firm and saw the contest out. The Senior 69KG final for the men saw two seasoned campaigners take to the ring. Edgar Vuskans (QUB) and Michael Kinsella (UL) served up a treat for the spectators but Vuskans received two public warnings for losing his gumshield during the bout and this left him with a huge uphill battle to try to win the contest. The final result was a 2-1 split in favour of Kinsella much to the delight of his cornermen and supporters. Vuskans however can be proud of his showing on the day. The Senior 75KG final saw Bryan McNamee (LYIT) take a unanimous decision win over John Marshall in another cracking contest. McNamee received a cut to the head in the first but he didn’t let it interfere with his progress as he continued to stand close to Marshall and offload big shots. To his credit, Marshall matched McNamee in the punching department but the Letterkenny IT boxer had a little bit more when it mattered. Overall, a cracking contest.
Report by Paddy Gallagher, IATBA
Pictures from the 2019 IATBA Championships