Barnes through to Moscow final


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Paddy Barnes had a convincing victory over Spain's José de la Nieve Linares

Friday, 11 June 2010

Paddy Barnes is through to the final of the European Championships, but Tyrone McCullagh and Eric Donovan are out as the semi-finals continue in Moscow.

Barnes qualified for the final of the 48kg light flyweight compettition after a semi-final victory over Spain's José de la Nieve Linares.

Barnes is now guarenteed a silver medal at the very least after a convincing victory 6-3 over Linares at the Ice Palace.


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Ireland coach hails 'phenomenal' boxers

Friday, 11 June 2010

Ireland's Darren O'Neill and Paddy Barnes will fight for European titles on Saturday after another extraordinary day for the Irish at the European Boxing Championships in Moscow.

The two men are guaranteed at least silver, to add to the bronze medals won by Ken Egan, Eric Donovan and Tyrone McCullagh, who lost in the semi-finals.
It's the most medals ever won by an Irish team at a modern-day major championships.

Speaking after the semi-finals, Ireland coach Billy Walsh said: 'It's phenomenal. If you'd told us on the way out that we'd be leaving Russia with two finalists and five medals, we'd have taken it with both hands.'

Darren O'Neill was imperious as he brushed aside the challenge of Bulgaria's Mladen Manev, shutting out the dangerous Bulgarian by six points to nil.

Afterwards, O'Neill described his success here as a 'dream come true'.

The Kilkenny middleweight, who is a primary school teacher at a north Dublin school, will now face the very dangerous Russian Artem Chebotarev in the final.

Paddy Barnes also qualified for the finals, this time in of the 48kg light flyweight category, after a semi-final victory over Spain's José de la Nieve Linares.

The Belfast 23-year-old is now guaranteed a silver medal at the very least after a convincing victory 6-3 over Linares at the Ice Palace.

'I'm over the moon,' said Barnes. 'I was quicker off the mark than he was, and I stuck to the game plan.'

Barnes, facing an opponent who won the silver medal at the last European Championships, was controlled and composed, defended for long periods, then struck out for a score.

The Belfast boxer will face Elvin Mamishzade, who Barnes already knows from the Irish team's training camp against Azerbijan.

Ken Egan, however, was desperately unlucky to go down to his nemesis Abdelkader Bouhenia, from France, the southpaw who beat the Dubliner in the quarter-finals of the World Championships.

The Irish captain came out fighting, looking for revenge, scoring three points within the first minute and built a five point lead.

At the end of the first round, the Neilstown man led by seven points to four; but the Frenchman came back, closing the gap to two points, catching Egan with a couple of great right hands.

This was much more of a battle than Egan usually likes. His calling card is to build up a lead, then counterpunch. But the Frenchman never let him settle.
Towards the end of the second round, Egan was hit hard on the jaw, and was clearly rattled.
The second round ended with Egan leading only by one, 8-7.

And they were level less than a minute into the final round.
With under two minutes to go, the Frenchman was ahead for the first time, 10-9. Bouhenia held his lead, and ran out the winner 11-9.

Egan was extremely disappointed after the fight. He said: 'I'm gutted. I should have maintained my lead. I was four or five points up but he caught me with a right hand. I recovered, but it was my own fault. But at least I've another medal to bring home.'

Irish coach Billy Walsh said he was disappointed for the three men who lost in the semis. 'I thought all five had a chance,' he said, speaking immediately after Ken Egan's defeat.
'He's still a great boxer - two European bronze medals and an Olympic silver medal - one of the best we've ever had,' said Walsh about the Irish captain.

It has been a record-breaking week for the Irish in Moscow. Seven Irish boxers reached the quarter-finals at the Megasport Ice Palace. Five of those converted their chances, and reached the semi-finals - ensuring Ireland a high position in the final overall medals table.

Athy's Eric Donovan and Derry teenager Tyrone McCullagh will now, like Egan, go home with bronze medals, the first major medals of their careers, after going down in the semis.

Donovan, facing world champion and home favourite Albert Selimov, made a real fight of it.

Just a point behind after the opening round, and 4-2 down after the second, the Kildare 24-year-old eventually lost out on a scoreline of 8-2.

Afterwards, he pronounced himself 'devastated, gutted'. He added: 'I didn't want to come here and be happy with the bronze medal.
'That was my final today. If I could have surprised everybody and beat Selimov, I believe I could have gone on to win the gold.'

He spoke of his intention to qualify for the World Championships and the London Olympics 'and win more medals for Athy and Ireland'.

Tyrone McCullagh, meanwhile, bowed out at the semi-final stage with a gutsy performance against English boxer Iain Weaver in the 57kg featherweight category.

'It's good to win bronze, but it's not what I came for,' said the young Derryman, who lost by ten points to three.
'I'll get over it and I'll be delighted with the bronze in a few days' time.'