Kellie Harrington among four Irish boxers to qualify for European semi-finals

Aoife O’Rourke, Shannon Sweeney and Niamh Fay also through to the medal bouts but Lisa O’Rourke misses out

It was another successful night in Belgrade for Irish boxing with four from the five who were competing making it through to the semi-finals of the European boxing championships.

Tokyo Olympic champion Kellie Harrington was one of the four to advance despite a slow start to her bout against Slovakia’s Ozer Gizem. However, Harrington shook herself for the second round to pull away and win her quarter-final 5-2 on the judges’ cards. The 34-year-old hopes to become the first Irish boxer to successfully defend an Olympic crown later this year and only the second do it after hammer thrower Dr Pat O’Callaghan in 1928 in Amsterdam and 1932 in Los Angeles.

Although the Dubliner won the first round, it came by split decision with two of the five judges giving it to Gizem.

But Harrington came out in the second round with much more aggression and boxing at a higher tempo to win the round on all five cards.


That asked questions of the Slovakian boxer in the third round, which she could not answer. Harrington finished with poise and stayed clear of danger to make it safely through to the semi-finals.

Former European champion Aoife O’Rourke had to watch her sister Lisa go out of the tournament before she had a 5-0 win over Hungary’s Veronika Nakota. O’Rourke was all action for the three rounds, earning all of the judges’ cards in the first two rounds. That made it a cruise into the semi-final and although Nakota rallied, O’Rourke easily had enough to set herself up for a chance of another European final.

Shannon Sweeney also won her light flyweight bout against Spain’s Laura Fuertes Fernandez, who was the top seed in the competition with Niamh Fay receiving a walkover against Stanmira Petrova to also advance up the podium with a semi-final bout to come.

Lisa O’Rourke, who won a gold medal at the 2022 World championships in the light middleweight division, went out of the competition to Slovakia’s Jessica Triebelova in a tight bout. O’Rourke probably gave up too much ground in the first round to her opponent when all five judges awarded a 10-9 score to Tribelova for 5-0. Although O’Rourke won the second round on four of the judges’ cards, she fell just short despite an aggressive, go-forward third round. The judges scored it 4-3 in favour of her opponent.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times