Ireland set for record number of boxers in Paris after four fighters secure Olympic qualification

Aidan Walsh, Daina Moorehouse, Jennifer Lehane and Grainne Walsh all qualify but Martin McDonagh misses out in Bangkok

Ireland’s Aidan Walsh has qualified for his second Olympic games. Photograph: Dave Winter/Inpho

Aidan Walsh, Daina Moorehouse, Jennifer Lehane and Grainne Walsh have all qualified for the upcoming Paris Olympics after winning their latest fights at the qualifier in Bangkok.

The quartet takes the number of Irish boxers set to fight at the Olympics to 10, a record figure

All four won their respective quarter-finals on Sunday to punch their tickets, albeit Galway native Martin McDonagh lost his bout to Armenia’s Davit Chaloyan on a 3-2 split decision, ensuring Ireland could not make it a clean sweep for their five boxers in action.

Walsh recovered from defeat on Friday to progress safely through a box-off to secure his qualification. The Tokyo bronze medalist beat Puerto Rico’s Angel Gabriel Llanos Perez to win the four-fighter box-off in the 71kg weight class. He will join his sister, Michaela, among Ireland’s Olympic contingent.


Jennifer Lehane, fighting at 54kg, was the first Irish boxer to succeed on Sunday, securing a unanimous decision over Hungary’s Hanna Lakotar. “I feel on top of the world, this is the stuff dreams are made of,” she said following the fight. “I just can’t believe it. We sat down and put the tactics together and I implemented them. I stuck to my simple boxing and I think that’s what got me over the line today.”

Grainne Walsh followed up with a unanimous decision of her own, beating Ani Hovesepyan of Armenia in the 66kg category.

“I feel like it was all meant to be,” said Walsh. “I feel like I qualified back in Milan, and I came to Bangkok to collect my ticket. I believe everything happens for a reason and I’m just so delighted, over the moon.

“Having my family here - my dad, brother and sister - and the support of the nation and the community of Tullamore at home, my mam and my brother. I’m actually so proud of myself. It’s been a long road and it’s only the start.

“All the knockbacks, it had to be for this reason. Each time I got a knock back it set me up and added more strings to my bow for this moment, and that’s why this moment is all the sweeter.

“I actually can’t believe it. I’ve lived this moment over in my mind a million times and to actually have it come true now. It’s unbelievable.”

In the evening session, Daina Morehouse beat Zlatislava Chukanova of Bulgaria on a 4-1 split decision to guarantee her place in Paris at light flyweight.