London 2012 Olympians Adam Nolan and Darren O'Neill cruised through to the finals of the 2016 men's National Elite Championships after their respective semi-finals wins at the National Stadium last night.
The 2016 tournament is being held early to avoid clashing with the build-up to international Olympic qualifiers next year, and Kilkenny heavyweight O’Neill booked his final place in impressive style.
The former middleweight European silver medallist stopped Belfast opponent Stephen McMonagle after sending the Holy Trinity fighter to the canvas with a heavy blow, and a big left uppercut from O’Neill forced a second count for McMonagle and the end of the bout.
Bray-based welterweight (69kg) Nolan recorded a unanimous points win over Antrim's Michael Bustard, controlling the fight throughout and boxing in a slightly more aggressive style than his usual approach.
Fight of the night was Dean Walsh’s split-decision win over
of Galway’s Olympic club in what was a very tight call.
Light-welterweight (64kg) champion Walsh landed shots while on the move, with Cleary, moving forward with effective pressure, but the former held on for a split-decision win.
“I take my hat off to James, it was a close fight and it could have went either way,” admitted a gracious Walsh, nephew of former Ireland head coach Billy.
In last night's opener, European underage champion John Joyce booked a middleweight (75kg) semi-final clash with world medallist Michael O'Reilly tonight after overcoming Fearghus Quinn of Camlough on a split call.
The much-anticipated battle of brothers failed to go ahead last night as Hugh Joyce conceded a walkover to elder sibling David Oliver.
Regan Buckley (49kg), TJ Waite (52kg) and Christopher Blaney (81kg) all claimed split-decision wins, while Irish bantamweight (56kg) champion Kurt Walker won via unanimous decision against Colin O'Donovan of Togher.
Super-heavyweight Dean Gardiner was awarded a walkover.