Nine Irish boxers one fight away from guaranteed bronze

Smith, Irvine and Gardiner all in action today with medal glory within grasp

So, and in no particular order, that's Darren O'Neill, Brendan Irvine, Dean Gardiner, Ceire Smith, Dean Walsh, Adam Nolan, Sean McComb, Michael O'Reilly and Katie Taylor, all now just one more victory away from the guarantee of at least a bronze medal.

If you’re having a little difficulty keeping pace with the Irish boxers at these games then you’re not the only one.

For now, the fighters to concentrate on are Smith (flyweight), Irvine (light flyweight), and Gardiner (super heavyweight), all three Irish fighters going into the ring in Baku today fighting for at least that bronze medal.

Irvine will be out first (9.30am Irish time), against local gold medal hope Salman Alizada from Azerbaijan, and the Belfast man can expect a hostile reception. Irvine has already taken out Tinko Banabakov, from Bulgaria, 3-0, and it's going to be fascinating to see how the 19-year-old Irvine fares against the number one seed and home favourite Alizada.


The 22-year-old Smith, from the Cavan boxing club, enjoyed a unanimous 3-0 win over Norway's Camilla Johansen, but again faces a daunting challenger in Russian Saiana Sagataeva (2.15pm Irish time).

It won't be easy for Gardiner, either: he survived a roaring contest against Italian Guido Vianello at super heavyweight on Saturday and the big man from Clonmel actually found himself on the canvas, taking the knock-down, with 30 seconds remaining in the first round.

He immediately recovered to win a unanimous decision from the judges, 3-0 and now faces the Frenchman Tony Yoka (5.30pm Irish time), and looks to have the momentum to carry him through. Nolan took out another fiery Italian, Dario Morello, 3-0, and faces Britain's Josh Kelly tomorrow.

Earlier yesterday, Michael O'Reilly set up his middleweight quarter-final bout when he comfortably took out Emir Sabotic from Montenegro, on a unanimous decision, 3-0. The 22-year-old from Portlaoise, supremely calm and in control throughout, won't fear his next opponent, the 21-year-old Aljaz Venko, Slovenia, that bout set for Wednesday (9.15 am Irish time). McComb also set up his quarter-final bout on Tuesday, his opponent there being Yasin Yilmaz from Turkey: Yilmaz, only 20, had a much closer passage in his last 16 bout, and McComb looks well capable of coming away with the win.


Natasha MacManus was in action for the second time this week, making the final of the women’s three-metre springboard dive, and the 17-year-old certainly wasn’t too far out of her depth, finishing a very creditable tenth overall.

Conor Dunne put in a sterling effort in the men's cycling road race, a gruelling 215.8km of laps around downtown Baku in searing heat and testing crosswinds. Dunne was part of a breakaway group for long stages, but finally well away on the last two laps, swallowed up by the peloton to finishing 45th in the end, three places ahead of Eddie Dunbar, the Cork teen also having an excellent ride, as victory went to the top Spaniard Luis Sanchez. The three other Irish riders, Sean Downey, Ryan Mullen and Jack Wilson, dropped out.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics