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New stars set to emerge on Senior finals’ night at the Ulster Hall

Caitlin Fryers, who has been a highly decorated youth boxer, will take on Commonwealth Games’ silver medallist, Carly McNaul on Saturday Caitlin Fryers, who has been a highly decorated youth boxer, will take on Commonwealth Games’ silver medallist, Carly McNaul on Saturday
By David Mohan

ONE of the highlights of the boxing calendar will take place tonight (Saturday, from 7pm) as the Ulster Hall plays host to the Ulster Elite finals’ night.

While the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham may be three years away, the road for the next wave of young boxers starts now as they aim to lay down a marker at the start of the cycle.

There are 11 finals down for decision with the only walkover coming in the women’s 75kg category for Caroline Connelly (Mourne GG), while the rest all look ultra competitive.

That is certainly the case in the 57kg decider when one of two St George’s hopefuls, Colm Murphy will take on Star’s John Paul Hale.

What makes this final even more intriguing is the fact they will also meet next weekend in the Irish U22 decider, so Saturday will be a chance to lay down a marker ahead of next weekend’s meeting and also the next few years with the search for the next Commonwealth Games team underway.

“Both lads won their semi-finals at the U22s at the weekend there and this Saturday is the first of two meetings,” said coach, Jim McGivern.

“Colm and JP have competed before so they know each other well and it should make for good finals on both occasions. They are both lads for the future and are looking at Commonwealth Games in the future.”

Murphy impressed in his semi-final against Conor Kerr, while Hale romped past defending champion, Eamonn McNally in the last four – both on unanimous decisions.

“JP has trained very hard and meets him in the U22 final next as well, so it’s a big couple of weeks,” agreed Star coach, Liam Corr.

“He has put the number one out in each of the competitions so far, but we won’t be taking anything for granted because ‘Murph’ is a good kid as well. They’re both there on merit.

“They fought last year and JP just got the nod, so we know both will come out all guns blazing and in the shape of their lives so it should be a good fight.”

Another St George’s man aiming for provincial glory is McGivern’s oldest son, James who sets out to claim the 63kg against Dylan Duffy from Pegasus.

Touted for big things, McGivern came of age in November 2017 when he defeated Sean Duffy to land the 60kg version and he moves up for a crack at the 63kg title this weekend.

The Lower Ormeau man will be hotly fancied to prevail and despite being relatively new to Elite level, his exploits at the Commonwealth Games when he took bronze means he is one of the leading lights this weekend.

“James and Dillon are good friends and have been on the U22 team,” added Jim.

“They have sparred each other loads of times, so they know each other well.

“There are a lot of young fellas there who have come through this year and are making the transition into senior, but James has been there. This would be his second Ulster final. He was new to it in 2017, but he would be one of the more senior boys now.

“He’s had plenty of underage experience internationally; won the Seniors in 2017 and then got a bronze at the Commonwealths. This is a big year as it’s the first step on the ladder with the Irish Seniors coming up next month and that gets you into pole position for the Olympics’ qualification tournaments.”

Intriguing

There is a hugely intriguing women’s 51kg final as rising Immaculata star, Caitlin Fryers takes on Holy Family’s Carly McNaul.

McNaul lost in the 2017/18 final to Ceire Smith, but this was merely fuel for the fire as she went on to claim silver at the Commonwealth Games last year.

The Sandy Row girl will enter as favourite due to her experience at this level, but Fryers is hardly coming in under the radar.

The teenager is a highly decorated youth boxer having medalled at the World and European Youths on top of a number of domestic titles.

Fryers will hope this Saturday cane be the opportunity to put herself in pole position at 51kg going forward, but a highly entertaining bout is expected.

Tiernan Duffy is another hoping for provincial success as the Clonard man takes on Eugene McKeever from Holy Family, Drogheda in the 69kg final.

It is a huge night for Corpus Christi as they have their first-ever Elite finalist in the firm of Jack O’Neill who takes on Ederney’s Rory Baird in the 49kg decider.

It looks like it will be a night for breakthrough stars and another hopeful, Barry McReynolds has his sights on the 60kg title against Errigal’s Dominic Bradley, while Paul McCullagh Jnr takes on Noel Donnelly in the light-heavy final.

Elsewhere, Holy Family heavyweight, Michael Erpelding will take on Scorpion’s Karl Dlugosz; Oakleaf star Brett McGinty goes up against Fergus Quinn from Camlough in the 75kg final; while the women’s 48kg final will be contested between Canal’s Chloe Fleck and Donna Bar from Illies.

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