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Sports : Sports-John Mulligan Last Updated: 2, Apr 2018 - 10:02

A night to remember
By John Mulligan
13, Nov 2002 - 19:52

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A night to remember
Success was the order of the day at the Welcome Inn on Saturday evening last when the boxers of Castlebar with some invited guests took on an Invitational selection as part of Castlebar Boxing Club’s annual dinner show.
The large crowds were treated to nine bouts of the highest order with many national champions taking to the ring in what was a night of pure class. And they didn’t disappoint, with excellent action from the very first bell.
First into the ring was Castlebar’s Denis Ahern who faced Glen Clarke from the well-known Drimnagh club in Dublin. Backed by a vocal home support, the local lad showed that he is a name for the future with a solid display in the second and third rounds to take the decision by a majority verdict. With that win the crowd were set, excited by the clean, and tactical approach by the youngster, who recovered well after a slow start.
Next up was the Intermediate lightweight clash between Thomas Warde of Ballina and Thomas Dillion, also from Drimnagh. Warred was relentless from the start, picking off his opponent with some choice hits, and taking the decision on a unanimous verdict. The scene had been set for an incredible night.
Next up was a youth lightweight contest between Mark Hopkins of Castlebar and Brian Joyce of Ballyvary in an all-Mayo contest. Both boxers gave it everything, encouraged by their corners and their supporters. In the end the judges called another unanimous decision in favour of the Castlebar man.
Next into the ring was the keenly awaited bout between Enda Cosgrave of Castlebar and Declan Conroy of the Golden Gloves club. In what was very even fight, both boxers had believed at the final bell that they had taken the tie, it was impossible to call, and the judges, all three of them took their time in declaring the winner. In the end it was a case of victory, but only just, to Conroy.
With four bouts gone, the audience was hanging off the rafters trying to get a good view of the boxing. The standard had been incredibly high since the beginning and was about to get better. The under-21 bout between Pat Geraghty of Castlebar and Chris McHale Roe of Midfield was to have everyone on their feet(commentators included). A Barrage of Punches from the Castlebar man has his opponent in trouble from the very start. The 2002 national champion tried his very best to get back into the fight but had no answer and the referee stopped the contest after just one minute and twenty eight seconds of the first round.
Then came the turn of Simon Byrne, the national boys champion of 2001, who took on the current champion Cathal Redmond of Portmarnock. It had the potential of being a classic bout in a match-up that people would rarely see. The two national champions of the previous years facing each other. After three rounds of pulsating boxing, the judges awarded the tie to Byrne, sending his supporters into a joyous celebration.
The seniors took over. John Waldron of Midfield, the 2001 Junior Champion, in preparation for his shot at the senior title early next year took on Edward Healy of Portlaoise. Healy was not there for the scenery and took the fight to Waldron, who battled well, and gave a good account of himself in the opening round. From the second round it was very evenly matched, both boxers hitting well and showing great determination. The third was tight but Waldron found his range to take the upper hand all the way to the bell. In the end the judges gave the bout to Waldron, who was obviously happy with his victory.
The junior light welterweight bout was next on the agenda, with Castlebar’s David McGreal taking on Jay Gruddy of Golden Gloves. McGreal never looked in doubt, winning the bout on a unanimous decision and showing that he may be a face to look our for in the future.
Then came what in many people’s eyes was the highlight of the night. The rematch between national under-21 champion Michael Mullaney of Claremorris and the man he defeated in the final Darren O’Toole of Gorey Co Wexford. The tension was thick, the crowd excited, the boxers prepared. Referee Peter Mullin from Westport took charge of the bout. With everything in place, the bell went for round one. A slow affair at first, both boxers taking their time, sizing the other up. Then it happened, Mullaney started to take control, abet momentarily. O’Toole started to throw some very good punches. At the end of the first it was still impossible to separate them. The second was clearer cut. Mulanney started to use his height and reach advantage to good use, picking off his opponent with crisp clear punches. O’Toole was rattled, unable to get inside with the style of fight that he was so well known for. Then a moment changed the fight for ever. The referee had separated the boxers for holding, in a moment of lapsed concentration, Mulanney caught O’Toole with a right jab to the head. That angered his opponent who started to lose the game plan. At the bell the advantage was fully with the Claremorris man. The Body language from both corners was as different as it could be. Mullaney stayed calm, looking straight at his trainer Joe Charles, not flinching. O’Toole was shaking his head, obviously not happy with what was going on. The bell went for the third round. Mullaney went for the finish, careful not to walk into any punch that would lose him this fight. O’Toole came back for more but by now his lack of concentration was getting the better of him. Mullaney raised his pace once more, his opponent could not respond and the referee stopped the fight to give him the mandatory eight count. Mullaney’s supporters could sense Victory. His team mate John Waldron, still in his boxing gear from the earlier fight, screaming encouragement from the audience, getting more excited as he shouted, knowing the fight could be won. A minute later it was. While in the middle of the second count administered by the referee, O’Toole raised his hand, and attempted to take off his glove. The referee stood in and stopped the fight. The crowd was on their feet. Truly delighted with the display of boxing that they had witnessed.
Overall it was an excellent nights entertainment. The standard of amateur boxing in Connacht is certainly improving and with fighters like those that had entered the ring, the future of boxing all over Connacht is certainly bright.

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