Boxing is the winner as young fighters are taken out of comfort zone

The Mayo Boxing Development Unit Team.  Photo by John O’Connor

The Mayo Boxing Development Unit Team. Photo by John O’Connor

A team selection from Mayo’s Boxing Development Unit clashed with their Donegal counterparts in St Anne’s boxing club Westport. Designed to take our young prospects out of their comfort zone, these inter-county tests produce some extraordinary performances.

Achill’s Fionn Curtis (12 years, 47kg ) was a case in point. A relative novice in terms of experience, he rose to the occasion and gave his older, heavier and more experienced opponent a real run for his money. For two rounds the momentum was shared and even in the later stages, when the weight difference began to tell, Curtis held his composure, continuing to box with skill and maturity beyond expectation.

He wasn’t going to win this one but Curtis’ performance was hugely encouraging and must surely boost his confidence. Fourteen year old, 66kg boxer, Dillon Maher has experience but finding opponents in his class is difficult. He also found himself giving away age, weight and contending with a mulitple times Ulster champion, so on paper he appeared to have his work cut-out. The Donegal boxer started at a furious pace, obviously hoping to catch Maher off guard.

But Maher quickly gathered his senses and rather than engage in a fight, wisely chose to box off his back foot. The contest developed into a defensive exhibition of high order with Maher giving ground whenever necessary and using accurate straight right crosses and pivots off the left hook to either stall his opponent’s advances or avoid his rushes.

This was a very good performance from the young Castlebar boxer. Ardarg/Crossmolina boxer, Patrick McAndrew was also one that was asked to step up in class as he was matched with Convoys, Ryan Ward Mulrine. The Donegal boxer has over fifty contests under his belt and is known on the Ulster circuit for producing early stoppages. But McAndrew solidly found Mulrine several times in the first to give the Donegal man a lot to think about at the break.

The second was also very even but Mulrine had changed tact, no longer trying to overwhelm but instead going back to his boxing and in the process showing he has no shortage of skill. Going into the third and last it was about even, McAndrew had taken everything Mulrine had thrown and found as many scores himself and he had every chance of upsetting the odds. Mid way through the round it appeared that Mulrine was beginning to run out of ideas and steam and McAndrew looked to get the better of the later exchanges and finished another close round the stronger.

But it wasn’t to be, the judging on the whole was good but both Mayo’s McAndrew and Alan Brennan can consider themselves very unfortunate. Sixteen year old Charlestown middleweight, Alan Brennan, is an experienced athlete who can compete with the best but he can occasionally lose focus if he’s not fully tested.

He was matched with Brian Elliot, a tough and seasoned campaigner, a couple of kilo and couple of years older who, like Brennan, can produce the goods when the mood takes him. As befitting the occasion, the two had full intent on Sunday and we were treated to a bruising yet skill filled contest with neither shirking the cause.

Brennan appeared slightly stronger, being able to push Elliot back at will but that actually seemed to suit the Donegal man who looked comfortable on the ropes, boxing well inside. Brennan could have made this a lot easier for himself if he’d kept it long because his hurtful right crosses and left hooks found Elliot numerous times in the first two rounds. But in his haste he smothered much of his own work in the third and it was a close last round.

It was a good contest and both deserve praise for serving it up but Brennan had landed the majority of cleaner shots and really should have been rewarded for it. Other notable bouts featured Ardnaree’s Fionn Gill, Ballyhaunis’ Peter Maughan and Ballina duo Thomas and Martin Ward. The final tally had Donegal just beating Mayo by nine bouts to eight which stood testament to the team manager’s match making skills.

But whatever about the scores this was a very enjoyable day for all involved and a rewarding educational experience for the Mayo Development Unit’s boxers.

Results, Mayo First: Fionn Curtis 1-2 Danny Buchanan. Thomas Maughan 3-0 Eunan McLoughlin. Eoighan Lavin 3-0 Pauric O’Donnell . Fionn Gill 0-3 Andrew Cunningham. Sean Dunleavy 0-3 Fionn Rodgers. Peter Maughan 3-0 Liam Mc Monagle. Dillon Maher 3-0 Oran Devine. Patrick Mc Andrew 1-2 Ryan Ward Mulrine. Martin McDonagh 1-2 John Moran. Thomas Ward 3-0 James Devlin. Cian Mullen Rt2 Oisin Devlin. Adam Dempsey 3-0 Ruarai Mc Elhinney. Alan Brennan 1-2 Brian Elliott. Owen Mc Donagh TKO2 Tom Doherty. Oisin Brown 0-3 Odhran Rodgers. Martin Ward 2-1 Kieran Mc Cole. Matthew Mc Donagh 1-2 Matthew Mc Cole.

Mayo Team Manager, Darren Fahey. Coaches, Martin Peake and Trevor Nash. Donegal Team Manager, John Elliot.

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