Limerick’s James Donovan to claim at least bronze in Bulgaria

Irish boxing hit the magic 100 mark at the European Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Championships today after James Donovan claimed at least bronze in Albena, Bulgaria today.

The Limerick flyweight, who boxes out of the Our Lady of Lourdes BC, showed his class to beat Bulgaria’s Dzhem Demirev on a unanimous decision to book his ticket into the last-four.

Earlier, Dublin’s John Fay guaranteed himself at least bronze after holding his composure and consistently picking off his shots against Mikita Harbuz of Belarus who received a public warning for dropping his head in the second round.

Today’s double, combined with the nine medal the Irish girls team are assured of in Albena, combined with the 89 medals that Ireland has won since the inaugural European Schoolboy Championships in Rome in 2003, takes the all-time total to 100 in 15 years of boxing at this level.

Some of the greats of Irish boxing, including Rio Olympian and three-time European champion Joe Ward and two weight-World pro champion Carl Frampton, contributed to the total with silver medal wins at Portsmouth 2007 and Rome 2003.

IABA President Dominic O’Rourke, Irish team managers Jennifer O’Sullivan and Martin Fenessey and coaches hailed the historic milestone.

Meantime, the search for medal 101 – and more – continues this afternoon with five athletesbetween the ropes. Boxing begins at 3.30pm (Irish time).

Michael Connors was the first Irish boxer in action today. Connors found the target with enough hooks to suggest that he could have got the decision against Caider Abduraimov but the judges opted for the talented Ukrainian after three close rounds.

2018 marks the first time that this tournament is a joint male and female competition.

Ireland is using a 31-strong squad in Albena.

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Raffaele Rocca