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Irish boxers take out big guns to power on in Minsk

Michael Nevin and Regan Buckley scored especially impressive victories over world-class opponents.

Michael Nevin celebrates his last-16 win.
Michael Nevin celebrates his last-16 win.

PORTLAOISE MIDDLEWEIGHT MICHAEL Nevin will fight a Turkish opponent for a medal after earning a sensational last-16 victory at the European Games in Minsk.

On another impressive day for Irish amateur boxing’s ‘new guard’, Nevin eliminated European champion and Rio 2016 bronze medallist Kamran Shakhsuvarly of Azerbaijan by unanimous decision to reach the last eight — his second win in as many days.

There were impressive victories, too, for Regan Buckley and James McGivern at the last-16 and last-32 stages respectively.

Wicklow light-fly Buckley joins Nevin in reaching the medal stages after dominating Bator Sagaluev, the Russian who beat Brendan Irvine — ruled out of this year’s games — in the 2015 EU final.

Buckley, who went 2-0 as a professional before re-entering the amateur ranks last year, earned a unanimous decision.

South Belfast’s McGivern was in cruise control as he stylishly outclassed Michal Takacs of Slovakia at light-welter, also picking up a unanimous decision.

There was one defeat for an Irish boxer on the day, however, as Dublin’s Tony Browne fought earnestly but lost out on a 4-1 split to Croatian Tony Filipi.

Judoka Megan Fletcher came within a fight of earning herself and Ireland a medal. The Reading-born Irish entry beat Spain’s Sarah Rodriguez and Britain’s Rio Olympic bronze medalist Sally Conway earlier in the day, but ultimately fell just short against Dutch competitor Sanne Van Dijke in the 70kg quarters before bowing out to another Croatian athlete, Barbara Matic, in the repechage.

D9vmGBtXkAAbA3e Megan Fletcher.

Aoife Gormally and Derek Burnett finished 15th and 31st respectively in the Shotgun Trap competition in what was the last of the qualification rounds. Gormally finished in the middle of 29 starters with 102 points in the women’s event. Both Gormally and Burnett will compete in the mixed trap event on Monday.

The Irish athletics team opened their bid in the newly introduced Dynamic New Athletics (DNA) event.

Stephen Gaffney got Ireland off the mark with an impressive performance in the men’s 100m, crossing the line in 10.67 to take second, while Sophie Meredith’s best of 5.74 was enough to take sixth in the long jump.

Niamh Whelan clocked a season’s best time of 11.79 in the women’s 100m to take what would be a series of fourth-placed finishes for the Irish team. Grace Casey was also fourth in the javelin, her best throw a 40.11.

Brendan Arrey, Sinead Denny, Catherine McManus and Andrew Mellon joined forces for the mixed 4x400m relay where Ireland claimed another fourth spot with a time of 3:24.37. Sprint hurdler Gerard O’Donnell clocked 14.15 and, you guessed it, fourth.

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Nelvin Appiah earned seven points for Ireland in the men’s high jump, taking joint-third. Sarah Lavin then pushed Ireland into third place overall ahead of the final event with a second-placed finish in the women’s 110m hurdles. Lavin clocked 13.46, two-tenths of a second off her PB.

The finale race, ‘The Hunt’, is a mixed medley relay of 800m, 600m, 400m and 200m, with the winning outfit progressing to the DNA semis. Ireland’s quartet of Conall Kirk, Amy O’Donoghue, Paul White and Victoria Harris finished in fifth place in 4:46.43, with Czech Republic taking their place in the last four. Ireland will compete in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Robert Jon McCarthy was Ireland’s highest finisher in the 180km men’s road race, coming in at 30th. Ireland’s Michael O’Loughlin and Ryan Mullen finished inside the main peleton also.

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