By Martin Breheny
Ireland’s desperate bid to qualify boxers for the Olympic Games in Sydney later this year has added considerable spice to the National senior championships, which got under way last weekend.
As of now, no Irish boxer has qualified for Sydney, and with only three qualifying tournaments left, the situation is very serious as it would be a disaster for the sport if it drew an Olympic blank. Most of the top contenders, including Francis Barrett, made it through the preliminary rounds last weekend. The semi-finals take place next weekend with the finals on Friday week, after which the new champions will attempt to qualify for the Olympics.
Boxing has always been at the top of Ireland’s Olympic agenda, but the qualifying tournaments have reduced the options and there are now fears that for the first time Ireland will not carry the boxing flag into Sydney 2000, just eight years after Michael Carruth won a gold medal and Wayne McCullough took silver at the Barcelona Olympics.
Derry City win
Shelbourne’s unbeaten run which extends back to last season was ended by Derry City on Sunday. The Northerners won 1-0 at the Brandywell to open up the Eircom League table. A goal by Liam Coyle downed the Dubliners, whose lead at the top of the table was cut to two points. They are on 44 points, just two ahead of a resurgent Bohemians, who are enjoying a great season under the management of Roddy Collins, brother of former world super-middleweight boxing champion Steve Collins.
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Cork City are five points (37) further back, followed by Shamrock Rovers (36), who beat St. Patrick’s Athletic 2-1 on Sunday.
Catherina McKiernan’s season has run into early trouble. The Cavan star has had to pull out of the London marathon in April due to injury but is confident that her long-term plans for gold at the Sydney Olympics in September will not be effected.
Bobbyjo, winner of the Aintree Grand National last April, made his seasonal re-appearance at Fairyhouse on Sunday but was well-beaten. However, trainer, Tommy Carberry wasn’t disappointed by the performance as he has planned a special program that he hopes will have the horse in peak condition for his attempt to retain the Grand National prize next April.
"Aintree is still three months away. Bobbyjo will need a few races to get him ready but I’m happy enough with the way he is progressing," Carberry said.