12 elite Irish champs crossing the Atlantic to take on the USA
The IABA has included 12 national elite champions in an 18-strong squad to represent Ireland in three clashes with the USA this month.
Lauren Hogan, Kellie Harrington, Grainne Walsh, Aoife Burke, Dean Gardiner, Kiril Afanasev, Caoimhin Agyarko-Hynes, Michael Nevin, Kieran Molloy, Wayne Kelly, George Bates and Evan Mecalfe, who all claimed Irish Elite belts last month, will line out against the Americans.
The two nations will go toe-to-toe in Boston next Monday, March 12, Springfield on March 15 and Manchester, New Hampshire on March 21.
"It’s a great opportunity to develop a partnership between us and the American team because we are not competing against each other to qualify for major tournaments out there," said IABA High Performance Director Bernard Dunne ahead of the squad's departure tomorrow morning.
"I also see it as a great opportunity for both nations to start sharing ideas and developing our athletes together. America is always strong; they’ve got great strength in depth. They have a lot of talent out there."
Ireland's boxing talent will be led by head coach Zaur Antia whose squad trebles up at middleweight and light-welter.
World Elite finalist Kellie Harrington lines out at lightweight, while World Junior Finalist Paddy Donovan has been drafted into the panel.
“We’re bringing out a young team,” added Dunne. “It’s a developing team and it’s an opportunity to have a look at them in this environment. I’m sure it’s going to be a lively atmosphere at all the bouts because it’s the St Patrick’s festival and Ireland versus the USA always attracts attention.
“We have a young team, but they’ve got talent. We have talented young boxers coming through that have been coached in their clubs and developed in their clubs. They’re coming to us with a skill set and we polish them off and bring them to the next level.”
Meanwhile, Irish Olympian Kevin McBride has been named honorary Irish captain and “Irish” Mickey Ward is honorary American skipper for the treble header.
Former Irish head coach Billy Walsh, now chief seconds with the USA, is expected to call up a number of his leading prospects.
Fixtures USA v Ireland
March 12: Royale Entertainment Complex, Boston, Mass.
March 15: MassMutual Center, Springfield, Mass.
March 21: The Manchester Downtown Hotel, Manchester, N.H.
54kg: Lauren Hogan (St Brigid’s BC)
60kg: Kellie Harrington (St Mary’s BC)
69kg: Grainne Walsh (Spartacus BC)
75kg: Aoife Burke (St Mary’s BC)
91kg+: Dean Gardiner (Clonmel BC)
91kg: Kiril Afanasev (Glasnevin BC)
81kg: Caoimhin Agyarko-Hynes (Holy Trinity BC)
75kg: Michael Nevin (Portlaoise BC)
75kg: Brett McGinty (Oakleaf BC)
75kg: Gerard French (Clonard BC)
69kg: Kieran Molloy (Oughterard BC)
69kg: Eugene McKeever (Holy Family BC)
64kg: Wayne Kelly (Portlaoise BC)
64kg: Caoimhin Ferguson (Clonard BC)
64kg: Paddy Donovan (OLOL BC)
60kg: George Bates (St Mary’s BC)
60kg: Francis Cleary (Ballina BC)
56kg: Evan Metcalfe (Hyland Academy BC)
Team manager – Bernard Dunne
Head coach – Zauri Antia
Coach – Phillip Keogh
Coach – Martin Donovan
Coach – Paul Thompson