Now shaping up to be an unprecedented tournament for Irish boxers, Westport’s Shannon Sweeney and Belfast’s Caitlin Fryers joined seven other Irish athletes to bring to nine the number of Irish women who have advanced into the quarter-finals stage of the European Championships in Budva, Macedonia.
Both in the lighter end of the weight categories, Sweeney (48kg) came through on a unanimous decision against Armenia’s Gayana Ter-Barseghyan, with the bout almost being stopped and Fryers (50kg) surviving tough early rounds against England’s Alifia Stubley to finish on the rise for a hard fought 3-2 points win.
In all, five Irish boxers will vie for medals on Tuesday with four more including Fryers in the ring on Wednesday again seeking podium places.
Sweeney was the first in the ring in Monday’s afternoon session and quickly established total superiority over her opponent.
Bravely coming forward, the Armenian however was consistently walking into the Irish southpaw’s strong backhand, which landed time and time again. Moving freely and keeping her distance with the left cocked, Sweeney scored throughout the first round, two of the five judges scoring it 10-8 in Ireland’s favour, the other three 10-9.
But the tempo from the Irish corner was not about to slow and again Sweeney put her right jab and back left to good use, with clean scoring shots again breaking the defence of her opponent.
Again, two of the five judges saw it totally one-sided and scored it 10-8, with the others 10-9 in Sweeney’s favour. In cruise mode the third round brought no end to the onslaught.
Twice the referee stepped in to give the Armenian a standing count and a break from the punishment. After the third round all five judges marked Sweeney the comprehensive 10-8 winner and the fight 5-0, propelling her into a place in the quarter-finals.
Fryers faced a rangy and taller opponent who, in the earlier exchanges, scored and fled. But always closing the ring and the more aggressive, go-forward one of the pair, the Irish woman’s persistence paid off.
Fryers trailed 3-2 after round one and after the second round, three of the five judges also went with the England boxer. But in the final round Fryers pushed Stubley back with total aggression and the English girl’s poise broke, Fryers catching the eye of all five judges for a unanimous 10-9 round and the winning of the bout 3-2 on points.
Last 16 – (48kg) S Sweeney (Irl) beat G Ter-Barseghyan (Armenia) UD; (50kg) C Fryers (Irl) beat A Stubley (Eng) 3-2.