Irish bullish for Euro bid
'WE achieve because we believe' is the motto of the Irish Amateur Boxing High Performance Team. This morning the Irish Junior Boxing squad flew out to Anapa in Russia to compete in the European Junior Championships believing everything is possible.
Two medal prospects on the team are Michael Nevin and James Clarke. Both boxers will be returning to the town on the northern coast of the Black Sea where Nevin was crowned European Schoolboy Champion and Clarke won a bronze medal in 2012.
Billy McClean, Irish National IABA Junior and Youth Development Coach, reflects on their chances. "They (Michael and James) have matured physically, they've both adapted to the junior age group that they're both involved in," said McClean.
"Michael Nevin in particular was one of the most outstanding winners of the national senior cadet championship.
"He boxed extremely well in that tournament. Michael brings international quality to the Europeans. There's no question that if Michael was to get a decent draw he would certainly be a forerunner as a possible medallist."
McClean added: "James has only recently regained his Irish title after losing it and James is basically on the comeback trail. Once again James is a very hard puncher for his young age at 80 kilos, which is junior heavyweight.
"We put a lot of work in with him in the training camp over this week. We're working on his confidence, we're working on his physical fitness. He's another boxer that if he would get a proper draw he is also a potential medallist, no question."
Nevin, a fifth year student at Mountrath Community School, has an air of confidence going into the competition.
"It's a massive step up for me," he said. "You can only try your best and hopefully I'll bring back a gold medal. I'm very confident. I've been training very hard at my own club (Portlaoise BC) and up here with the high performance team."
Likewise Clarke, a student at Tallaght Community College, is looking forward to the challenge. "I'm feeling great," he said. "I'm feeling as fit as a fiddle ... don't think I've ever been fitter coming into a tournament. I'm going for the gold (medal) this time nothing else, I'm not settling for bronze."
According to McClean, the panel of 11 boxers travelling to Anapa have been developed at schoolboy level and now they are at the next phase of their education in amateur boxing.
McClean said: "We have great faith and confidence in our kids that they can go on and do well. It takea the very best in Europe and the world to lower our colours and we're on the podium because we compete so well.
"These 11 kids who are going out to Anapa. Although it's a country very far away, a small place in Russia will be forever green, I promise you. It will remember us."