SIX Irish boxers are through to the quarter-finals of the European Championships following four wins out of five in Ankara, Turkey yesterday.
Joe Ward, John Joe Nevin, Ray Moylette and Darren O'Neill joined Michael Conlon and Willie McLaughlin in the last eight and are now just one victory away from claiming a medal.
AIBA World Youth champion Ward, who was making his European debut, advanced to the light-heavyweight quarter-final with a 10-7 win over Estonia's Ainar Karlson. Ward, at 17 the youngest member of the Irish squad, was set to meet Italian Fiori Simeno today and is just one win away from claiming at least bronze in only his eighth senior fight.
"It was great to see Joe get off the mark in his first European contest. He got a bye into the last 16 and he's been waiting around for over a week to get in the ring," said the IABA's director of boxing Dominic O'Rourke.
"Winning on his European debut will be a confidence booster for him. The Italian lad is tall and rangy and it will be an interesting quarter-final."
Meanwhile, Cavan bantamweight Nevin registered a 15-10 win over Nikoloz Izoria of Georgia, and Moylette edged out Serbian light-welterweight Ljubomir Marjanvic 17-16.
Both were set to meet Russian opponents today, and O'Rourke believed that the 56kg and 64kg last-eight duels would go right down to the wire in the Turkish capital.
"Ray was involved in a high-scoring contest with the Serbian lad but he showed good defence throughout, although it was very tight in the end," said O'Rourke. "John Joe got us off to a winning start and Ray and Joe followed that up. The Russian opponents will be tough as always.
"It's going to be another big day for Irish boxing."
Irish captain O'Neill hammered Victor Cotiujanschi of Moldova. The Kilkenny southpaw, a silver medal winner at the 2010 European Championships, was set to meet the Ukraine's Dmytro Mytrofanov today.
Donegal-born super-heavyweight Cathal McMonagle, who boxes out of the Holy Trinity BC in Belfast, lost 22-18 to England's Anthony Joshua.