Dean does country proud
Walsh brings bronze medal home from Europeans
Dean Walsh was given a hero's return home on Sunday, having become the first Wexford town boxer to win a medal at the European Elite Championships in Samokov, Bulgaria, last week.
The St. Ibar's/St. Joseph's clubman was the centre of attention when he joined with family, friends and supporters on his return, displaying the bronze medal that he so deservedly won against the toughest of opponents at the championships.
The Wexford town light-welterweight won his quarter-final bout which guaranteed him a first major international medal at the third time of asking. Having been on the wrong end of controversial decisions at the 2014 EU and 2015 Euro Games, Walsh was not to be denied again as he ousted Georgian Nyeki of Hungary in a close bout.
The 21-year-old approached the fight trying to outbox his Hungarian opponent and, mostly, this proved a winning approach. Nyeki was always dangerous and kept coming forward but, bar a few overhands, he landed little against the slick Walsh.
Walsh showed brilliant grit throughout to stick to his boxing and avoid being goaded into a fight by the heavy-hitting East European slugger.
But Walsh was not so lucky in the semi-final where he boxed out of his skin, losing out on a narrow decision to the Russian number two seed, Vitaly Dunaytsev, as he looked to secure a silver medal.
This was a close contest all through and could have gone either way, but the Russian got the verdict in the end. Walsh knew much about his opponent having defeated him in the European Games back in June, but on this occasion the result was reversed, albeit narrowly.
Walsh as a result of his exploits has now also qualified for the World Championships in Qatar this August, as he continues his bid for a place at the Rio Olympics.
The Ballagh's Adam Nolan, a Garda based in Bray, and now boxing out of the same club as Katie Taylor, won his way through to the quarter-final when he produced a massive performance to shock Russia's number one seed Radzhab Butaev in the welter class.
Butaev, who earned a quota place at Rio 2016 through the World Series of Boxing (W.S.B.) this year, was favourite to progress against Nolan.
But the Bray B.C. boxer probably turned in the best performance of his career to post a 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 win against his vaunted opponent.
While Nolan showed his real class, he had little left in the tank for his quarter-final 24 hours later as he went under to the Belarus boxer, Pavel Kastramin, on a unanimous decision.
Despite the defeat, Nolan also qualified for Qatar after Kastramin went on to win his next bout.
Still, it was a wonderful week for the Irish boxers who came home with two gold medals thanks to Michael Conlan and Joe Ward, along with Walsh's bronze, leaving them second in the medals list.
Manager Billy Walsh continued his marvellous record at major games, with another Wexford town man, Eddie Bolger, offering plenty of assistance in the corner. throughout the week.