Hickey loses his na­tional crown


Bray People - - Sport - Kevin BYRNE

GRANGE­CON’S ROSS Hickey is just con­cen­trat­ing on the USA af­ter los­ing his na­tional se­nior light­weight ti­tle last Fri­day.

Hickey was beaten 11-7 in some­thing of a lo­cal bat­tle by Eric Dono­van of the St Michael’s Athy club in a fight that went to the wire.

Dono­van cap­tured his fourth se­nior belt in victory to also be­come a three-weight cham­pion, hav­ing al­ready won ti­tles at ban­tamweight and feath­er­weight.

And af­ter es­tab­lish­ing a lead go­ing into the fi­nal round, Dono­van was able to run in the third, frus­trat­ing Hickey who was forced to chase him, but to no avail.

But just one week af­ter be­ing de­throned, Hickey will have to put his dis­ap­point­ment aside when the USA pay a visit to the Na­tional Sta­dium.

The Ir­ish squad for the two-leg show­down will dif­fer on each night. Af­ter com­ing to Dublin, the Amer­i­cans will be tested again in Athy next on Mon­day, March 2.

The Athy fight­ers on the na­tional stage will be se­lected on the sec­ond night, and it is be­lieved they will sit out the first.

And the Wick­low club’s Euro­pean bronze medal­list wants to take his chance to put his night to for­get in the past.

‘I’ll go back to the draw­ing board, that’s what I have to do now,’ he said.

‘Me and Eric get on well enough, there’s no hard feel­ings and that’s box­ing. I had to go looking for it at the end. But I’ll just have to get the head down and train away for the USA next week.’

Dono­van was clearly over­joyed at the fi­nal bell, drop­ping to his knees in de­light. By that stage he was car­ry­ing the hopes of his il­lus­tri­ous club solely on his shoul­ders af­ter some of his es­tab­lished team­mates fell in shock re­sults.

First on the list is Olympian John Joe Joyce, who was dropped with a crush­ing right hook from Crum­lin’s Phil Sut­cliffe in the very first round. He got up but his 19-year-old as­sailant went for him again and this time left the ref­eree with lit­tle op­tion but to stop the fight. Also on the night his cousin David Oliver Joyce lost his belt to Carl Framp­ton while looking for a fourth ti­tle in a row.

The pre­vi­ous week, Athy’s EU gold medal­list Roy Shea­han lost his semi-fi­nal at 69Kg, so it was clear that Dono­van felt he had to re­store some pride.

And when he led in the third and fi­nal frame, there was no way he was let­ting Hickey over­take him, de­spite the fe­ro­cious at­tacks the Grange­con man launched.

Hickey’s cor­ner man Seamie Byrne ad­mit­ted: ‘It’s not been a good night.

‘Dono­van was a bit sharper. The un­der­dog is al­ways fired up isn’t he? But we’ll pick him up, we’re back here next week for the USA.

‘There’s two shows, one at the Sta­dium and one in Athy. So Ross will box at the Sta­dium this week. It’s back to the draw­ing board now.’

And Byrne added that Hickey’s pre­ferred tac­tic is to wait and launch his own counter-at­tacks - a dif­fi­cult ap­proach when trail­ing in the fi­nal round.

‘He had to go for­ward,’ Byrne said. ‘Dono­van en­joyed that. Ross likes a lad to come for­ward and he can slip off and counter. But when the other fella gets a lead it’s hard to pull it back.’

Hickey will need to put the night be­hind him quickly as a strong USA force is ex­pected to ar­rive. Ir­ish Am­a­teur Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Dom O’Rourke con­firmed that the Ir­ish squad will need to have re­cov­ered enough as they will face a huge test.

‘It’ll be good see­ing the young Amer­i­can team com­ing through and I be­lieve they’re putting an aw­ful lot of work into it, O’Rourke said.

‘They’re pre­par­ing for 2011 as well be­cause they had a bad Olympic Games so you know Amer­ica, they’ll go back and they’ll build and this is the new team they have out. It’ go­ing to be quite ex­cit­ing I’d say.’

Ross Hickey from Grange­con Box­ing Club in action against Eric Dono­van in the 60 kgs fi­nal at the Na­tional Se­nior Box­ing Cham­pi­onships fi­nals at the Na­tional Sta­dium, Dublin.

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