Walsh qualifies for second Olympic Games

Aidan Walsh with his ticket to the Paris Olympics
Aidan Walsh with his ticket to the Paris Olympics [Joe Walsh]

Aidan Walsh used all his experience to qualify for his second Olympic Games after claiming the final place available at light-middleweight in the World Qualification Tournament in Bangkok.

Walsh clinched a unanimous points decision win over Angel Llanos from Puerto Rico in a messy contest where the result was what mattered, not the performance.

The 27 year-old joins his sister Michaela on the Irish team and becomes the 10th Irish boxer to qualify for Paris.

Earlier on Sunday, Grainne Walsh, Jennifer Lehane and Daina Moorhouse booked their tickets to the Olympics but super-heavyweight Martin McDonagh suffered a controversial 3-2 defeat to miss out on Paris qualification.

Facing his sixth bout in a week, Walsh started well by controlling the first round and using the aggression of his opponent to his advantage by picking off Llanos on the counter-attack.

He was ahead on all five judges' scorecards at the end of the first three minutes.

The young Puerto Rican boxer had a strong second round, but three judges still had Walsh ahead by two rounds.

Although he was warned in the final round for not being combative enough, the referee did not deduct Ireland's Tokyo bronze medallist any points.

Using his skill and experience, Walsh knew he had done enough at the end of a gruellingly physical week.

It is a comeback story for the ages after Walsh retired from the sport last year.

Now he gets the opportunity to box on the Olympic stage once again.

Grainne Walsh and Jennifer Lehane celebrate their Olympic qualification
Grainne Walsh and Jennifer Lehane celebrate their Olympic qualification [Joe Walsh]

A clean sweep for Ireland’s women

Ireland will send a full team of six women to the Olympics after wins for Moorhouse, Lehane and Walsh on Sunday.

They will join Kellie Harrington, Michaela Walsh and Aoife O’Rourke in Paris.

Many observers had felt Walsh should have qualified at the first World Tournament in Italy in March.

The Tullamore fighter then had her selection questioned by Amy Broadhurst who subsequently transferred to Great Britain when Walsh was chosen ahead of her for the trip to Thailand.

In the end Walsh let her boxing do the talking and she left nothing to chance with a dominant win over Ani Hovsepyan from Armenia.

Ashbourne school teacher Lehane also had a 5-0 win over Hanna Lakotar from Hungary while Moorhouse beat Bulgarian Zlatislova Chukanova 4-1.

The only blemish for Ireland on the final day of competition was a defeat for super-heavyweight Martin McDonagh.

It was all to play for against Armenian Davit Chaloyan heading into the final round and the Irishman looked like he had done enough, but not according to three of the five judges who scored it for Chaloyan.

It meant that Aidan Walsh joins fellow Commonwealth Games champion Jude Gallagher, Jack Marley and Dean Clancy on the plane to Paris.

Ten boxers represents the largest ever Irish squad heading to an Olympics. Only Australia with 12 and Uzbekistan with 11 qualified more, with Brazil and Kazakhstan also reaching double figures.

It leaves Ireland as the leading European nation and with hopes of adding more Olympic medals to their legacy this summer.