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Kellie Harrington, Aoife O'Rourke and Amy Broadhurstt are Ireland’s golden girls

Harrington took the gold medal in the lightweight category while immediately afterwards, Broadhurst won the light welterweight title in stunning style.

22 October 2022; Kellie Harrington of Ireland, with her gold medal and trophy after winning the lightweight 60kg final during the EUBC Women's European Boxing Championships 2022 at Budva Sports Centre in Budva, Montenegro. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Sean McGoldrickSunday World

Ireland is toasting three new European boxing champions after a historic day in the Mediterranean Sports Centre in Budva, Montenegro.

Middleweight champion Aoife O’Rourke became the first Irish female fighter to successful defend a European title since Katie Taylor and joined Olympic champion Kellie Harrington and World champion Amy Broadhurst as Ireland’s three gold medallists.

There was disappointment for Caitlin Fryers and Tina Desmond who were beaten in their respective gold medal bouts, but they still bring home silver medals from the championships. Ireland won a record total of seven medals, three gold, two silver and two bronze.

Harrington took the gold medal in the lightweight category while immediately afterwards Broadhurst won the light welterweight title in stunning style.

Together with O’Rourke they justified their favourites tag as Ireland secured three titles for the first time ever at the European Elite women’s championships. They also bettered the men’s best result – two gold medals via Joe Ward and Ray Moylette in Turkey in 2011.

Harrington, Broadhurst and O'Rourke all medalled previously in these championships. Harrington won a bronze in 2016 while Broadhurst was a bronze medallist at the last Euros in 2019, while O’Rourke won the middleweight title in 2019.

For Harrington it means she has matched the achievements of Katie Taylor in winning Olympic, World and European titles. Broadhurst also notched up a notable treble having already won the World title and the Commonwealth Games gold medal this year.

Intriguingly, there is a strong possibility that the pair could be in direct opposition for a place at next year’s Olympic Games as the light welterweight category is not an Olympic weight and the Dundalk fighter may drop down to Harrington’s lightweight category to try and achieve her dream of competing at the Olympic Games.

For now, though they can celebrate a famous double in the Mediterranean Sports Centre in Budva.

Castlerea native O’Rourke produced barnstorming performance against Poland’s Elzbieta Wojcik who had previously lost to the Irish fighter at the Olympic qualifier in Paris in 2021.

She did nick the first round on one judge’s card but there was no doubting O’Rourke’s superiority during the remaining two rounds as she fashioned a decisive victory (30-27, 30-27, 30-26, 30-26).

But there was disappointment for Cork born Garda Tina Desmond in the light middle final as she lost on majority 4-1 decision to Tokyo Olympian and defending European champion Ani Hovsepyan from Armenia (30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 28-29).

Ironically, Hovsepyan lost to Lisa O’Rourke at the quarter final stage of the World championships in Istanbul this year but missed the Euros due to a thumb injury and Desmond grabbed her opportunity to win a silver.

Earlier Harrington faced a youthful Czech Republic lightweight Lenka Bernardova. The Dubliner prefers to stand off and pick off opponents when they advance but it was clear from the start that Bernardova was determined not to fall into that fatal trap.

Her fluid movement around the ring kept her out of Harrington’s way and the favourite had no option but to stalk her.

There were few punches of note thrown in the first two minutes but Harrington did land one eye catching shot and overall did score more regularly. All five judges gave her the round.

It was more of the same in the second as Bernardova refused to be drawn into Harrington’s web and the Olympic champion was forced to stalk her.

Again she got through with a greater number of scoring punches and crucially got the round across all five judges’ cards which give her a near unassailable 20-18 lead ahead of the final stanza.

Bernardova had success in terms of discomforting Harrington in the last round and one of the judges gave her the nod but it matters little as Harrington won on scorecards of 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28. She made a sign of the cross after the result was announced.

In contrast even though Amy Broadhurst is also a southpaw she opted for different tactics in her gold medal bout against the Ukraine’s Maria Bova.

Her opponent, who was eliminated at the quarter-final stage of the World championship in Turkey was slightly taller but Broadhurst demonstrated she meant business when landing a sharp combination within 20 seconds of the first bell.

This set the pattern for a totally one-sided and fight. Bova was on the receiving end of a constant barrage of punches from the relentless Dundalk woman and finally the referee gave Bova a standing count just before the end of the round.

Two of the judges scored the round 10-8 in favour of the Dundalk fighter with the other three giving her the nod 10-9. Broadhurst didn’t relent in the second round but the Ukraine challenger did better defensively. But the ropes saved her from a visit to the canvas at one point.

The final was effectively over after two rounds but Broadhurst, who has arguably been the form boxer at the championships, continued to punish her opponent on the way to a thoroughly decisive 30-27, 30-27, 30-26, 30-26, 30-26 win and the gold medal.

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